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Easter v. Aurich

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 25, 2019

CHARLES EASTER, Plaintiff,
v.
Z. AURICH, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF Nos. 2, 5.

         Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

         Screening

         I. Legal Standards

         Pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the court must dismiss the case at any time if it determines the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), a complaint, or portion thereof, should be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails to set forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true.” Id. (citations omitted). Dismissal is appropriate based either on the lack of cognizable legal theories or the lack of pleading sufficient facts to support cognizable legal theories. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). A pro se plaintiff must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562-563 (2007).

         II. Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from “spinal core disease” and carpometacarpal joint disease. ECF No. 1 at 9. He was on a morphine prescription for the pain caused by those conditions. Id. at 10. On June 18, 2017, defendant Aurich - a correctional officer - accused plaintiff of “cheeking” his morphine pill. Id. On June 27, 2018, plaintiff received a “disciplinary chrono” stating that plaintiff had been caught attempting to cheek/tongue his pain medication and had to be directed by Aurich to swallow the pill. Id. at 11. Shortly thereafter, his morphine prescription was discontinued. Id. at 12-13.

         Plaintiff alleges that Aurich's accusation was knowingly false and undertaken to “effect cause for P.A.O. Akintola to arbitrary (sic) discontinue plaintiff[']s morphine pain medication . . . .” Id. at 12-13. Akintola is not named as a defendant in this action. With respect to defendant Halloran - a licensed vocational nurse - plaintiff claims that she “aid[ed] & abet[ted]” Aurich in submitting the fraudulent disciplinary chrono. Id. at 14.

         Plaintiff claims that the actions of Aurich and Halloran violated: (1) his due process rights insofar as the disciplinary chrono was false and (2) his Eighth Amendment rights by interfering with his medical treatment. Both claims, as currently articulated, fail.

         First, plaintiff cannot maintain a due process claim based solely on the falseness of a rules violation report or disciplinary chrono. “A prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.” Chavira v. Rankin, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167423, 2012 WL 5914913, *1 (N.D. Cal. 2012) (citing Sprouse v. Babcock, 870 F.2d 450, 452 (8th Cir. 1989); Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2d Cir. 1986)); see also Johnson v. Felker, No. 1:12-cv-02719 GEB KJN (PC), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170474, 2013 WL 6243280, at *6 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2013) (‚ÄúPrisoners have no ...


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