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Ward v. Summers

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 2, 2019

MELVIN WARD, Plaintiff,
B. SUMMERS, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Melvin Ward (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 5, 2019, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint and granted him leave to amend. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on June 6, 2019, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 12.)

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         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).

         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)). 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 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 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 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Avenal State Prison. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) Lieutenant B. Summers; (2) Sergeant C. Brown: (3) Lieutenant M. Contreras; (4) Lieutenant R. P. Murgallis; and (5) Psychologist Mary Crawley.

         Plaintiff alleges that at March 11, 2010, he engaged in a therapy session with Dr. Crawley. Dr. Crawley was keeping notes as Plaintiff spoke. At the end of the session, Dr. Crawley gave no indication that Plaintiff had said anything harmful or threatening to anyone. Plaintiff was allowed to go back to his housing unit without mention until March 12, 2010.

         On March 12, 2010, Plaintiff was taken to Ad-Seg for an alleged threat to Sergeant J. Lucas. According to Dr. Crawley's documentation, she had issued several duty-to-warn chronos on March 12, 2010. One of the chronos referenced the notes she was taking while in the session with Plaintiff, but the other document did not. The documents were not given to Plaintiff by the disciplinary administrator. He had to obtain them through a medical request. Plaintiff learned that Dr. Crawley was not participating in the disciplinary write-up. Instead, Sergeant Brown, whom Plaintiff had never met, wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary 115. Sergeant Brown did so through a “confidential informancy.” (ECF No. 12 at 4.)

         Plaintiff did not receive the incident report, which allegedly was fabricated by Lieutenant Contreras, who interviewed Dr. Crawley and J. Lucas. When Plaintiff attended his first disciplinary hearing, which was heard by Lieutenant Murgallis, all charges were to be dropped because Plaintiff did not have the incident report, duty-to-warn chrono or reporting employee. Plaintiff began screaming until they took him out and Lieutenant Murgallis found Plaintiff guilty in absentia.

         Plaintiff appealed, and the matter was reissued and reheard. By this time, Plaintiff had all the paperwork needed to stop Lieutenant Summers from finding him guilty. Plaintiff produced the notes of the therapy session, which had no threat in them. However, Lieutenant Summers still found Plaintiff guilty out of spite.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Sergeant Brown knew he did not have the authority to report the confidential information and that it was up to Dr. Crawley to report the inmate and write him up will all the evidence. All Dr. Crawley had done was her duty to warn. Lieutenant Contreras was put in a position to write the incident report, to which he showed no viable evidence. He only had statements from one person that Plaintiff said nothing to and one person who accused Plaintiff of a crime with no corroboration. Lieutenant Murgallis reportedly failed to drop the false charges after Plaintiff identified the reasons for dismissal. Plaintiff further contends that Lieutenant Summers had proof that there was no corroboration in Dr. Crawley's statements.

         As relief, Plaintiff would like compensation for the years that he had ...

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