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Springfield v. Valencia

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2019

A. VALENCIA, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         I. Screening 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, “[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). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         II. Allegations in the Complaint

         The events giving rise to the allegations in the complaint occurred while plaintiff was housed at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville (“CMF”). The complaint covers a time span from January 2018 until April 2019. Plaintiff names three correctional counselors, one appeals coordinator, and the chief deputy warden at CMF as defendants in this action. Attached to plaintiff's complaint are over 100 pages of exhibits which the court has reviewed as part of its duty to screen the complaint. ECF No. 1 at 36-138; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Plaintiff's allegations and the documents attached to the pleading may be fairly categorized into three separate causes of action. First, plaintiff alleges a First Amendment retaliation claim against defendants A. Valencia and R. Guitierez. See ECF No. 1 at 22-23. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that defendant Valencia threatened to discharge him from the Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) if he did not withdraw his CDCR 602 grievance. See ECF No. 1 at 12-13; 16-17. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Guitierez had plaintiff transferred to the High Custody Intermediate Treatment Program at CMF in retaliation for plaintiff's filing of a reasonable accommodation request for his mental illness. ECF No. 1 at 12. As a result of these threats, plaintiff abandoned his 602 grievance. ECF No. 1 at 22.

         Next, plaintiff alleges that defendants M. Boucher, C. Pompey, R. Guitierez, and A. Valencia were deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. See ECF No. 1 at 24-27.[1] Plaintiff contends that defendants Boucher, Pompey, Guitierez, and Valencia were deliberately indifferent when they recommended that he be placed in a multi-person cell which they knew would “deny him access to serious specialized/adequate mental health treatment.” ECF No. 1 at 24.

         Lastly, plaintiff raises a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against R. Guitierez, A. Valencia, and N. Counture based on his atypical confinement that caused him significant hardship contrary to the ordinary instances of prison life. ECF No. 1 at 27-29.[2] In this cause of action, plaintiff alleges that defendant Guitierez placed him on “DPS” status from November 16, 2018 until April 23, 2019 which prevented him from accessing the exercise yard, law library, the law library electronic delivery system, religious services, the dayroom, as well as individual and group therapy. ECF No. 1 at 27-28. During this time period, plaintiff was restricted to his cell 24 hours a day with the exception of a 15-minute shower every-other-day if staff was available. Id. According to the complaint, defendant Valencia conspired with defendant Guitierez to continue plaintiff's “DPS” status. ECF No. 1 at 28. Defendant Counture failed to adequately prepare for and assist plaintiff at his Unit Classification Committee hearing (“UCC”) on February 29, 2019 and March 5, 2019. ECF No. 1 at 17-18, 28-29.

         By way of relief, plaintiff seeks injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive ...

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