United States District Court, N.D. California
HENRY C. HAYES, aka HENRY M. MITCHELL, JR., Plaintiff,
RALPH DIAZ, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND DKT.
NOS. 2 AND 5
WILLIAM H. ORRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Henry C. Hayes, aka Henry M. Mitchell, Jr., alleges that
staff at Pelican Bay State Prison violated his First
Amendment right to receive and possess mail. The complaint
containing these allegations does not attach liability to any
named defendant, with one possible exception. Accordingly,
the complaint is DISMISSED with leave to file an amended
complaint on or before December 16, 2019.
Standard of Review
federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the
court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any
claims that 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 Id.
§ 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally
construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).
“complaint must 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) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
“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.” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court
“is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in
the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot
reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg
v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated,
and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
alleges that in February 2019, defendants interfered with his
First Amendment rights by refusing him a package that
exceeded the prison's weight limit. He names as
defendants Ralph Diaz, the Secretary of the CDCR; Jim
Robertson, the warden of Pelican Bay; D. Wilcox, a
correctional captain at Pelican Bay; and Z. Love, also a
Pelican Bay employee.
fails to state plausible facts that would state a claim
against any defendant. In fact, he does not reference
liability in connection with anyone other than Robertson, who
is the only defendant whose actions related to the actual
deprivation of the package are described with any
specificity. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4.) The complaint is
DISMISSED with leave to amend to cure these deficiencies.
pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “A person deprives
another ‘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 [the plaintiff complains].”
Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988)
(quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th
Cir.1978)). The inquiry into causation must be individualized
and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each
individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to
have caused a constitutional deprivation. Id. Hayes
must pay attention to those requirements.
addition, he premises Diaz's liability on his role as
supervisor. This is insufficient. It is very difficult to
plead claims against persons based on their role as
supervisors, especially where, as here, there are no facts
showing that any of these defendants had a personal
involvement in any of the allegedly unconstitutional acts.
There is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983,
see Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir.
1989), which means that a person is not automatically held
responsible simply because he or she is a supervisor of an
employee who commits a wrong. It is not enough that the
supervisor merely has a supervisory relationship over the
defendants; the plaintiff must show that the supervisor
“participated in or directed the violations, or knew of
the violations and failed to act to prevent them.”
Id. (emphasis added). Furthermore, supervisor
defendants are entitled to qualified immunity where the
allegations against them are simply “bald” or
“conclusory” because such allegations do not
“plausibly” establish the supervisors'
personal involvement in their subordinates'
constitutional wrong. Iqbal, 129 U.S. at 675-82.
There is nothing in the complaint that indicates Diaz's
personal knowledge or involvement.
also difficult to state claims against grievance reviewers.
Mere involvement in reviewing an inmate's administrative
grievance does not necessarily demonstrate awareness of an
alleged violation, or contribute to the underlying violation.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007).
“Only persons who cause or participate in the
violations are responsible.” Id. “Ruling
against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does ...