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Bradford v. Sherman

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 22, 2018

SHERMAN, et al., Defendants.




         A. Background

         Plaintiff, Dwight Larry Bradford, is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has stated cognizable deliberate indifference claims under the Eighth Amendment against Defendants Officer Ruelas, Officer J. Curry and Morales. The deficiencies in Plaintiff's pleading on other claims may be able to be remedied on amendment. However, since Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel is granted, he has no duty to respond to this order at this time. Deadlines will be set depending on whether the Court is able to locate counsel willing to represent Plaintiff.

         B. 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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). A complaint will be dismissed if it lacks a cognizable legal theory or fails to allege sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         C. Summary of the Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (“SATF”) in Corcoran, California, where the incident of which he complains occurred. Plaintiff names the following defendants: Warden Stu Sherman; Associate Warden Reynoso; Second Watch Captain S. Marsh; Second Watch Yard Officer, Ruelas; Second Watch Tower Officer J. Curry; and tram truck driver Morales. Plaintiff alleges that, on the morning of March 12, 2017, Morales drove the tram truck containing breakfast and lunch to the D-Facility. When inmate porters arrived to unload the food, they encountered a foul odor which smelled like human feces. They informed Morales of the smell, but Morales ordered them to unload the truck and push the carts of food into the building for inmate consumption.

         The inmate porters complied, but when they went inside the building, they discovered what they believed to be human feces smeared on the side of the food carts and lunch boxes. Ruelas was notified and ordered the inmates to clean the feces off the carts and lunch boxes. The inmate porters protested. Tower officer J. Curry called the inmate porters to the gun tower and instructed them not to tell the other inmates about the contaminated food. During this conversation, other inmate porters passed out the contaminated food to inmates in the building. Plaintiff received his food and ate it before an unknown sergeant showed up and recalled all of the contaminated food. Plaintiff became ill with stomach cramps, vomiting and lack of sleep which allegedly resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. Plaintiff alleges that Warden Sherman, Associate Warden Reynoso, and Captain Marsh all contributed to “a systematic pattern of events by failure to protect inmates from the spread of H. Pylori which is transmitted by fecal matter.”

         Plaintiff alleges a violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights[1] and seeks monetary damages. As discussed below, these allegations state a cognizable claim against Officer Ruelas, Officer Curry, and Morales, but not against any of the other named defendants. As Plaintiff may be able to correct the deficiencies in his pleading, he is provided the pleading requirements, the standards for claims for the rights he contends have been violated, and leave to file a first amended complaint.

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

         “Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, ” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.

         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 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true, but ...

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