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Johnson v. E. Hall

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 13, 2019

CHARLES JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
E. HALL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding through counsel. On September 5, 2019, defendants removed this action from Lassen County Superior Court. Defendants request that the court screen this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, regardless of whether plaintiff is represented by counsel. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); In re Prison Litig. Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997) (“District courts are required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel, as [§ 1915A] does not differentiate between civil actions brought by prisoners.”).

         For the reasons stated herein, plaintiff's claim alleging violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights is dismissed with leave to amend.

         Legal Standard for Screening

         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). A claim “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). 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 omitted).

         “Federal 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)). However, 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. (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. 2004)).

         “[A] 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), 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).

         Plaintiff's Claims

         Named as defendants are the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”), California Correctional Health Care Services (“CCHCS”), Correctional Officers Hall, Hollandsworth, David, Speiker, Phillips, Smith, Shannon and Wentz, and Nurses Chiguaque and Rice.

         Plaintiff alleges that on June 27, 2017, he was attacked by inmates on the C-yard with some form of weapon. Plaintiff was stabbed in the back. Defendants Hollandsworth, David, Speiker, Phillips, Smith, Shannon, Wentz and Anderson were watching the yard and charged with the safety and security of plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that the alarm never sounded. Plaintiff grabbed a towel and proceeded toward the gun tower where an officer, believed to be defendant Wentz, did not want to let plaintiff be treated by medical staff.

         Plaintiff was eventually let inside and told by a correctional officer that someone had long fingernails, because plaintiff had cuts on his back. Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell and began to clean his wounds. Plaintiff noticed that he had a 6 to 7 inch cut on the back of his shoulders along with wounds to the back of his head. As plaintiff cleaned his wounds, defendant Wentz told staff that plaintiff had to be sent back to the yard. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Rice and Chiguaque observed his wounds but did nothing or little to treat them.

         Plaintiff was instructed to return to the yard. As plaintiff re-entered the yard approximately fifteen minutes after the attack, plaintiff was again attacked by two inmates while defendants Hall, Hollandsworth, David, Speiker, Phillips, Smith, Shannon, Wentz and Anderson were charged with maintaining plaintiff's safety. At this time, the alarm sounded and defendant Hall yanked plaintiff's arm back, causing plaintiff to suffer a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder as plaintiff lay on the ground and was not resisting.

         The complaint contains the following legal claims: 1) negligence against all defendants; 2) excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment against all defendants, except for defendants CCHCS, Rice and Chiguaque; 3) violation of the Bane Act against all defendants, except for defendants CCHCS, Rice and ...


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