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Brock v. Tuolumne County Sheriffs

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 7, 2018

DAVID LEE BROCK, Plaintiffs,
v.
TUOLUMNE COUNTY SHERIFFS, Defendant

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS DOE 2 AND THE SECOND CLAIM; ORDER AUTHORIZING PLAINTIFF TO CONDUCT DISCOVERY TO DETERMINE THE IDENTIFTIES OF DOE 1 AND DOE 3

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiff claims that when he was booked into the Tuolumne County Jail, he reported to the classification officer that he was a “dropout” from the “Northern” gang. Despite this, he was housed in a non-protective custody cell, which resulted in him being attacked by the other inmates in the cell. Consequently, he claims violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and California's Code of Regulations, Title 15, section 1050. The Court finds that the plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim against Doe 2 and has failed to state a claim under the CCR.

         I. 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, ” or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         II. Pleading Standard

         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 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, at 678. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, at 677-78.

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hospital Association, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). To state a claim under section 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); Ketchum v. Alameda County, 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         Under section 1983 the Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). 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). Even still, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, at 678; Moss, at 969.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         As in his original complaint, the plaintiff claims that upon his booking[1] into the Tuolumne County Jail, he told the booking officer (Doe 1) that he was a “Northern dropout.” (Doc. 10 at 3) He reports that during this conversation, the supervising officer (Doc. 2) was present. Id. A third officer, Doe 3, escorted the plaintiff to C-Tank, which was a “whites only” cell. Id. He alleges that this was a problem because he was a dropout from a Hispanic gang. Id. He alleges that he told Doe 3 that he was a Northern dropout and Doe 3 acknowledged that housing him in C-Tank “isn't right” but did so nonetheless. Id. After being placed in the cell, he was attacked by the other inmates. Id. He concludes that the placement occurred despite “the knowledge of Does 1, 2, 3 that [he] was a gang dropout and suposed [sic] to be house [sic] protective custody.” Id. at 3-4.

         A. Doe Defendants

         Plaintiff describes Doe 1 as the booking officer, Doe 2 as the supervisor of the booking officer and the escort officer and Doe 3 as the escort officer. (Doc. 10 at 3) As previously stated, Courts generally look on “Doe pleading” with disfavor. Wakefield v. Thompson, 177 F.3d 1160, 1163 (9th Cir. 1999) (quoting Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 E.2d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980)). Nevertheless, the Court will permit the plaintiff to proceed and will give him the opportunity to identify the defendants' identities through limited discovery.[2] Id.

         B. Failure to Protect

         Plaintiff seeks to impose liability on the defendants for their failure to protect him from the violent acts of the other inmates. As noted above, in Footnote 1, it remains unclear whether the plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the time of these events. Though he concludes he was a pretrial detainee, he offers no factual allegations, such as indicating that he was arrested at a location other than a jail or ...


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