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Jefferson v. Villanueva

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 22, 2019





         Plaintiff De'Vante Jefferson (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) primarily arising out of his conditions of confinement at Twin Towers Correctional Facility. For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.


         On August 21, 2019, Plaintiff, who was confined at Twin Towers Correctional Facility at the time of the alleged conduct, constructively filed[1] the Complaint against defendants County of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Deputy Merino in their individual and official capacities, and deputies Boling, Vasquez, and Velasquez in their individual capacity (“Defendants”). ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1.

         Plaintiff appears to sue defendants County of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, and Sherriff Villanueva for violations of the Eighth Amendment and ADA for holding him in conditions of confinement “equat[ing] to torture.” Id. at 12-13. In addition, Plaintiff alleges defendant Boling, the ADA coordinator for the Twin Towers facility and a “superior officer, ” violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights and the ADA because defendant Boling is obligated to “ensure that the housing units are in ADA compliance.” Id. at 14. Plaintiff specifically alleges he “endured filthy, unsafe, unhealthy, and inadequate living conditions” at Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Id. at 8. Plaintiff alleges he was denied access to cleaning supplies and cold drinking water, lights are left on 24 hours a day, and medical equipment and restrooms are not ADA compliant. Id.

         Plaintiff also alleges claims against defendants Vasquez and Velasquez under “due process” and the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments for denying him access to courts. Id. at 15. Plaintiff alleges defendant Vasquez, “who runs the legal mail department, has failed to deliver legal mail in a timely ma[nn]er.” Id. Plaintiff alleges defendant Velasquez, “who is assigned to the legal unit, ” failed in his obligation to assist Plaintiff in filing a complaint regarding his conditions of confinement by denying him access to the law library, legal supplies, postage, and a notary. Id. at 10, 15.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges defendant Merino violated his First, Fifth, Eighth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges defendant Merino interfered with Plaintiff's mobility equipment, “consistently harassed [Plaintiff] without provocation, ” and strip-searched Plaintiff on one occasion. Id. at 10. Plaintiff alleges he filed a grievance “on [defendant Merino's] behavior and ever since he's been retaliating against [Plaintiff].” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks an injunction against defendant Merino and “relief in the amount of [$]20, 000.” Id. at 6.


         Where a plaintiff is incarcerated and/or proceeding in forma pauperis, a court must screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A; see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (“Rule 8”), a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, a court applies the same pleading standard as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012).

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim “where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint “must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,' and a ‘pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889-90 (9th Cir. 2008). However, liberal construction should only be afforded to “a plaintiff's factual allegations, ” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 339 (1989), and a court need not accept as true “unreasonable inferences or assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, ” Ileto v. Glock Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003).

         If a court finds the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, the court has discretion to dismiss with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears possible the defects in the complaint could be corrected, especially if the plaintiff is pro se. Id. at 1130-31; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). However, if, after careful consideration, it is clear a complaint cannot be cured by amendment, the court may dismiss without leave to amend. Cato, 70 F.3d at 1107-11; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th Cir. 2009).



         1.Applicable Law

         Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the programs, services or activities of a public entity. However, Title II of the ADA only affords causes of action against public entities, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794, 794a; 42 U.S.C. § 12132; Miranda B. v. Kitzhaber, 328 F.3d 1181, 1187 (9th Cir. 2003), and does not encompass public officials sued in their individual capacities. Hayes v. Voong, 709 Fed.Appx. 494, 495 (9th Cir. 2018)[2]; Roberts v. California Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., No. EDCV 16-1929 CJC (JC), 2017 WL 3635175, at *9 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 22, 2017).

         To state a claim for violation of Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must show that (1) he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) he was excluded from participation in or otherwise discriminated against with regard to a public entity's services, programs, or activities; and (3) such exclusion or discrimination was by reason of his disability. Lovell v. Chandler, 303 F.3d 1039, 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1105 (2003).

         To recover monetary damages under the ADA, Plaintiff must show intentional discrimination on the part of state officials. Duvall v. County of Kitsap, 260 F.3d 1124, 1138 (9th Cir. 2001). The test for intentional discrimination is deliberate indifference. Id. A defendant acts with deliberate indifference only if (1) the defendant has knowledge from which an inference could be drawn that a harm to a federally protected right is substantially likely, and (2) the defendant actually draws that inference and fails to act upon the likelihood. See id. at 1138-39.

         2. ...

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