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Johnson v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 8, 2018



          Hon. Larry Alan Burns, United States District Judge.

         I. Procedural History

         On May 1, 2017, Sedric Eugene Johnson (“Plaintiff”), incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison located in Delano, California, proceeding pro se in this case filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). In addition, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 8), along with a Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF No. 10).

         On September 12, 2017, the Court GRANTED Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP, DENIED his Motion to Appoint Counsel, and simultaneously DISMISSED his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted (ECF No. 14). However, Plaintiff was given leave to file an amended pleading in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified in the Court's Order. Id. at 7-8. On October 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) (ECF No. 18).

         On November 28, 2017, the Court DISMISSED Plaintiff's FAC for failing to state a claim and again, gave him leave to file an amended pleading. (ECF No. 19.) The time to amend passed and the Court DISMISSED the entire action for failing to state a claim and for failing to comply with a Court Order. (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiff later filed a motion to reconsider which was GRANTED by the Court. (ECF Nos. 23, 24.) Plaintiff was permitted to file an amended pleading and on March 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). (ECF No. 27.) A few days prior, Plaintiff had filed a motion seeking an extension of time to file his SAC. (ECF No. 26.) The Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion for extension of time as moot.

         II. Sua Sponte Screening per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A

         A. Standard of Review

         As the Court previously informed Plaintiff, because he is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his SAC requires a pre-answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         B. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that he was previously housed at Centinela State Prison (“CEN”) on August 2, 2016. (ECF No. 27 at 3.) Plaintiff “decided to work out” before leaving his cell to go to dinner. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that “heard a mechanical click” and was “instantly punched.” (Id.) Plaintiff managed to “regain balance” and “hit this individual.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims two individuals “trying to rush” into his cell but he was able to prevent them from “pushing [him] further back into the cell.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff “wonder[ed]” why the “(tower/booth) officer did not come to his “assistance.” (Id.) Plaintiff believes that this unknown officer “should have been able to see what was going on.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims his head was “placed into a head lock and was “uppercuted” over and over.” (Id. at 4.) He was ultimately let go by these individuals but Plaintiff followed them into the dayroom where he “approached them to fend them off as long a [he] could.” (Id.) Officers Lopez and Garcia could be heard “entering the building, running through the rotunda right to the area of the altercation.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims the altercation between his cell and the dayroom “lasted about a minute or so.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims it was “quite obvious” that he needed medical attention but Officers Lopez and Garcia “did not follow proper policy to sound the alarm call for back up and medical assistance.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that Lopez and Garcia showed a “lack of concern” and the “situation de-escalated itself.” (Id.) Plaintiff walked back to his cell where he was “in the process of trying to clean” himself when he was “called to the building podium to sign for legal mail.” (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff claims Correctional Officer Mass[1] “had a look of bewilderment” regarding Plaintiff's physical appearance. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges it was not until that time that Lopez and Garcia ...

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