United States District Court, E.D. California
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has paid the
filing fee. Plaintiff alleges defendants used excessive force
in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Before the court is
plaintiff's complaint for screening. For the reasons set
forth below, the court finds plaintiff has stated cognizable
Eighth Amendment claims against all defendants.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 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, ” that fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).
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, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where 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 pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis.
See Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
8(a)(2) 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.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive
dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must
contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual
allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic,
550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this
standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of
the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex
Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe
the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor.
Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States .
. . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an
actual connection or link between the actions of the
defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered
by plaintiff. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs.,
436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362
(1976). “A person ‘subjects' another to the
deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of
§ 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).
supervisory personnel are generally not liable under §
1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of
respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant
holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him
and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically
alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862
(9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438,
441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations
concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil
rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board
of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
Allegations of the Complaint
events complained of occurred during plaintiff's
incarceration at California State Prison-Sacramento
(“CSP-Sac”). (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges
defendants subjected him to excessive force in violation of
the Eighth Amendment and retaliated against him. Plaintiff
seeks relief against the following defendants in their
individual capacities: Sergeant Gonzales, Officer Mills, and
Officer Carothers. (Id. ¶¶ 3-7.)
alleges that at all relevant times he was participating in
the Enhanced Outpatient Program for mentally ill inmates. On
October 2, 2014, defendants Carothers and Mills escorted him
from a suicide watch mental health crisis bed back to A3
building in the Psychiatric Services Unit. Plaintiff had been
on suicide watch for one week. However, when he was returned
to A3, he was placed in a different cell. Plaintiff was so
upset about this cell placement that he told Carothers and
Mills, “I am suicidal.” Carothers and Mills then
escorted plaintiff back to a holding cage. (Id.
became more upset and argued with defendant Gonzales about
why he had been moved. He then “lost his temper”
and spit in Gonzales' face. Carothers and Mills
“immediately slammed plaintiff down onto the ground
face first.” Gonzales, who was wearing boots, then
kicked plaintiff in the face and body. Mills punched
plaintiff in the face and head. After he been shackled and
was “no longer a threat, ” Carothers twisted
plaintiff's left knee and stomped on it in an attempt to
break it. (Id. ¶¶ 18-28.)
result of the beatings, plaintiff's face was bruised,
swollen, and scraped. Plaintiff's knee was swollen and
bruised. Plaintiff had a black eye. (Id. ¶ 30.)
seeks compensatory and punitive damages for his physical
injuries and emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶
Does Plaintiff State ...