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Morgan v. Sacramento County Sheriffs Dept.

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 28, 2019

SAMMY DAVIS MORGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERRIF'S DEPT., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DENNIS M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1).

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a “. . . short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.

         I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff names the following as defendants: (1) the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department; and (2) Deputy Morgan. See ECF No. 1, pg. 2. Plaintiff's complaint concerns the conditions of his confinement at the Sacrament County Jail between December 2018 and February 2019. See id. at 3-5. Plaintiff raises three claims - an Eighth Amendment claim related to his housing, an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim, and a due process claim related to a disciplinary proceeding. See id.

         Housing - Plaintiff, who says he is disabled and entitled to accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleges that between December 20, 2018, and January 17, 2019, he was housed in a cell with a cellmate who is also disabled and has a chrono for a lower bunk. See id. at 3. As a result, plaintiff says he was forced to sleep on the floor with his head just inches away from the toilet. See id. According to plaintiff: “I have argued the fact that I need to be better accomadated [sic] for my disability but to no avail.” Id. Plaintiff does not state to whom he “argued.”

         Excessive Force - Plaintiff alleges that defendant Morgan, a deputy at the Sacramento County Jail, “forcefully slammed” plaintiff to the ground during a cell move on February 13, 2019. Id. at 4. Plaintiff states he sustained physical injuries as a result. See id.

         Disciplinary Hearing - Plaintiff states he received a “write-up hearing” on February 15, 2019, and was found guilty without being provided an opportunity to be heard. See id. at 5. According to plaintiff: “my statement was manipulated” and he was sent to segregation. Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The court finds plaintiff's complaint alleges a cognizable Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against defendant Morgan. Otherwise, as discussed below, plaintiff does not allege sufficient facts to sustain an Eighth Amendment claim related to his housing or a due process claim arising from the disciplinary hearing.

         A. Eighth Amendment Claims

         The treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The Eighth Amendment “. . . embodies broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide prisoners with “food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.” Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official's act or omission must be so serious such that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See id.

         1. Housing

         Here, plaintiff alleges constitutionally deficient housing conditions, specifically that his disability was not accommodated and, as a result, he was forced to sleep on the floor with his head inches from the toilet. While plaintiff has arguably alleged facts sufficient to show deficient living conditions, plaintiff has not linked those facts to any named defendant. He does not claim ...


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