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Simmons v. Luke

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 24, 2019





         Plaintiff Joyce Marie Simmons, a federal prisoner, filed this pro se civil rights action under Bivens v. Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California (“FCI-Dublin”) Unit Manager Kimberly Luke for allegedly violating her constitutional rights. Her amended complaint (Dkt. No. 11) is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         A. Standard of Review

          A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or from an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement 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) (citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

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

         B. Amended Complaint

         The amended complaint makes the following allegations. On or about September 22, 2017, Defendant Unit Manager Kimberly Luke issued a khaki-colored dress to Plaintiff even though Plaintiff is housed at Dublin Satellite Prison Camp, where inmates wear blue uniforms. Khaki-colored uniforms are worn by inmates housed at the prison facility adjacent to the Dublin Satellite Prison Camp. Plaintiff was informed by an officer that if she had gone outside with the khaki jumper dress on, perimeter officers could have fired on her thinking she was from the other prison camp and attempting to escape. Defendant Luke knew of and disregarded this risk to Plaintiff's safety, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on exposing inmates to a risk to their safety. Defendant Luke's issuance of the khaki-colored jumper caused Plaintiff to suffer mental and emotional anguish. Plaintiff seeks compensatory, nominal and punitive damages. Dkt. No. 11 at 3-6.

         The case of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 396 (1971), “established that the victims of a constitutional violation by a federal agent have a right to recover damages against the official in federal court despite the absence of any statute conferring such a right.” Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 18 (1980). The Supreme Court has recognized a Bivens claim in only three cases: Bivens (Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure); Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 248-49 (1979) (Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause gender discrimination); and Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 17-19 (1980) (Eighth Amendment inadequate medical treatment). “These three cases-Bivens, Davis, and Carlson- represent the only instances in which the [Supreme] Court has approved of an implied damages remedy under the Constitution itself.” Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843, 1855 (2017). The Supreme Court has made clear that “expanding the Bivens remedy is now a ‘disfavored' judicial activity, ” and such a remedy will not be available if there are “‘special factors' counseling hesitation in the absence of affirmative action by Congress.” Id. at 1848 (citation omitted). The only relief available in a Bivens action is an award of money damages for injuries caused by a defendant acting in his or her individual capacity. Ministerio Roca Solida v. McKelvey, 820 F.3d 1090, 1093-96 (9th Cir. 2016). Liberally construed, the complaint states a viable Eighth Amendment claim under Ziglar against Defendant Luke.


         For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows.

         1. The Court finds that amended complaint states a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim ...

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