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Green v. Link

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 27, 2019

VENCIL GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
J. LINK, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTARTE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel. 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).

         II. Screening Standards

         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 Twombly, 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).

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendants

         In his complaint, plaintiff names as defendants 23 individuals who work at Mule Creek State Prison (“MCSP”) or the California Department of Corrections (“CDCR”), including the Warden and Acting Warden at MCSP, and the Secretary of CDCR.

         B. Multiple, Unrelated Incidents

         Plaintiff includes allegations concerning multiple, unrelated incidents that occurred at MCSP:

         First, plaintiff raises retaliation claims based on various incidents that occurred from 2017 to 2019 in the visiting room, as well as actions taken in related administrative appeals, and subsequent disciplinary proceedings. Plaintiff also raises various claims concerning his wife, including a claim that prison staff placed her too close to the fan, despite knowing her medical conditions.

         Second, plaintiff claims his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were violated by the falsifying of documents by defendants Link and Radus on April 14, 15, 2018, and May 5, 2018, related to the calculation of plaintiff's minimum eligibility release date and the earning and loss of time credits. (ECF No. 1 at 19.)

         Third, plaintiff alleges that every weekend since May 2018, he has been exposed to an excessive level of radiation in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 1 at 20.) Because his wife visits every weekend, plaintiff is compelled to undergo a full body x-ray of radiation without a “protective gonal shield.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff is advised that he may not pursue unrelated claims in one lawsuit. Plaintiff may join multiple claims if they are all against a single defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). If plaintiff has more than one claim based upon separate transactions or occurrences, the claims must be set forth in separate paragraphs. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b). Unrelated claims against different defendants must be pursued in multiple lawsuits.

The controlling principle appears in Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a): ‘A party asserting a claim . . . may join, [] as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims . . . as the party has against an opposing party.' Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2) (joinder of defendants not permitted unless both commonality and same transaction requirements are satisfied).

         Here, it appears that plaintiff may be able to state a cognizable First Amendment claim based on the alleged retaliation by defendant Link, [1] but plaintiff may only pursue such claims based on incidents involving the same defendant in one case. Other retaliation claims must be filed in a separate action. In addition, the remainder of plaintiff's allegations are unrelated and must be pursued in separate lawsuits. In addition, as to the third cause of action, it is unclear to what machine plaintiff is referring. However, if plaintiff is referring to the magnetometer that is used for security screenings every day at the airport and courthouses, as well as state prisons, it is unlikely plaintiff can state a cognizable federal civil rights claim as to such use.[2] In any event, such claim is wholly unrelated to plaintiff's retaliation claim and must also be pursued in a separate lawsuit.

         Accordingly, plaintiff's complaint is dismissed, and plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint raising only related claims.

         C. Potential Governing Standards

         In order to assist plaintiff in amending the complaint, he is advised of the ...


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