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Ramos v. Rocha

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2019

MICHELL RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
I. ROCHA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se. On May 6, 2019, the undersigned recommended that this action be dismissed based on plaintiff's failure to provide a signed complaint. On June 20, 2019, plaintiff was granted an additional thirty days in which to correct the omission. On July 1, 2019, plaintiff submitted a signed page three of his complaint. Good cause appearing, the May 6, 2019 findings and recommendations are vacated.

         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 submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis is 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 this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency 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).

         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 when 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), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only ‘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.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. However, “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555, citations and internal quotations marks omitted). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93, and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984).

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 27, 2018, while he was on Work Group/Privilege Group “A-2/B” status, defendant Rocha “commanded plaintiff to go to dayroom against normal protocol which plaintiff would have been locked in shower.” (ECF No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant Carpinter, Control Booth Officer, opened plaintiff's cell door against protocol. (Id.) As a result, plaintiff was forced into the dayroom where he was maliciously and sadistically attacked and stabbed in the jugular vein. Plaintiff states he “never had any trouble with []either inmate, ” and neither inmate received a rules violation report or criminal charges for attempted murder. Plaintiff claims “[b]oth defendants were either negligent or intentional.” (Id.) Plaintiff seeks money damages for defendants' failure to protect plaintiff.

         Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a cognizable Eighth Amendment complaint. “[A] prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious, a prison official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1970) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Second, the prison official must subjectively have a sufficiently culpable state of mind, “one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The official is not liable under the Eighth Amendment unless he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837. Then he must fail to take reasonable measures to abate the substantial risk of serious harm. Id. at 847. Mere negligent failure to protect an inmate from harm is not actionable under § 1983. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835.

         Here, plaintiff fails to demonstrate that either defendant was aware that the inmates in the dayroom posed a substantial risk to plaintiff's safety. Indeed, plaintiff suggests that defendants' action may have been negligent, and states that plaintiff had not had any prior difficulty with either inmate who attacked plaintiff. Such allegations are insufficient to state an Eighth Amendment violation. The court will, however, grant leave to file an amended complaint.

         If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the conditions about which he complains resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. See, e.g., West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Also, the complaint must allege in specific terms how each named defendant is involved. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371 (1976). There can be no liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless there is some affirmative link or connection between a defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. Rizzo, 423 U.S. at 371; May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980). Furthermore, vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). As stated, negligence on the part of defendants is insufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim.

         In addition, plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff's amended complaint complete. Local Rule 220 requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. This requirement exists because, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Ramirez v. County of San Bernardino, 806 F.3d 1002, 1008 (9th Cir. 2015) (“an ‘amended complaint supersedes the original, the latter being treated thereafter as non-existent.'” (internal citation omitted)). Once plaintiff files an amended complaint, the original pleading no ...


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