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Timberland v. Mascarenas

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 27, 2018

G. MASCARENAS, et al., Defendants.



         I. BACKGROUND

         Ronald Timberland (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on June 27, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) On March 16, 2017, the court screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend. (ECF No. 11.) On April 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint, which is now before the court for screening. (ECF No. 14.)


         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 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (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). To state a viable claim, 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 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.


         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison (CSP) in Corcoran, California, where the events at issue in the First Amended Complaint allegedly occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants G. Mascarenas (Correctional Counselor I (CCI)), D. Patterson (CCI), A. Maxfield (CCII), and M. Sexton (Chief Deputy Warden) (collectively “Defendants”), who were all employed at CSP at the time of the events at issue. Plaintiff's factual allegations follow.

         On May 5, 2015, an initial hearing was held by members of the Classification Committee, which resulted in Plaintiff being retained in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) for an additional twenty-six months. Plaintiff's assigned Correctional Counselor, defendant G. Mascarenas, failed to notify Plaintiff of the hearing date and his right to attend, knowingly depriving Plaintiff of his rights. In fact, defendant Mascarenas never introduced herself to Plaintiff prior to or after the hearing.

         Plaintiff's Staff Assistant, defendant D. Patterson, also knowingly deprived Plaintiff of the right to attend the ICC hearing, failing in his assignment.

         At the hearing defendant Mascarenas knowingly presented false information about Plaintiff to Committee members. Defendant Mascarenas was aware that the false information would harm Plaintiff's name, reputation and standing among the rest of the inmate population, were they to find out. Defendant Mascarenas was in possession of, and had direct access to, Plaintiff's Central File where such information could be readily ascertained as being factual or not. Defendant Mascarenas knew that Plaintiff had never previously resided on any SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) facility, nor had Plaintiff been endorsed by prison officials as a sensitive needs inmate. The Committee Chrono-128G generated by defendant Mascarenas, dated April 29, 2015, and containing false information, could not be refuted by Plaintiff during the hearing due to the defendant's failure to notify him.

         Defendant Mascarenas also violated Plaintiff's rights to be protected from constant threats of violence from other inmates. Defendant Mascarenas knowingly gave Plaintiff's confidential personal information to another inmate, which contained false information that defendant Mascarenas was aware that would damage Plaintiff's reputation among the inmate population. Defendant Mascarenas instructed this inmate to “pass this around, ” showing a clear disregard of a risk of harm to Plaintiff by labeling Plaintiff as a “snitch” or worse. (ECF No. 14 at 4 ¶2.) Defendant Mascarenas was aware that GP (General Population) inmates view SNY inmates as rapists, child molesters, and snitches, which immediately targets them for death. The fact that on the outside of all cell doors there is a photo, name, and CDCR number of the inmate(s) who reside in that cell, coupled with the instruction to “pass this around, ” clearly shows defendant Mascarenas's reckless and malicious intent to place Plaintiff's life in jeopardy and cause harm to Plaintiff's reputation among other inmates. As a result of the death threats placed against Plaintiff, later confirmed on CDCR Form 128-D dated 10-12-15, Plaintiff suffers physical injury by being forced to live out the remainder of his sentence in segregation. This deprives Plaintiff of privileges enjoyed by non-segregated inmates, both GP and SNY alike. Plaintiff alleges that this cannot be considered as “within the range of confinement normally expected by inmates in relation to ordinary incidents of prison life, ” but should be considered as “imposing atypical and significant hardship” to the remainder of Plaintiff's prison sentence/life. (ECF No. 14 at 5 ¶2.)

         Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal describing the failure of Committee Members at the ICC hearing dated May 5, 2015, to arrange for Plaintiff to attend this hearing. Defendant A. Maxfield was a member of the Committee whose actions were in question, but defendant Maxfield was able to render a decision on her own actions by acting as a reviewer of Plaintiff's appeal at the first level of review. Defendant Maxfield's decision did not mention the staff misconduct described in Plaintiff's appeal and set the “tone” for the next levels of appeal. (ECF No. 14 at 7:24-26.)

         Defendant M. Sexton was also a member of the Committee whose actions were in question, yet defendant Sexton was able to render a decision on Plaintiff's appeal at the second level of review. Defendant Sexton's decision at the second level did not mention the staff misconduct which should have led to an investigation and/or referral to the Hiring Authority pursuant to CDCR title 15, § 3084.5. The appeal was later denied at the third level of review.

         Plaintiff requests monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief, attorney's fees, costs of ...

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