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Smith v. Goss

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 23, 2018

D. GOSS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Lawrence Christopher Smith (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on September 14, 2016. Plaintiff filed a consent to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction on October 24, 2016. (ECF No. 4.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on July 14, 2017, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 12).

         I. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks 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)(ii).

         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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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 survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at Pelican Bay State Prison. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”), Corcoran and at California Correctional Institution (“CCI”) at Tehachapi. Plaintiff names over 42 individuals as defendants, as stated below, from various incidents spanning many years.

         Plaintiff alleges as follows.

         Assaults: Plaintiff alleges that on March 13, 2013, Defendant Sotelo, P. Chanelo, D. Wattree, K. Hunt, L. Castro, A. Gonzalez, E. Ramirez and R. Rodriguez, at KVSP, used force against Plaintiff. The use of force was purported to have occurred based on Plaintiff attempting to batter correctional officers. Plaintiff was charged with battery on an officer but the events occurred when these officers used force on the Plaintiff and beat him while Plaintiff and on the ground completely restrained. These officers deprived of KVSP assaulted Plaintiff in retaliation. They also deprived plaintiff of his orthotic shoes while subduing Plaintiff and beat him again while in restraints a second time.

         On September 9, 2013, Defendant D. Knowlton, of CCI at Tehachapi, used excessive force by emptying the entire contents of canister of OC pepper spray into Plaintiff cell as retaliation when there was no threat of harm and correctional officials denied Plaintiff medical care.

         On November 15, 2013, Defendants E. Weiss, O. Hurtado and F. Zavleta, of CCI at Tehachapi, extracted Plaintiff from his cell and began striking Plaintiff with extendable batons, their fists and kicked him while Plaintiff was handcuffed and on the ground in a vulnerable position. They entered Plaintiff's cell and punched, kicked and hit Plaintiff with batons for several minutes leading to Plaintiff's head and face becoming bruised and swollen. Correctional Captain Haak had Plaintiff illegally enrolled in an involuntary mental health program.

         On February 6, 2014, Defendants D. Gibbs and D. Hardy, of CCI at Tehachapi, removed Plaintiff from his assigned cell for a ruse of a cell search and Plaintiff was hit, kicked, and punched with a baton while Plaintiff was on the ground. Once restrained in handcuffs, Defendant Whitson ordered Plaintiff's clothes be cut off him to degrade and sexually harass Plaintiff under the guise of a medical evaluation.

         On February 4, 2015, at CCI Tehachapi, Defendants A. Cantu, E. Young, E Martinez and K. Campbell and several other officers assaulted Plaintiff while he was in handcuffs and when he was on the ground, severely injuring Plaintiff's face and nose and beating Plaintiff with batons while he was on the ground, and they then sprayed him with pepper spray. Defendant Campbell saw the illegal use of force and did nothing to intervene.

         On February 25, 2015, at CCI Tehachapi, A. Cantu, W. Gutierrez and D. Matthingly and other officers used excessive force while Plaintiff was handcuffed, shackled and with a spit mask. They forced Plaintiff to the ground and repeatedly punching, kicking and hitting Plaintiff with batons while calling him racial names. Defendant BL Parrot and R. Cole personally saw the battery on Plaintiff and may have joined in the battery of Plaintiff.

         On April 16, 2015, Officer R. Jensen and G. Doser and a psych tech J. Boger unlawfully and sexually harassed Plaintiff with a strip search of Plaintiff was Plaintiff was attending the facilities law library based upon an alleged weapon find of a sharp instrument secreted in a hole in Plaintiff's cell mattress.

         On September 2, 2015, G. Wildey and A. Pearce, and other officers, at CCI Tehachapi, used excessive force while Plaintiff was in handcuffs hitting him with batons, kicking and punching Plaintiff as he was down on the ground, and used an entire canister of OC pepper spray and excessively pepper spraying Plaintiff in the face, punching, and kicking him. Defendant B. Mello conducted an illegal strip search in an unauthorized use of force that was intended to be demanding and sexually harassing alleging that B. Mello retrieved an inmate manufactured weapon off the Plaintiff's person. Plaintiff was further battered by defendant Flores and Riley based upon the orders by B. Mello.

         False RVR's:

         On August 19, 2015, W. Guiterrez and O. Chavez, at CCI Tehachapi, authored a false RVR for battery of a peace officer and failed to offer Plaintiff due process by failing to provide him with a fair and impartial investigative employee.

         Denial of Access to Courts:

         Defendant P. Grant, CCI Tehachapi, denied Plaintiff his legal documents from August 19, 2013 to October 3, 2013 culminating in Plaintiff being unable to file a writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court to challenge timeliness procedural bars in Habeas Corpus. Plaintiff had been granted a continuance to file his claims before the U.S. Supreme Court until September 28, 2013, but based on Defendant Grant's denial of his property, Plaintiff could not file his writ until October 2013. Plaintiff would only be able to file if he is now granted a second or successive Habeas Corpus petition. Plaintiff asks that Defendant bear the costs of filing fees and transcription of his criminal trial proceedings.

         Destruction of Property:

         Plaintiff alleges his legal property was taken and frustrated his litigation efforts in case 1:10-CV-01814 in retaliation for Plaintiff's protected speech and conduct within the Courts. Defendant Uribe and Cable destroyed Plaintiff's property by falsely stating Plaintiff refused his property. Neither officer followed correct procedures.

         Conspiracy/Supervisor Liability against K. Holland, Warden Matzen:

         Plaintiff alleges the wardens are liable under the theory of respondeat superior for the conspiracy in violating Plaintiff First Amendment, Eighth Amendment and Due Process rights based on Plaintiff's original suit (1:10-CV-1814) concerning actions of Defendant Goss' action with RVR hearings concerning an attempted murder of an inmate. Plaintiff was retaliated against and his due process rights violated by false RVRs for assaulting or battering officers, indifference to his medical needs, confiscation of orthopedic devices, denial of access to the courts, and several acts of retaliation.. These officials implemented policies that were a repudiation of Plaintiff's Constitutional rights. Defendant Goss, along with K. Holland and Matzen, systematically retaliated against Plaintiff by leveling false RVRs against Plaintiff for “assaulting” or “battering” officers and frustrate Plaintiff's litigation efforts by authorizing deprivation of Plaintiff's property.


         Plaintiff requested declaratory judgment, punitive damages and compensatory damages.

         III. ...

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