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Belyew v. Honea

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 16, 2019

LISA BELYEW, Plaintiff,
v.
KORY L. HONEA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a former pretrial detainee and current state prisoner, proceeds pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was accordingly referred to the undersigned by Local Rule 302(c)(17).

         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has filed several requests for leave to proceed in forma pauperis that include declarations that make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). ECF Nos. 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17. The motions to proceed in forma pauperis will therefore be granted.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, Plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from Plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, Plaintiff will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to Plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in Plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners[1] 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 “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.” Id. § 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). “[A] judge may dismiss . . . claims which are ‘based on indisputably meritless legal theories' or whose ‘factual contentions are clearly baseless.'” Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). 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)). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915A incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (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) (citation omitted), 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).

         III. Facts of the Complaint

         The complaint alleges that defendants Honea and Ahern violated plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights in relation to a pre-incarceration strip search. ECF No. 1 at 1, 3, 11-12. Plaintiff, formerly a pretrial detainee at the Butte County Jail, contends that the squat-and-cough procedure constitutes “unconstitutional body cavity searches.” Id. at 3, 12. Specifically, a female correctional officer forced plaintiff to perform the squat and cough procedure four times. Id. at 12. The procedure and its repetition allegedly caused plaintiff both physical and emotional stress because of her “medical incontinence issue, ” pain in her right knee, and “past sexual abuse in [her] life AND documented sexual abuse by various male ‘law-enforcement' officers.” Id. Further, the complaint alleges that the officer was later overheard telling a male officer that “I don't trust [plaintiff]. She was leaking.” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages of an unspecified amount, and injunctive relief to stop the body cavity searches. Id. at 3.

         IV. Failure to State a Claim

         A. Failure to Link Claims ...


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