United States District Court, E.D. California
ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner incarcerated under the authority of the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR). At the present time, plaintiff is being held at the
Butte County Jail pending state court appearances in July
2017. In the instant action, plaintiff proceeds pro se with a
civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, and request to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915.
action is referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)
and Local Rule 302(c). For the reasons set forth below, the
court grants petitioner's request to proceed in forma
pauperis; screens plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A; notifies plaintiff of the deficiencies
in his complaint; and dismisses the complaint with leave to
file a First Amended Complaint within thirty days. In
addition, the court denies plaintiff's request for
appointment of counsel, and plaintiff's request that this
case proceed as a class action.
In Forma Pauperis Application
has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required
by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, plaintiff's
request to proceed in forma pauperis, ECF No. 16, will be
is still required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00
for this action. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a),
1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an
initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions
of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court
will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial
partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and
forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff
will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of
the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's
prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the
appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the
amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the
filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
Screening of Complaint Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
A. Legal Standards for Screening a Prisoner Civil Rights
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous
or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221,
1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may dismiss a claim as
frivolous when it is based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is
whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pled, has
an arguable legal and factual basis.
district court must construe a pro se pleading liberally to
determine if it states a potentially cognizable claim.
However, the court's liberal interpretation of a pro se
complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that
were not pled. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d
266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). While detailed factual allegations
are not required, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell
Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.” Id. at 679. Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair
notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation and
internal quotation and punctuation marks omitted).
se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the
complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the
complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment.
See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir.
2000); Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th
has filed a complaint, ECF No. 1, and several separate and
extensive supporting documents, see e.g., ECF Nos.
12, 15, 17, 21. Plaintiff has also filed several notices
concerning the processing of his legal mail, accessibility to
the law library and copying services, and communications with
other inmates concerning this case. See e.g., ECF
Nos. 11, 18, 20. The court has reviewed all documents filed
32-page complaint consists of a 6-page form complaint;
plaintiff's 10-page affidavit; and 16 pages of exhibits.
The only named defendants are the “Butte County
Sherriffs Office” and the “Butte County
Sherriff” (sic). ECF No. 1 at 1-2. The complaint
identifies three claims: the first and third claims are
designated “to be determined;” the second claim
is designated “Eighth Amendment;” the claims
generally reference the attached documents. The identified
injuries are “psychological distress” (claim
one); “emotional distress, etc.” (claim two); and
“physical discomfort, emotional duress, psychological
distress, etc.” (claim three). The comprehensive
requested relief provides in full, id. at 6 (sic):
I would like change in policy and practices to be implemented
immediately and I am seeking compensation for harassment,
emotional duress/distress, and would like all
officers/deputies to be thoroughly re-educated on
cross-contamination and all Health and Safety
regulations related to all Correctional facillities. I would
also like the officers whom I can show undermined the legal
and proffessional processes I have attempted to utilize to be
removed from their employment at the facillity in question.
affidavit and exhibits indicate that plaintiff has attempted,
through the jail grievance process, to obtain resolution of
several matters and conditions allegedly impacting the health
and safety of plaintiff and other inmates at the jail.
Plaintiff has challenged health and safety conditions in the
kitchen, serving hall, and day room; and he has alleged
specific unsanitary conditions and practices involving
general maintenance, food service, and personal hygiene. It
appears, generally, that plaintiff's grievances were
responded to, including the issuance of instructions to jail
staff regarding how to maintain and/or improve some of the
challenged conditions. Plaintiff complains that these
responses consist of lies and misrepresentations. These
matters appear generally to be encompassed by plaintiff's
claim one, wherein plaintiff identifies the
“issue” as “Health and Safety/Sanitary
also appears to be challenging, apparently in claim two, his
medical and custodial treatment following an injury to his
jaw in August 2016. It appears that plaintiff slipped on a
wet floor, injuring his jaw, on August 12, 2016. Initially,
medical staff allegedly discounted plaintiff's injury and
prescribed only ibuprofen. Plaintiff was again evaluated on
August 13, 2016, when the attending nurse pressed and
allegedly separated plaintiff's jaw bone, then sent him
to the hospital ER for imaging and surgery. Plaintiff
complains that, after his return to jail, he was not
consistently provided a single cell as ordered by his
surgeon. Plaintiff alleges that his insistence on a single
cell and his repeated moves resulted, inter alia, in two
correctional officers “ramm[ing] my face into the cell
wall, resulting in the breaking of 3 of the wires that were
supposed to hold my jaw wired shut.” ECF No. 1 at 12.
Plaintiff also alleges that he was not consistently provided
a liquid diet, initially upon his request immediately
following his injury, and then as ordered by his surgeon.
undersigned is unable to determine from the complaint and
exhibits the basis of plaintiff's third claim, and
therefore disregards it.
Screening of Plaintiff's Complaint
construing the complaint, it appears that plaintiff is
attempting to state two Eighth Amendment claims: in Claim
One, the deliberate indifference to plaintiff's health
and safety based on the allegedly unsanitary conditions at
Butte County Jail; in Claim Two, the deliberate indifference
to plaintiff's serious medical needs. In addition, in
Claim Two, plaintiff's allegations appear to support a
potentially cognizable Eighth Amendment claim for excessive
court addresses the requirements and shortcoming of each of
these claims as currently framed. However, the court first
addresses general deficiencies in the complaint concerning
the named defendants, plaintiff's alleged injuries and
requested relief, and plaintiff's challenges to the
jail's grievance system.
General Deficiencies in the Complaint
is informed that “Section 1983 imposes civil liability
upon an individual who ‘under color [of state law] . .
. subjects or causes, any citizen of the United States . . .
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws.” Franklin v.
Fox, 312 F.3d 423, 444 (9th Cir.2002) (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983). “To state a claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was
committed by a person acting under the color of State
law.” Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d
1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).
person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a
constitutional right, within the meaning of [S]ection 1983,
if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's
affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is
legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which
complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d
740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978); see also Leer v. Murphy,
844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir.1988) (“The inquiry into
causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and
responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or
omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional
deprivation.”) (citations omitted.) A complaint that
fails to state the specific acts of defendant that allegedly
violated plaintiff's rights fails to meet the notice
requirements of Rule 8(a). Hutchinson v. United
States, 677 F.2d 1322, 1328 n.5 (9th Cir. 1982).
named defendants in the complaint are the “Butte County
Sherriffs Office” and the “Butte County