United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING REQUEST FOR SCREENING; DISMISSING
CERTAIN CLAIMS WITH PREJUDICE; ORDERING DEFENDANTS TO SHOW
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge
an inmate at Mule Creek State Prison, has filed a pro
se civil rights action. This action was removed to
federal court, Dkt. No. 1, and the Court found that the
complaint alleged federal law claims, Dkt. No. 17. The Court
now reviews the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Standard of Review
federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the
court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any
claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from
a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings
must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v.
Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
“Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need
only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the
. . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (citations omitted). Although a complaint
“does not need detailed factual allegations [in order
to state a claim], . . . a plaintiff's obligation to
provide the grounds of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated,
and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
names as defendants Correctional Training Facility
(“CTF”) correctional officers J. Barba, M.
Ramirez, DN McCall, and Arnold; CTF Warden Spearman;
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(“CDCR”) Director Jeffrey Beard; and CDCR Office
of Appeals Chief M. Voong.
to the complaint, on August 21, 2015, while Plaintiff was
housed at CTF, Officer Arnold searched Plaintiff's cell.
During the search, Officer Barba waited outside the cell.
Officer Barba then issued a rules violation report
(“RVR”) on August 25, 2015, falsely stating that
he had personally discovered two bags of pulp and a large bag
of inmate manufactured alcohol during the cell search, and
falsely accusing Plaintiff of possessing inmate manufactured
alcohol. Plaintiff was found guilty of this RVR after a
hearing conducted by Lt. McCall. Plaintiff filed numerous
grievances and staff complaints regarding this RVR, which
were reviewed, denied, and/or cancelled by Officer Ramirez,
Warden Spearman, Director Beard, and Chief Voong. Plaintiff
filed grievances challenging the cancellations, and these
grievances were reviewed, denied, and/or cancelled by Officer
Ramirez, Warden Spearman, Director Beard, and Chief Voong.
alleges sixteen causes of action. The causes of action state
two federal law claims and numerous state law claims.
first federal law claim is that Officer Barba's false
accusation constituted cruel and unusual punishment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. See Dkt. No. 1-1
at 39-41 (first cause of action) and Dkt. No. 1-1 at 44-45
(third cause of action). Officer Barba's false accusation
does not implicate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel or
unusual punishment. To qualify as a punishment subject to the
Eighth Amendment, there must be a criminal penalty or
punishment that attaches after a formal adjudication of
guilt. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 537 n.16
(1979). Here, Officer Barba's false accusation and the
subsequent consequences for Plaintiff are unrelated to
punishment for a crime, or to an adjudication of guilt for a
crime. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against
Officer Barba in his first and third causes of actions are
DISMISSED with prejudice because leave to amend would be
futile. See James v. Giles, 221 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th
Cir. 2000) (where amendment would be futile, denial of leave
to amend is appropriate).
second federal law claim is that Officer Barba and Director
Beard violated his federal due process rights. See
Dkt. No. 1-1 at 50-51(seventh cause of action); and Dkt. No.
1-1 at 66-67 (fourteenth cause of action).
Plaintiff's seventh cause of action, he alleges that his
due process rights were violated when Officer Barba falsely
accused him of possessing inmate manufactured alcohol, and
when Officer Arnold allowed Officer Barba to make a false
accusation. The Ninth Circuit has not directly addressed
whether being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct violates
an inmate's federal due process rights. Other circuits,
however, have held that, generally speaking, allegations of a
fabricated charge fail to state a claim under § 1983.
See, e.g., Sprouse v. Babcock, 870 F.2d 450, 452
(8th Cir. 1989) (inmate's claims based on the falsity of
the charges did not, standing alone, state constitutional
claims; Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2d
Cir. 1986) (inmate has “no constitutionally guaranteed
immunity from being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct
which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty
interest;” only has right to not “be deprived of
a protected liberty interest without due process of
law”); Hanrahan v. Lane, 747 F.2d 1137,
1140-41 (7th Cir. 1984) (allegation that prison guard planted
false evidence implicating inmate in disciplinary infraction
fails to state cognizable due process claim where procedural