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Carrasco v. Cababe

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 20, 2019

RICHARD CARRASCO, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNNY CABABE, et al., Defendants.

         SCREENING ORDER ORDER THAT PLAINTIFF: (1) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE WILL PROCEED ONLY ON THE CLAIMS SANCTIONED BY THIS ORDER AND VOLUNTARILY DISMISS ALL OTHER CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS; (2) FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; OR (3) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT HE WISHES TO STAND BY HIS COMPLAINT, SUBJECT TO DISMISSAL OF CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS CONSISTENT WITH THIS ORDER ECF NO. 1 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PRODUCE SUMMONS ECF NO. 10

         Plaintiff Richard Carrasco is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint, ECF No. 1, is before the court for screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff alleges that he was physically assaulted by prison officials, that his medical needs were ignored, and that officials retaliated against him for attempting to submit grievances. He lists seventeen prison officials, including four unnamed “Does, ” as defendants. ECF No. 1 at 3. I find that plaintiff has stated an Eighth Amendment excessive-force claim against defendants Johnny Cababe, Robert Ruvalcaba, Robert Ruiz, and Brian Morse, as well as a First Amendment retaliation claim against defendant Doe number four, but no other claims. Plaintiff must choose between (1) proceeding only on the claims found cognizable by the court and voluntarily dismissing all other claims and defendants, (2) amending the complaint to add facts in an attempt to make out additional claims or claims against additional defendants, or (3) standing by the current complaint subject to dismissal of claims and defendants consistent with this order.

         SCREENING AND PLEADING REQUIREMENTS

         A federal court must screen a prisoner's complaint that seeks relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         A complaint must contain a short and plain statement that plaintiff is entitled to relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plausibility standard does not require detailed allegations, but legal conclusions do not suffice. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the allegations “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” the complaint states no claim. Id. at 679. The complaint need not identify “a precise legal theory.” Kobold v. Good Samaritan Reg'l Med. Ctr., 832 F.3d 1024, 1038 (9th Cir. 2016). Instead, what plaintiff must state is a “claim”-a set of “allegations that give rise to an enforceable right to relief.” Nagrampa v. MailCoups, Inc., 469 F.3d 1257, 1264 n.2 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (citations omitted).

         The court must construe a pro se litigant's complaint liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). The court may dismiss a pro se litigant's complaint “if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Hayes v. