United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS IN PART (ECF NO. 17)
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Hodges (“Plaintiff”) is a federal prisoner
proceeding pro se with this civil rights action
pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics
Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint. For the
reasons described below, the undersigned recommends that the
motion to dismiss be granted in part, Plaintiff's claim
for damages under Bivens for unconstitutional
conditions of confinement be dismissed with prejudice, and
this case proceed on Plaintiff's request for injunctive
filed the Complaint commencing this action on June 8, 2018.
(ECF No. 1). On November 28, 2018, the Court screened the
Complaint and found it appropriate for service of process on
Plaintiff's claims for unconstitutional conditions of
confinement against Defendants Matevousian, Cassity, and
Hurte (collectively “Defendants”). (ECF No. 6).
April 12, 2019, Defendants filed the instant motion to
dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that the Complaint fails
to state a claim under the Supreme Court's ruling in
Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843 (2017), and that
special factors weigh against implying a Bivens
remedy in this new context. (ECF No. 17). Plaintiff filed an
opposition and supplemental opposition, and Defendants filed
a reply. (ECF Nos. 19, 20, 23).
SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
is an inmate at the Federal Prison Camp in Atwater,
California (“FPC”). Plaintiff has been at FPC
since May 26, 2015. The Complaint alleges that until
approximately September 2017, the lights in Plaintiff's
unit would be turned off upon the completion of the 9:30 p.m.
stand-up count. They would be turned back on at 5:45 a.m. the
following day. However, there was an abrupt change that
occurred with no prior notice given to the inmates. Instead
of the lights going off completely after the 9:30 p.m. count,
they were now being left on.
alleges that to say this change occurred because they were
deemed “emergency lights” would be disingenuous
at best as the exit signs in each of the four corners of the
unit are clearly illuminated. The lights are very bright and
make a distinct humming sound. As a result of this change,
Plaintiff is suffering from sleep deprivation.
immediately started the administrative remedy procedure and
was promptly told by the camp administrator that this change
was for the “safety of staff and
inmates.” Plaintiff contends that Defendants did
not perform their due diligence and adequately investigate
his claim. For example, they never came to FPC except during
daylight hours to check on the impact of the lighting at
night, and there are twenty-eight windows surrounding the
dormitory that let a considerable amount of light in during
the day. Additionally, their responses to Plaintiff's
administrative remedies never mentioned Plaintiff's sleep
alleges that there was no penal interest in suddenly leaving
the lights on after the 9:30 p.m. count, nor was there an
incident that upset the balance of the prison with staff or
inmates that would justify such a change. The change was made
without regard for the health effects that Plaintiff has
alleges that “[a]fter careful examination of the
facts” the staff members who are directly responsible
for the change are: Warden Andre Matevousian, who allowed the
violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights to
occur; Captain Hurte, who failed to perform his due diligence
and allowed the change to occur; and Camp Administrator
Cassity, who responded to Plaintiff's administrative
grievance by providing an unsubstantiated claim about the
“safety of staff and inmates, ” when for
years there had been no issues threatening either staff or
prayer for relief, Petitioner requests: (1) the camp
nighttime lighting to be brought to “acceptable
standards”; (2) transfer to the Federal Prison Camp in
Mendota, California; and (3) $1, 000, 000 in damages.
Motion to Dismiss
considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all
allegations of material fact in the complaint as true.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007);
Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738,
740 (1976). The Court must also construe the alleged facts in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), abrogated on other
grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982);
Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816 (9th Cir.1994)
(per curiam). All ambiguities or doubts must also be resolved
in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v.
McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). In addition,
pro se pleadings “must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342
(9th Cir. 2010).
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) operates to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Rule 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
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
“The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately
prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer
evidence to support the claims.” Scheuer, 416
U.S. at 236.
first step in testing the sufficiency of the complaint is to
identify any conclusory allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to
provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation