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Belton v. Gutierrez

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 15, 2019

VERNON L. BELTON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. GUTIERREZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF SERVICE; ORDER DIRECTING DEFENDANTS TO FILE A DISPOSITIVE MOTION OR NOTICE REGARDING SUCH MOTION; INSTRUCTIONS TO CLERK

          WILLIAM H. ORRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Vernon Belton has stated Eighth Amendment claims against guards and medical staff at Salinas Valley State Prison. The Court directs defendants to file in response to the complaint a dispositive motion, or notice regarding such motion, on or before October 21, 2019.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

          A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         A “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court “is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         Belton alleges that on June 2, 2018 at Salinas Valley State Prison, he was attacked by a fellow inmate while prison staff failed to intervene. When liberally construed, Belton has stated Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claims against guards J. Gutierez, A. Pola, and P. Gonzalez, and against psychiatric technicians A. Camacho and Mayder.

         He also alleges prison guard Roger Martinez denied him his due process rights at a disciplinary hearing related to the attack. When liberally construed, plaintiff has stated a due process claim against Martinez.

         Belton also alleges physicians Phuc Lam and Tom Zewert provided constitutionally inadequate medical care for the injuries plaintiff suffered from the attack. When liberally construed, Belton has stated Eighth Amendment claims against Lam and Zewert.

         Belton's other claims are dismissed. There is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983 against supervisory defendants. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Other than their supervisory status, no facts are alleged against S. Williams (Correctional Captain) D. Bright (Chief Physician), S. Gates (Chief of Appeals Branch), Bayode Omosaiye (CEO of Health Care Services), and Tammy Foss (Warden). And there is no constitutional right to require officers to file incident reports, so ...


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