United States District Court, E.D. California
KEITH M. CASSELLS, Plaintiff,
NADINE N. VILLA, et al., Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims
that his rights have been violated because he has not been
found suitable for parole. Presently before the court is
plaintiff's amended complaint for screening. (ECF No.
12.) For the reasons set forth below, the court will
recommend that the complaint be dismissed without leave to
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).
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 where 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 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.” Bell
Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint
under this standard, the court must accept as true the
allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg.
Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976),
construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's
favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421
Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States .
. . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Here, the defendants must act under
color of federal law. Bivens, 403 U.S. at 389. The
statute requires that there be an actual connection or link
between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation
alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See
Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658
(1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976).
“A person ‘subjects' another to the
deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of
§ 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in
another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act
which he is legally required to do that causes the
deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v.
Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
supervisory personnel are generally not liable under §
1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of
respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant
holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him
and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically
alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862
(9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438,
441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations
concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil
rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board
of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
Allegations in the Amended Complaint
names as defendants: (1) Nadine Villa; (2) Terry Fowler; (3)
Vijay Desai; (4) Nina Starr; (5) John Garcia; and (6) Rhoda
Skipper-Dotta. (ECF No. 12 at 3.)
alleges that on March 2, 1998 he was sentenced to a prison
term of thirty years for several counts of second-degree
robbery. (Id. at 4.) Approximately ten days later he
was returned to court so that Villa, the victim of one of the
robberies, could make a statement.
alleges that Villa was (and possibly still is) an employee of
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR). (Id.) He claims her speech contained
accusations based on “feelings” and not on the
“facts” of the case. Villa called plaintiff a
monster and “stated she hoped some hairy lifer would
attempt” to sexually assault plaintiff. (ECF No. 12 at
argues Villa's purpose in speaking at the sentencing
hearing was to document allegations that could not be shown
by the district attorney and “to aid Villa's
‘Red Flagging' of Plaintiff's prison file for
all Correctional Counselors and Case records Staff to see and
take note of.” Plaintiff alleges he was assaulted by
fellow inmates on two separate occasions and an officer used
excessive force against him. Plaintiff claims these incidents
“all stemmed from Defendant Villa's vindictiveness,
as the perpetrators of the assaults suffered no major
consequence, as one //// was classified as a mental patient
and the other paroled soon after attacking plaintiff from
behind.” Plaintiff claims that he has been denied
parole based on false documentation that was not contained in
his prison file.
challenges several findings of unsuitability for release on
parole as set forth below:
- August 27, 2015 - Fowler cited a recent rules
violation and a victim letter opposing release in finding
plaintiff unsuitable for release. Plaintiff claims he
verified that he had not received a rules violation since
2012 and ...