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Cadena v. Preston

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 10, 2019

VICTOR CADENA, Plaintiff,
v.
J. PRESTON, Defendant.

          ORDER REOPENING ACTION; ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          RICHARD SEEBORG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff fails to state any claim for relief in his amended 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint. Accordingly, this federal civil rights action is DISMISSED.

         This suit was dismissed because plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint by the deadline. He since has filed an amended complaint. Accordingly, the judgment and the order of dismissal are VACATED. (Dkt. Nos. 5 and 6.) The Clerk shall reopen this action and modify the docket to reflect this fact. The Court now will review the amended complaint.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court “is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Legal Claims

         1. Original Complaint

         The original complaint was dismissed (with leave to amend) because it raised conclusory contentions. Plaintiff alleged without elaboration that in 2018 J. Preston, a prison guard at Pelican Bay State Prison, refused to place him on suicide watch and made insulting comments. This was insufficient. First, while prison guards certainly must “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates, ” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-527 (1984), there is no constitutional right for an inmate to be placed on suicide watch. Second, plaintiff failed to articulate any reason Preston should have been concerned about plaintiff's personal safety. Merely saying without any factual enhancement that he should have been placed on suicide watch is insufficient.

         Plaintiff was directed to provide specific reasons Preston should have been alerted to plaintiff's condition, and the dates, times, and places on which plaintiff exhibited any alarming symptoms. He was told that federal pleading standards “demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. He was also directed to pay attention to the following. A person deprives another “of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which [the plaintiff complains].” Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation. Id.

         Plaintiff's allegations regarding Preston's comments failed to state a claim for relief and were dismissed with prejudice. Neither disrespectful, insulting, and vulgar language, nor verbal harassment, are actionable under section 1983. See Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 738 (9th Cir. 1997).

         2. First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges without elaboration that in September 2018 he told Preston he “was having suicidal thoughts.” (Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 7 at 3.) There is no factual enhancement beyond this statement. According to plaintiff, Preston had to follow state protocols and alert mental health professionals for an evaluation. (Id.) Her actions, he contends, ...


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