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Smith v. State, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 8, 2017



         On August 8, 2017, Plaintiff Earlene Smith (“Plaintiff”) filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and numerous unidentified individuals. (ECF No. 1.) Currently before the Court is Defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss, filed September 29, 2017, which was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss.

         A findings and recommendations was filed on October 24, 2017, recommending granting Defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 12.) On November 7, 2017, Defendant CDCR filed a request for clarification of the findings and recommendations. Accordingly, the Court issues this amended findings and recommendations.



         In mid-June 2016, Plaintiff, who is African-American, was hired as a psychiatric technician at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla.[1] (Compl. ¶¶ 14, 15, ECF No. 1.) On June 30, 2016, Plaintiff misplaced her identification card and searched her person, belongings, and those areas that she had visited to no avail. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff reported her identification card as missing. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff was told to search again for her identification card and was observed searching by an unidentified individual (“Doe 1”) who was supervising the search. (Compl. ¶ 17.)

         When Plaintiff was unable to find her identification card, Doe 1 instructed a second unidentified individual (“Doe 2”) to take Plaintiff into the bathroom and search Plaintiff's person. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Doe 2 lead Plaintiff into the bathroom and conducted a search which required Plaintiff to display her naked breasts, show her undergarments, and lift her wig. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff objected to the invasiveness of the search. (Compl. ¶ 19.) After she left the bathroom, Plaintiff heard Doe 2 say to correctional officers something to the effect of “she showed it all.” (Compl. ¶ 20.)

         That same day or the following day, Plaintiff, who was distraught and crying, reported the search to a third unidentified individual (“Doe 3”). (Compl. ¶ 21.) Around June 30, 2016, Does 1 and 2 were aware that Plaintiff had reported the search to Doe 3. (Compl. ¶ 21.)

         On July 1, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a formal EEO complaint regarding the search. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Does 1, 2, and 3 were aware that Plaintiff submitted the EEO complaint around July 1, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 23.)

         On July 7, 2016, Plaintiff was written up for allegedly inadequately responding to an emergency although Plaintiff contends that she conducted herself pursuant to the minimal training that she had been provided. (Compl. ¶ 24.) At least one other psychiatric technician failed to respond according to protocol but was not written up. (Compl. ¶ 24.)

         Prior to July 15, 2016, based upon their investigation, EEO determined that Plaintiff's complaint was supervisory in nature and would not be investigated. (Compl. ¶ 25.) The complaint was forwarded to management for review and appropriate action. (Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff was never informed that any action was taken to address her complaint. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

         Other correctional officers told inmates that Plaintiff wore a wig and the manner in which her hair appeared underneath which would only have been known by Doe 2. (Compl. ¶ 27. Plaintiff was taunted by inmates who called her bald headed. (Compl. ¶ 27.) The inmates used this knowledge to taunt, intimidate and harass Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 27.)

         After Plaintiff complained to her supervisors, Does 1, 2, 3, and other correctional officers and staff refused to give the necessary level of assistance to Plaintiff which caused her job duties to become more difficult and fundamentally altered the conditions of her employment. (Compl. ¶ 28.)

         From August 2016 through September 2016, Does 1, 2, 3, and other unidentified individuals retaliated against Plaintiff by filing multiple reports of misconduct against her for trivial matters related to medication management which were either wholly fabricated or were technical violations for which other employees were not written up or reported. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

         In September 2016, an unidentified individual (“Doe 8”) blamed Plaintiff for some Tylenol 3 tablets that were missing. (Compl. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff denied taking the medication. (Compl. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that this allegation was made in retaliation for Plaintiff's complaint regarding the unlawful search of her person. (Compl. ¶ 30.)

         In September 2016, another unidentified individual (“Doe 9”) wrote Plaintiff up for an open food port in retaliation for her report. (Compl. ¶ 31.) Despite widespread practice of managing the food port in the manner that resulted in Plaintiff's write-up, no other employees in Plaintiff's position were written up for the same conduct. (Compl. ¶ 31.)

         On September 11, 2016, a sergeant (“Doe 10”) yelled at Plaintiff in front of other employees regarding the protocol for a particular inmate's blood sugar management. (Compl. ¶ 32.) No other employees were treated with this level of hostility which changed the conditions of Plaintiff's working environment. (Compl. ¶ 32.)

         On October 30, 2016, Plaintiff was written up by an unidentified individual (“Doe 11”). (Compl. ¶ 33.)

         In November 2016, Plaintiff received notice that she would be interviewed regarding the misconduct that she had complained of. (Compl. ¶ 34.)

         On December 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed an EEO report regarding the October 30, 3016 write-up. (Compl. ¶ 35.)

         Plaintiff brings this action against the CDCR, and unidentified defendants for unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; and state law claims of race discrimination and retaliation in violation of California Government Code section 12940, assault, battery, ...

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