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Wilkins v. Macomber

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 9, 2019

KEENAN WILKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFF MACOMBER, 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 second amended complaint (ECF No. 20). Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, and his Fourth Amendment right to bodily privacy. Plaintiff also asserts a conspiracy claim under section 1985 and a failure to act/protect claim under section 1986.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT AND STANDARD

         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).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require complaints contain a “…short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)). 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).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations 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. 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 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572F.3d at 969.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff raises six claims in his second amended complaint. (1) Plaintiff alleges Defendants Jeff MaComber, Kelly Harrington, and Timothy Lockwood violated his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment by knowingly allowing Plaintiff to be housed in a constitutionally inadequate double-cell. Plaintiff does not contend that the practice of double celling is itself a violation of the Eighth amendment, but asserts his particular double cell is unconstitutional. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the conditions deprive him of privacy, forcing him to expose himself to his cellmate. Plaintiff claims the lack of a ladder is a safety hazard that has resulted in an injury to his shoulder. Plaintiff alleges he is forced to eat while his cellmate uses the toilet-creating an unsanitary living condition-and Plaintiff contends his cellmate is dangerous. Plaintiff argues Defendants MaComber, Harrington, and Lockwood were made aware of these deficiencies and continued to allow Plaintiff to be double-celled, thus violating his Eighth Amendment rights.

         (2) Plaintiff alleges Defendants MaComber, B. Moore, and R. Ramirez violated his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by housing him in a double cell rather than a single cell. Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Orel David violated his equal protection rights by denying him access to Jewish services. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Stewart, MaComber, and Giannelli were aware of this denial and failed to take proper action, thus also violating his equal protection rights. (3) Plaintiff alleges Defendants David, Stewart, MaComber, and Giannelli violated his First Amendment rights to religious practice by denying him access to Jewish services. (4) Plaintiff alleges Defendants MaComber and Harrington violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy by allowing him to be double-celled. Specifically, Plaintiff contends by forcing him to double cell he must expose himself to his cellmate when urinating, defecating, and bathing. (5) Plaintiff alleges Defendants David, Giannelli, and Stewart conspired against him, in violation of section 1985, to deny him equal protection to Jewish services because he was an EOP mental health prisoner. (6) Plaintiff alleges Defendants Stewart, MaComber, and Harrington, failed to act and protect him from the denial of Jewish services in violation of section 1986.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Claim 1: Eighth Amendment

         Plaintiff alleges the specific conditions of his double cell confinement violate the constitutional standards established under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff, thus, does not challenge the practice of double celling but rather the circumstances related to his double cell. On this basis, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts as to Defendants Macomber, Harrington, and Lockwood to pass screening.

         B. Claim 2: Equal Protection

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants MaComber, B. Moore, and R. Ramirez violated his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by housing him in a double cell rather than a single cell. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that housing him in a double cell, while allowing other EOP inmates a single cell, is a violation of the Equal Protection Cause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Orel David violated his equal protection rights by denying him access to Jewish services. Plaintiff contends that ...


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