United States District Court, E.D. California
M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the Court
is Plaintiff's first amended complaint (ECF No. 14).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are failing to keep him
safe by continually placing him in a double cell with
individuals who threaten his safety, violating his Eighth
Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
SCREENING REQUIREMENT AND STANDARD
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or
portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2)
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or
(3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require complaints contain a
“…short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See
McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)). Detailed factual allegations
are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts
“are not required to indulge unwarranted
inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to
have their pleadings liberally construed and are afforded the
benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338,
342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive
screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible,
which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court
to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for
the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret
Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer
possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not
sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short
of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572F.3d at 969.
names 19 named Defendants and 4 Doe Defendants. Plaintiff
alleges each Defendant violated his eighth amendment right to
safety by continually housing him in double cell housing
units. Plaintiff contends that his “case factors”
make him a target for physical altercations and threats to
his safety and to his life. Plaintiff alleges that each named
Defendant knew, should have known, or was involved in,
Plaintiff's continual housing with cellmates who posed a
significant threat of harm to him. Plaintiff does not raise
any allegations against Defendants D.R. Evans, R. Raetz,
Porter, A. Konrad, or Does 1-4.
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny
under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual
punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31
(1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
The Eighth Amendment “. . . embodies broad and
idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards,
humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 102 (1976). Conditions of confinement may, however,
be harsh and restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must
provide prisoners with “food, clothing, shelter,
sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.”
Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir.
1986). A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only
when two requirements are met: (1) objectively, the
official's act or omission must be so serious such that
it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison
official must have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the
purpose of inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834. Thus, to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official
must have a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See
these principles, prison officials have a duty to take
reasonable steps to protect inmates from physical abuse.
See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250-51 (9th
Cir. 1982); Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833. Liability
exists only when two requirements are met: (1) objectively,
the prisoner was incarcerated under conditions presenting a
substantial risk of serious harm; and (2) subjectively,
prison officials knew of and disregarded the risk. See
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. The very obviousness of the
risk may suffice to establish the knowledge element. See
Wallis v. Baldwin, 70 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1995).
Prison officials are not liable, however, if evidence is
presented that they lacked knowledge of a safety risk.
See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844. The knowledge element
does not require that the plaintiff prove that prison
officials know for a certainty that the inmate's safety
is in danger, but it requires proof of more than a mere
suspicion of danger. See Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d
457, 459 (9th Cir. 1986). Finally, the plaintiff must show
that prison officials disregarded a risk. Thus, where prison
officials actually knew of a substantial risk, they are not
liable if they took reasonable steps to respond to the risk,
even if harm ultimately was not averted. See Farmer,
511 U.S. at 844.
alleges that each named defendant violated his eighth
amendment right to safety by continually placing him in
double cell housing units with incompatible cellmates.
However, because there are no factual allegations related to
Defendants D.R. Evans, R. Raetz, Porter, A. Konrad, or Does
1-4, the Eighth Amendment claim cannot proceed against them.
Further, Plaintiff's allegations against Tim Virga, D.
Deroco, J. Tabayoyonh, T. Hinrichs, Brown, Slaighter, J.
Prentice, Villasenor, Jochim, Kimzey, David Baughman,
Petersen, and Claugh all fail to establish an Eight Amendment
violation. Though Plaintiff claims these Defendants failed to
protect him by continually double celling him with
incompatible cellmates, there is no indication that they did
this intentionally. Rather, the complaint indicates that
these Defendants continually attempted to find Plaintiff a
compatible cellmate, removing him from dangerous situations,
placing him in a segregated unit when necessary, and placing
him back in a double cell when a new cellmate was identified.
The complaint fails to allege any facts that Defendants
subjectively knew and disregarded a risk to Plaintiff's
safety. Further, Plaintiff has failed to establish that
either Defendant psychiatrist, D. Sharp or R. Grosse,
disregarded any risk to Plaintiff's safety. In fact, the
complaint seems to indicate both D. Sharp and R. Grosse
advised Plaintiff on who to speak with and what to do if he
felt his life was in danger.
above stated reasons, Plaintiff has failed to establish an
Eighth Amendment violation. However, because it may be
possible for Plaintiff to cure these defects, he will be
provided leave to amend.