United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has paid the filing fee.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
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 “frivolous,
malicious, or 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).
“is [legally] frivolous where 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).
“[A] judge may dismiss . . . claims which are
‘based on indisputably meritless legal theories' or
whose ‘factual contentions are clearly
baseless.'” Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d
639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 327), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated
in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).
The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim,
however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual
basis. Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227-28 (citations
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,' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in
original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915A
incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of
failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6).” Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680
F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). 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.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).
“‘[T]he pleading must contain something more . .
. than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of
action.'” Id. (alteration in original)
(quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed.
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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“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. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In reviewing a complaint
under this standard, the court must accept as true the
allegations of the complaint in question, Hosp. Bldg. Co.
v. Trs. of the Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976)
(citation omitted), as well as 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 (1969) (citations omitted).
Allegations of the Complaint
complaint alleges that plaintiff was transferred from Solano
State Prison to Avenal State Prison in the spring of 2012,
although he was a chronic care patient suffering from an
unspecified lung disease and Avenal's location presented
a known and substantial risk of exposure to Valley Fever.
Plaintiff objected to the named defendants both before and
after his transfer to Avenal that this placement was
medically contraindicated because of his susceptibility to
Valley Fever. Defendants deliberately disregarded
plaintiff's pleas, and as a result he contracted Valley
Fever and almost died. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and
Ninth Circuit held on February 1, 2019, that California
prison officials are entitled to qualified immunity in cases
alleging exposure to Valley Fever, because an Eighth
Amendment right to be free from heightened risk to exposure
is not clearly established. Hines v. Youseff, 914
F.3d 1218 (9th Cir. 2019). The court reasoned as
The inmates allege that the defendant state officials
violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on
“cruel and unusual punishments” by being
deliberately indifferent to the inmates' heightened risk
of getting Valley Fever. The district courts in
Smith, Gregge, and Hines held that
the officials are entitled qualified immunity against those
claims. Reviewing de novo, we affirm. Any Eighth Amendment
right to be free from heightened risk of Valley Fever was not
clearly established when the officials acted.
[. . .]
To determine whether an official is entitled to qualified
immunity, we ask two questions: (1) whether the
official's conduct violated a constitutional right; and
(2) whether that right was “clearly established”
at the time of the violation. Helling v. McKinney[,
509 U.S. 25 (1993)] sets out the constitutional framework for
Eighth Amendment claims about involuntary exposure to
environmental hazards. It held that an Eighth Amendment claim
against an ...