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Hunt v. Matevousian

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 16, 2017

MAURICE HUNT, Plaintiff,
ANDRE MATEVOUSIAN, et al, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Maurice Hunt (“Plaintiff”) is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff's complaint, filed on October 17, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening.

         I. Screening Requirement and Standards

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint must 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, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's 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).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         Bivens actions and actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “are identical save for the replacement of a state actor under § 1983 by a federal actor under Bivens.” Van Strum v. Lawn, 940 F.2d 406, 409 (9th Cir. 1991). Under Bivens, a plaintiff may sue a federal officer in his or her individual capacity for damages for violating the plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Bivens, 403 U.S. at 397. To state a claim a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a federal actor.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Atwater United States Penitentiary (“Atwater”) in Atwater, California. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) Warden Andre Matevousian; (2) Lieutenant Helling; (3)

         Correctional Officer W. Gunn; (4) Correctional Officer Graham; (5) Correctional Officer Hellmuth; (6) Correctional Officer G. Villegas; (7) Atwater's Medical Department; (8) Associate Warden Snider; (9) Facility Captain Garcia; (10) Western Regional Office, Bureau of Prisons; and (11) Central Office, Bureau of Prisons.

         Claim 1:

         In claim 1, Plaintiff alleges that on August 6, 2015, he was assaulted by Correctional Officers Helling, W. Gunn, and Graham. Correctional Officer Hellmuth was watching, but did not participate. Plaintiff asserts that earlier that day, he had been complaining to Correctional Officer Hansen that he needed access to a handicap toilet and shower due to his disability, which had been an ongoing request since Plaintiff's arrival at Atwater on July 21, 2015.

         On July 30, 2015, Plaintiff spoke directly to the Warden regarding his handicap needs and appropriate housing to accommodate his disability, Plaintiff pointed out to the Warden, while he was standing at the entrance of Plaintiff's cell, that the cell lacked any handrails or pull bars around the toilet or shower. The Warden advised that he had been on vacation the week of Plaintiff's arrival. Plaintiff further informed the Warden that Captain Garcia confiscated Plaintiff's assistive devices, which were authorized by Atwater Medical Personnel on the day of his arrival. The Warden informed Plaintiff that his medically prescribed assistive devices would be returned and he would have Plaintiff moved to handicap housing.

         The next day, on July 31, 2015, Associate Warden Snider came to Plaintiff's cell in the SHU and brought him a cane, orthotic foot brace and ankle guard. Plaintiff inquired about his other medically prescribed assistive devices and assignment to a handicap accessible cell. Associate Warden Snider informed Plaintiff that the handicap accessible cell in the SHU was inoperable and that was all of the assistive devices that Plaintiff was getting.

         On August 4, 2015, Plaintiff again spoke to Associate Warden Snider about access to a handicap accessible toilet and shower. Plaintiff informed Associate Warden Snider that prisons are required to provide handicap accessible showers and toilets pursuant to Supreme Court opinion. Associate Warden Snider again informed Plaintiff ...

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