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Fields v. Director of CDCR

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2019

CARLTON DEWAYNE FIELDS, Plaintiff,
v.
DIRECTOR OF CDCR, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel, with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's second amended complaint. (ECF No. 21.) For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned recommends that this action be dismissed.

         In the original complaint, plaintiff named as defendants the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), CDCR Director Kernan and California State Prison-Corcoran (“Corcoran”) Warden Sexton. (ECF No. 1.) In the original complaint, plaintiff raised two claims. (Id.) Plaintiff alleged that he had been denied single cell housing in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleged that CDCR had a new policy to house inmates housed on sensitive needs yards (“SNY”), like plaintiff, with general population (“GP”) inmates. Plaintiff alleged that housing him in a GP yard put him in danger.

         On May 4, 2018, the undersigned issued an order and findings and recommendations screening the original complaint. (ECF No. 8.) The undersigned dismissed with leave to amend plaintiff's claim alleging denial of single cell housing based on plaintiff's failure to link any defendants to the alleged deprivation. (Id.) The undersigned recommended dismissal of defendant CDCR pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. (Id.) The undersigned recommended that plaintiff's claim challenging the policy of mixing of SNY and GP inmates be dismissed based on plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies as to this claim. (Id.)

         On June 15, 2018, the Honorable Morrison C. England adopted the May 4, 2018 findings and recommendations. (ECF No. 14.)

         On October 9, 2018, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint. (ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff named as defendants Secretary Kernan, Warden Sexton and Corcoran Counselor K. Matta. (Id.) Plaintiff again raised a claim alleging that defendant Kernan enacted an unconstitutional policy of mixing SNY and GP inmates. (Id.) Plaintiff raised another claim alleging that all defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be protected from harm by other inmates by denying his request for single cell housing. (Id.)

         On November 27, 2018, the undersigned issued an order and findings and recommendations addressing the first amended complaint. (ECF No. 19.) The undersigned recommended that plaintiff's claim challenging the policy of mixing SNY and GP inmates again be dismissed. (Id. at 5.) While plaintiff had exhausted administrative remedies as to this claim, he failed to complete administrative exhaustion prior to filing this action. (Id. at 2.)

         In the November 27, 2018 order, the undersigned found that plaintiff's claim alleging that defendants improperly denied his request for single cell housing was based on events that occurred at Corcoran. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff claimed that he made defendants aware of his safety needs, at Corcoran, through administrative appeals. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff claimed that he had been involved in numerous cell fights of which defendants were aware. (Id.)

         Plaintiff based defendant Matta's liability on his interview with plaintiff regarding his first level grievance seeking single cell housing at Corcoran. (Id.) In the November 27, 2018 order, the undersigned cited defendant Sexton's April 12, 2017 response to plaintiff's second level grievance requesting single cell housing attached to the first amended complaint:

ICC elected to continue you on double cell status per Classification Committee Chrono dated February 22, 2017, which states in part, “ICC dated 9/1/16 elected to continue S on double cell. S has remained double cell without further documented incidents. Therefore this ICC elects to continue S on D/C with compatible inmate with safety concerns. S meets departmental D/C policy, noting S has no significant history of in-cell predatory/assaultive behavior toward his cellmates.” Your in-cell disciplinary history was also reviewed, “S has the following history of in-cell assaultive behavior toward cellmates: RVR dated 3/9/13 for Battery on an Inmate, RVR dated 9/18/15 for Fighting and RVR dated 8/26/16 for Battery on a Prisoner.” You do not have any custody related case factors which would preclude you from double cell housing.

(Id. at 3.)

         In addressing plaintiff's claim alleging that his request for single cell housing at Corcoran was improperly denied, the undersigned found,

In claim one, plaintiff appears to allege that his failure to receive single cell status while housed at Corcoran violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Prison officials have a duty under the Eighth Amendment to avoid excessive risks to inmate safety. See, e.g., Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, plaintiff must allege defendants were “deliberate[ly] indifferen[t]” to “conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.” Id. Deliberate indifference is more than mere negligence, but less than purpose or knowledge. See id. at 836. A prison official acts with deliberate indifference only if he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.
The exhibits attached to the amended complaint demonstrate that plaintiff's requests for single cell status, while housed at Corcoran, were denied in February 2017 and April 2017. Defendant Sexton denied plaintiff's request for single cell housing in April 2017 because plaintiff had been double celled since September 1, 2016 with no in-cell incidents. Defendant Sexton cited three previous incidents where plaintiff was ...

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