United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court
is defendants' unopposed motion to dismiss (ECF No. 15).
Miguel Martinez is currently a prisoner at High Desert State
Prison (HDSP) in Susanville, California. See ECF No.
1, pg. 1. Plaintiff names the following as defendants: (1) C.
Rios; (2) R. Cisneros; and (3) Lt. Davidge. Id.
Plaintiff claims that these defendants conspired to have him
erroneously classified as a member of the street gang known
as “Salinas East Market St.” Id. at 3-4.
Plaintiff contends that this misconduct resulted in
violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
of 2016, Corrections Officer C. Rios initiated an
investigation into plaintiff's suspected affiliation with
the Salinas East Market St. gang. Id. at 5. Rios
conducted an interview with plaintiff and observed a red
“M” on plaintiff's chest which Rios noted as
representing “Market St.” in Salinas.
Id. at 7. Rios also asked plaintiff how long he had
been a member of Salinas East Market St. and plaintiff
allegedly responded “since I was fourteen years
old.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). Also,
Rios observed a Mayan tattoo for the number four, a common
identifier for members of Norteno street gangs, including
Salinas East Market St. Id. Lastly, on May 16, 2016,
Rios conducted a cell search and found a drawing in
plaintiff's personal property with the initials
“S-E-M.” Id. at 8. These initials are a
common identifier for the Salinas East Market St. gang.
Id. On May 20, 2016, Rios allegedly provided all of
these documents and disclosures to plaintiff and received no
opposition from him. See ECF No. 1, pg. 5. From this
investigation, Rios deemed there was enough evidence to
identify plaintiff as a member of the Salinas East Market St.
gang. Id. The information from Rios'
investigation, along with an alleged self-admission of
gang-membership made by plaintiff in 2015, was compiled into
a validation packet by Lieutenant Davidge and sent to a
prison official named Spralue for evaluation. Id. at
9. On February 2, 2017, plaintiff was validated as a member
of the Salinas East Market St. gang. Id.
appealed the gang validation on April 19, 2017. Id.
at 10. In his appeal, plaintiff asserted that that his
validation was fraudulent and denied ever making
self-admissions in either 2015 or 2016. Id. Also,
plaintiff alleges that Rios misrepresented facts.
Id. at 12. Plaintiff argued that Rios never
mentioned that the “M” was a documented symbol of
the Salinas East Market St. gang. Id. Instead,
plaintiff claimed the “M” represented the
Minnesota Twins baseball team. Id. Plaintiff also
claimed that the letter “M” alone can't be
enough for gang determination. Id.
alleges that on May 31, 2016, he tried to discuss his appeal
to the gang validation with Corrections Officer Cisneros and
another officer, but they denied him the opportunity.
Id. at 12. On June 4, 2016, plaintiff made a second
attempt to discuss his appeal with Rios and another officer,
but they again denied him the opportunity. Id. On
May 19, 2017, plaintiff's appeal was denied. See
ECF No. 1, pg. 11.
6, 2017, plaintiff submitted another appeal regarding his
gang validation. Id. at 11, 13. Plaintiff argued
that his alleged “self-admission” was manipulated
and that he simply told the interviewers that he “grew
up” on the East Side of Salinas, around Market St., not
that he was gang affiliated. Id. at 11. Plaintiff
also claimed that contentions by interviewers, such as that
he was provided the opportunity to be heard, were
“lies.” Id. at 13 Plaintiff contended in
his appeal that they did not hear him out and took the
position that his case had “no merit.”
Id. On August 31, 2017, this appeal was also denied.
See id. at 11.
conjunction with these factual allegations, plaintiff alleges
Rios: (1) violated numerous prison policies; (2) initiated
the gang validation investigation for retaliatory purposes;
and (3) fabricated the documents of
“self-admission.” See id. at 3.
Plaintiff further alleges that Cisneros: (1) conspired with
Rios to undermine plaintiff's investigation and defense
against his gang validation; (2) was assigned as
plaintiff's “investigative employee, ” which
presented a conflict of interest since Cisneros was also
involved in the gang validation; and (3) conspired with Rios
to retaliate against plaintiff and “screw him
over” for making Cisneros' cousin, a prison
employee, “do paperwork.” Id. Finally,
plaintiff alleges that Lt. Davidge: (1) submitted validation
documents that were fabricated; and (2) failed to
independently confirm the reliability of said documents.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all
allegations of material fact in the complaint as true.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007).
The court must also construe the alleged facts in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also Hosp.
Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740
(1976); 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). However, legally
conclusory statements, not supported by actual factual
allegations, need not be accepted. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009). In addition, pro
se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972).
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) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to
survive dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6), 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.” Id. at 555-56. The complaint must
contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Id. 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.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
“The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that
are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability, it ‘stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility for entitlement to
relief.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 557).
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court generally may not
consider materials outside the complaint and pleadings.
See Cooper v. Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 622 (9th Cir.
1998); Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 453 (9th Cir.
1994). The court may, however, consider: (1) documents whose
contents are alleged in or attached to the complaint and
whose authenticity no party questions, see Branch,
14 F.3d at 454; (2) documents whose authenticity is not in
question, and upon which the complaint necessarily relies,
but which are not attached to the complaint, see Lee v.
City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001);
and (3) documents and materials of which the court may take
judicial notice, see Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370,
1377 (9th Cir. 1994).
leave to amend must be granted “[u]nless it is
absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the
defects.” Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d
245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); see also ...