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Ardds v. Hicks

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 30, 2019

ANTOINE L. ARDDS, Plaintiff,
D. HICKS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Antoine L. Ardds (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on September 21, 2018, and the matter was transferred to this Court on September 26, 2018. (ECF Nos. 1 and 3.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on December 11, 2018, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 23.)

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b).

         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). 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at California State Prison, Corcoran (“CSP-Corcoran”), where the events in the amended complaint are alleged to have occurred. Plaintiff brings this action for damages, along with declaratory and injunctive relief, against the following defendants: (1) Lieutenant J. Amaya; (2) Correctional Counselor D. Sanchez; (3) Officer J. Alcantar; (4) Officer J. McIntyre; (5) Officer D. Hicks; (6) Officer A. Baylon; and (7) Licensed Correctional Social Worker R. Severens. Plaintiff names defendants in their individual and official capacities.

         Allegations re Substantial Risk of Serious Harm

         On September 2, 2017, Plaintiff was housed in a CTC-Mental Health Crisis Bed at CSP-Corcoran due to Plaintiff's suicidal condition. On November 2, 2017, Defendants Severens and Sanchez were informed by Plaintiff of his fears of being set up by CSP-Corcoran-3B officials for being an active participant in several civil actions against CDCR officials. Plaintiff made several requests for a single cell due to an alleged history of CDCR officials staging in-cell assaults by cellmates.

         On December 28, 2017, Defendants Severens and Sanchez were given Plaintiff's Inmate Request for Interview CDCR 22 form requesting a single cell. Plaintiff informed both defendants of the possible use of cellmates by CSP-Corcoran-3B officials as instruments of assault in retaliation for filing civil actions and witnessing abuse of authority and discriminatory actions by CSP-Corcoran officials against the 3-B Facility mental health population.

         Plaintiff claims that due to the deliberate indifference of Defendants Severens and Sanchez, Plaintiff was assaulted by his cell mate, Inmate T. Hall, on November 9, 2017. Plaintiff sustained severe facial injuries from being struck from behind by Inmate Hall. Inmate Hall had a previous, similar attack on another inmate with the same use of a state plastic cup as a weapon.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Amaya, Hicks and Sanchez ignored the substantial risk of harm posed to Plaintiff even with personal knowledge of Plaintiff's history of in-cell and out-of-cell assaults by cellmates. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Hicks was in charge of inmate housing assignments and that Inmate Hall was intentionally placed in Plaintiff's cell.

         Plaintiff filed several grievances/appeals and inmate request for interview forms in which he continued to complain or request single cell status due to his fears of being set up for assaults.

         Defendants Severens, Sanchez and Hicks allegedly had previous knowledge of the substantial risk of serious harm posed to Plaintiff through their access to his central files. Plaintiff claims that they ignored departmental policies, procedure and requirements.

         Defendant Sanchez reportedly stated her awareness of such a threat posed to Plaintiff in Plaintiff's UCC Hearing and his CDCR 128(b) form dated November 2, 2017. Even with such knowledge, Defendant Sanchez reportedly ignored the risk factors and failed to intervene to safeguard Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff contends that the due to the failure of all defendants to comply with the Departmental Operations Manual, he was viciously assaulted on November 9, 2017, and suffered severe injuries to the right side of his face, eye, lips and nose area from being struck with a state cup from behind by Inmate Hall.

         On November 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed his first appeal/grievance complaining of the failure of Defendant Sanchez to honor his request for single cell placement. Plaintiff reports that he was brought before Defendant Sanchez in an effort to threaten, intimidate and force Plaintiff to withdraw the grievance. On December 19, 2017, Plaintiff stated in his withdrawal that he would better address the issues in another appeal regarding the assault.

