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Mitchell v. Beard

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 31, 2017

JOHN EDWARD MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
J. BEARD, ET AL., Defendants.

         ORDER FOR THIS CASE TO PROCEED AGAINST DEFENDANT HUNTER ON PLAINTIFF'S CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT CLAIM ORDER DISMISSING ALL REMAINING CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM ORDER FINDING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT APPROPRIATE FOR SERVICE AND SENDING SERVICE DOCUMENTS TO PLAINTIFF FOR COMPLETION AND RETURN WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (ECF No. 42.)

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         John Edward Mitchell (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.)

         On October 16, 2015, Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and no other parties have made an appearance. (ECF No. 6.) Therefore, pursuant to Appendix A(k)(4) of the Local Rules of the Eastern District of California, the undersigned shall conduct any and all proceedings in the case until such time as reassignment to a District Judge is required. Local Rule Appendix A(k)(3).

         On December 24, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the Complaint, together with a proposed amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 12, 15.) On January 7, 2016, the Court issued an order granting Plaintiff leave to amend. (ECF No. 13.) On January 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 17.)

         On November 14, 2016, the court screened the First Amended Complaint and issued an order requiring Plaintiff to either file a Second Amended Complaint or notify the court that he is willing to proceed only with the cognizable claim found by the court. (ECF No. 35.) On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint, which is now before the court for screening. (ECF No. 42.)

         II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The 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, ” 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or appeal fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)). While a plaintiffs allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 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. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

         To state a viable claim for relief, Plaintiff must set forth sufficient factual allegations to state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. THE COURT'S PRIOR SCREENING ORDER

         In the court's prior screening order issued on November 14, 2016, the court found that Plaintiff stated a claim in the First Amended Complaint only against defendant Sgt. Sanchez for subjecting Plaintiff to adverse conditions of confinement, leaving Plaintiff naked in an unsanitary cell for two hours. (ECF No. 35.) Upon further review of Plaintiff's allegations in both the First and Second Amended Complaints, the court finds that Plaintiff names defendant C/O Hunter as the individual who confined Plaintiff in the cell, not Sgt. Sanchez. Plaintiff's alleges in the Second Amended Complaint that Sgt. Munoz ordered C/O Hunter to confine Plaintiff in the bare cell. (ECF No. 42 at 12 ¶19.)

         IV. SUMMARY OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the R. J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California, in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The events at issue in the Second Amended Complaint allegedly occurred at North Kern State Prison (NKSP) in Delano, California when Plaintiff was housed there while on his way to attend a settlement conference in a prior case. Plaintiff names as defendants Sergeant E. Sanchez, Sergeant L. Munoz, Correctional Officer (C/O) M. Ornelas, C/O M. Hunter, C/O Barella, C/O Thytie, C/O A. Fernandez, Dr. Roska, Nurse E. Laguatan, Nurse G. Rodriguez, and three Doe Defendants (nurses).

         Plaintiff's allegations follow. On March 13, 2014, Plaintiff was temporarily housed at NKSP, wearing orthopedic boots, a back brace, and waistchains, which were “medical necessities” issued by a physician. (ECF No. 42 at 7 ¶2.) The wearing of handcuffs behind his back causes Plaintiff immediate pain. Plaintiff suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, anti-social disorder, and other major depressive disorders.

         While still in R&R, Plaintiff told C/O Thytie that he had a waist chain chrono and needed to see a doctor or mental health clinician. C/O Thytie handcuffed Plaintiff behind his back and did not remove the handcuffs despite Plaintiff's complaints of pain.

         Sgt. Munoz and two nurses arrived and determined that Plaintiff needed to see medical. While Plaintiff was being escorted to medical, he complained about Sgt. Munoz' lack of respect towards him and after a verbal exchange, Sgt. Munoz turned the escort around and took Plaintiff back to R&R. Sgts. Munoz and Sanchez conferred, and then Sgt. Sanchez aggressively stripped Plaintiff of his shoes, socks, and back brace, took him to a dark hallway, and placed him in a standing-room-only cage. Inside the cage, Plaintiff felt helpless and depressed. More than once, Plaintiff told Sgt. Sanchez that he needed to talk to someone from the mental health department. Plaintiff took off his tee shirt, tied it to the top of the cage and began to hang himself, but realized it was impossible because his feet ...


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