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Barno v. Frazier

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 23, 2019

RODNEY BARNO, Plaintiff,
C. FRAZIER, et al., Defendants.


         Rodney Barno (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on October 9, 2018. (ECF No. 1).

         On May 2, 2019, the Court issued a screening order. (ECF No. 12). The Court found that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for violation of his due process rights because Plaintiff failed to allege that he suffered any adverse consequences from being found guilty of the Rules Violation Report (“RVR”). (Id. at 7).

         The Court directed Plaintiff to either: 1) file an amended complaint; or 2) notify the Court in writing that he wants to stand on his current complaint, subject to this Court issuing findings and recommendations to the assigned district judge consistent with the screening order. (Id. at 9). After receiving two extensions of time (ECF Nos. 15 & 17), Plaintiff failed to respond to the screening order. However, as it appears that Plaintiff may have chosen to stand on his current complaint (ECF No. 16, p. 2), the Court issues these findings and recommendations consistent with the screening order.


         The 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 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis (ECF No. 4), the Court may also screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or appeal fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). 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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. 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). Additionally, a plaintiff’s legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).


         Plaintiff alleges that on January 19, 2016, he was placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (“ASU”) because “confidential information” indicated “safety/enemy concerns.” Plaintiff was “deemed a threat to the safety and security of the institution, staff and inmates.”

         After ASU staff labeled Plaintiff a “snitch” to other ASU inmates, they tried to house Plaintiff with an incompatible inmate in the cell Plaintiff was already housed in, despite Plaintiff’s safety/enemy concerns, and without following procedures on inmate housing.

         Plaintiff was charged with an RVR for willfully delaying a peace officer in the performance of duty by refusing to accept a compatible cellmate in violation of 15 CCR § 3005(c). However, Plaintiff did not violate 15 CCR § 3005(c), and the charge was false.

         Defendant Williams classified the RVR, and knowingly allowed the false charges to proceed. He also failed to follow fair procedures on giving adequate notice of the charges against Plaintiff, specifically because Plaintiff never refused to be housed or assigned.

         Defendant Smith was the chief disciplinary officer on Plaintiff’s RVR, and on March 22, 2016, authorized the charges to remain, even though Plaintiff was completely denied procedural due process protections. Defendant Smith knew that defendant Williams denied Plaintiff documentary evidence and witnesses, and further permitted defendant Frazier to hear the matter and adjudicate guilt without fair procedures.

         Defendant Tapia was the investigative employee assigned to assist Plaintiff. Defendant Tapia denied Plaintiff due process protections. He failed to interview witnesses for Plaintiff’s defense. He waited for witnesses to transfer, making them unavailable for Plaintiff’s investigation. Pursuant to regulations, he was supposed to pursue the witnesses even after they transferred, but he failed to do so. Additionally, instead of investigating and collecting evidence to help Plaintiff, he denied Plaintiff almost all his witnesses and evidence as “not relevant” because defendant Frazier advised him to, despite procedures that demand otherwise. Defendant Tapia was working with and for defendant Frazier, not for Plaintiff. Defendant Tapia also ...

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