         Allegations re Failure to Protect

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 19, 2016, Kathleen Allison, CDCR Director, and Scott Kernan, CDCR Secretary, sent a memorandum to all CDCR Wardens and Associate Directors addressing inmate housing assignment considerations during the screening and housing process. The memorandum reiterated and clarified the obligation of Defendants Hicks, Alcantar, McIntyre, Baylon, Sanchez, Severens and Amaya to consider the vulnerabilities of inmates with mental and medical health conditions or severe developmental disabilities when determining whether to grant single cell status under the Departmental Operations Manual.

         Plaintiff contends that he had demonstrated on several occasions through departmental evidence that he fit each set of criteria in the January 19, 2016 memorandum. Plaintiff claims that each of these factors was intentionally ignored by defendants due to their feelings about his commitment offense and his continued civil actions and staff complaints. Plaintiff further claims that they ignored the length of his sentence, his enemies and victimization history, his vulnerability due to medical or mental health and disabilities, history of in-cell assaults and/or violence, nature of commitment offense, history of “S” suffix determination, and security threat group affiliation and/or associate thereof. Plaintiff asserts that due to defendants' failure to comply or implement an assessment of these criteria, he was assaulted with a state plastic cup from behind by Inmate Hall on November 9, 2017. At the time of the attack, Plaintiff was in the medication line. Plaintiff asserts that the attack was unprovoked and that he had never met or had any words with Inmate Hall prior to that time.

         Allegations re Use of Inmate Hall as an Instrument of Assault

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 9, 2017, at approximately 8:00 p.m., he was assaulted by his cellmate, Inmate T. Hall. Inmate Hall came behind Plaintiff during medication call and struck him with a state plastic cup several times to his face, causing severe injuries to his right eye, nose and lips, which later required x-rays. Plaintiff claims that the attack was unprovoked because Inmate Hall was just placed in his cell by Defendants Hicks, Sanchez, Alcantar, McIntyre and Amaya, who had prior knowledge of Inmate Hall's comments similar assaults and STG affiliation to the SNY 2-5ers. Plaintiff claims that these defendants knew that Inmate Hall posed a substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff due to his enemies on the yard and that he was looking for a way off the yard.

         Plaintiff believes that Inmate Hall was placed in the cell of Inmate Massey after the purported assault and batter on Plaintiff. Due to Inmate Massey's complaints filed against unit staff in unit one, Inmate Hall assaulted Inmate Massey, who later paroled, with a state cup, causing severe injuries to his eye on November 17, 2017.

         Plaintiff claims that on November 9, 2017, Defendants Alcantar and McIntyre were in position between the medication carts. Plaintiff asserts that both had a bird's eye view of the incident from beginning to end.

         On December 19, 2017, Plaintiff requested that each officer state if he or she witnessed Inmate Hall strike him the face several times. Defendants Alacantar and McIntyre offered the use of a cup without being asked if such weapon was ever used. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Alcantar, McIntyre, Hicks and Amaya conspired with each other in using Inmate Hall as their instrument to carry out the assault of Plaintiff on November 9, 2017, by intentionally placing Inmate Hall in Plaintiff's cell in retaliation for his participation in civil acts and staff complaints against CDCR officials. Plaintiff further alleges that each defendant had access to the department's computer in which to evaluate housing criteria and Defendant Amaya and Hicks were assigned to housing inmates.

         Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         On January 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed his second grievance/appeal addressing the November 9, 2017 failure to protect against the assault by Inmate Hall. Plaintiff claims that defendants and their agents delayed and obstructed the process, making administrative remedies unavailable. Plaintiff also claims that defendants retaliated against him in his efforts to resolve the matter through proper investigation or evidentiary corroboration of his requested witnesses during his disciplinary hearing on the charge of fighting.

         On March 5, 2018, Plaintiff received his grievance back, but it was not in its original form. Plaintiff avers that defendants attempted to manipulate the appeals process until Plaintiff refiled his complaint on March 7, 2018, as instructed by Inmate Appeals Coordinator T. Galaviz.

         On December 28, 2017, Plaintiff submitted his CDCR Inmate Request for Interview Form to Defendants Sanchez and Severens regarding their failure to honor his single cell request and to document ...

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