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Lewis v. Khan

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 30, 2019

BRIAN LEWIS, CDCR #J-49028, Plaintiff,
ALAN KHAN, Defendant.


          Hon. William Q. Hayes United States District Court

         I. Procedural History

         On July 5, 2019, Brian Lewis (“Plaintiff”), an inmate currently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, filed a civil rights action (“Compl.”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed two Motions to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (ECF Nos. 2, 4.) Plaintiff claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when he was previously housed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) in 2015. (ECF No. 1 at 1.)

         On August 20, 2019, Plaintiff was granted IFP status but the Court simultaneously dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which § 1983 relief may be granted and for raising duplicative claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) & § 1915A(b). (ECF No. 6 at 5-10.) Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading found in the Court's Order. (Id. at 10.) On October 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 7.)

         II. Sua Sponte Screening per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A

         A. Standard of Review

         As the Court previously informed Plaintiff, because he is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his FAC requires a pre-answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint “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) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         B. Plaintiff's factual allegations[1]

         In 2015, Plaintiff was “housed at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”).” (FAC at 3.) Defendant Khan is the “State Chaplain at RJD.” (Id.) Khan was “appointed by Daniel Paramo, Warden of RJD, to be the staff head of the RJD Religious Meat Alternate Program (“RMA”).” (Id.) In 2014, Plaintiff was “elected to the RJD Men's Advisory Council (“MAC”). (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2015, “RJD Facility A was experiencing food shortages in the culinary.” (Id.) At the same time, “RJD MAC was receiving an abundance of complaints concerning the RJD RMA program.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that the “MAC executive body” determined that the “root of the food problems” was due to Khan purportedly “abdicat[ing] part of his duties as the RMA head to CDCR inmates.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Khan “was allowing inmates to add and delete inmates from the RMA.” (Id.) The MAC chairman “sent a formal request to Warden Paramo to meet with the food manager concerning the RMA issues.” (Id. at 4.)

         On March 1, 2015, Plaintiff “wrote a ‘formal complaint' concerning Khan's handling of the RMA program.” (Id.) Plaintiff included in the complaint claims that “inmates were waiting for their RMA ID for over 90 days and that the RMA count was inconsistent with the amount of religious meats received into the Facility A kitchen/culinary.” (Id.)

         On March 9, 2015, Plaintiff “reported to the RJD Facility A culinary to pick up his religious meal.” (Id. at 5.) However, Plaintiff was “informed by the Food Service Supervisor that Khan had called to the culinary and said Plaintiff was to be removed from the list immediately.” (Id.) Plaintiff “immediately filled out a CDCR Form 22 request for interview” seeking to find out “why he had been removed from the RMA list.” (Id.) Two days later, Plaintiff “received a CDCR 3030-C Religious Diet Program Agreement Notice of Non Compliance from Khan.” (Id.) Khan ‚Äúremoved Plaintiff from RMA for 6 months because Plaintiff had ...

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