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Kramer v. Gutierrez

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 25, 2019

TERRY LEO KRAMER, Plaintiff,
v.
JACOB GUTIERREZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF SERVICE; DISMISSING CERTAIN DEFENDANTS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Terry Leo Kramer, an inmate at California Health Care Facility in Stockton, California, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         DISCUSSION

         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. Complaint

         The complaint makes the following allegations. Plaintiff was detained at gunpoint by Petaluma Police Department officer Jacob Gutierrez. Plaintiff “proned out” on the ground, lying on his belly with his arms out, and informed Officer Gutierrez that Officer Gutierrez should not jump on Plaintiff's back because Plaintiff recently had undergone spinal surgery. Officer Gutierrez disregarded the warning and jumped on Plaintiff's back, breaking Plaintiff's T-12 hardware screws and also bending other hardware. Plaintiff immediately felt pain and realized that his back had been broken. Plaintiff asked Officer Gutierrez and many other officers for medical care, but all the officers refused. Plaintiff was then taken to Sonoma County Jail, where his requests for medical attention were also denied. Upon arriving at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Plaintiff received an MRI and x-rays which showed that his T-12 hardware screws had been broken. As a result of Officer Gutierrez's actions and the denial of medical care while at Sonoma County Jail, Plaintiff now requires spinal surgery to fix his broken back. Dkt. No. 1 at 3.

         Plaintiff names as defendants Officer Gutierrez, Petaluma Police Department, Sonoma County Jail, and Sonoma County.

         C. Legal Claims

         1. Claim No. 1: Excessive Force

         The complaint argues that Officer Gutierrez used excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he jumped needlessly on Plaintiff's back while detaining him. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. An allegation that Officer Gutierrez used excessive force in effectuating Plaintiff's arrest states a valid claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Rutherford v. City of Berkeley, 780 F.2d 1444, 1447 (9th Cir. 1986), overruled on other grounds by Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989); see also Byrd v. Phoenix Police Dep't, 885 F.3d 639, 641-42 (9th Cir. 2018) (pro se allegations that police officers “beat the crap out of” plaintiff and caused him severe injury enough to support legally cognizable claim under § 1983). ...


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