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Baptiste v. Hatton

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 6, 2019

J. HATTON, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff, an inmate at California Training Facility - Central (“CTF”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         A. Standard of Review

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or from an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Complaint

         Plaintiff names as defendants the following CTF prison officials: Warden Hatton, Correctional Counselor II Martinez, Sr. Psychologist Wynn, Chief of Mental Health Howlin, staff psychologist DeAntoni, cook G. Tow, cook Hernandez, cook Adams, senior hearing officer Lt. J. Marquez, and appeals coordinator J. Truett.

         Liberally construed, the complaint makes the following allegations. The CDCR classification committee refused to re-instate plaintiff's single-cell status in violation of his procedural due process rights. CTF's Mental Health Department violated his due process rights when they failed to recommend to custody staff that double-celling was inappropriate for plaintiff and contrary to the Coleman Remedial Plan. There was an unspecified failure to meet work and program expectations which resulted in a violation of administrative rules, a violation of Cal. Health & Safety Codes, a violation of 15 CCR 3035(g), (h), and either led to plaintiff being diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C or was problematic in part because plaintiff has chronic Hepatitis C. Despite being on psychotropic medications, plaintiff was forced to chop 600-1200 lbs of onions daily. This made Plaintiff sick and nauseated; failed to meet work-program expectations; violated plaintiff's due process rights; and violated Cal. Health & Safety Codes and 15 CCR 3035(g), (h). Per protocol, plaintiff should never have been assigned to culinary in the first place and he has an infectious disease which means he is not medically cleared to handle food.

         The complaint will be dismissed with leave to amend for the following reasons.

         First, Section 1983 requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir.2002). The Ninth Circuit has held that “[a] person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, plaintiff must link each named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of plaintiff's federal rights. This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint makes general allegations and does not link any individual defendant to the alleged violations. Accordingly, the complaint fails to state a cognizable Section 1983 claim against any of the named defendants. However, the Court will grant plaintiff leave to amend so that he can correct this deficiency.

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff should specifically identify what each named defendant did or did not do with regard to each separate claim. Sweeping conclusory allegations will not suffice. Plaintiff should not refer to the defendants as a group (e.g., “the defendants”); rather, he should identify each involved defendant by name and link each of them to his claims by explaining what each involved defendant did or failed to do that caused a violation of his rights. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient to state a claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. ...

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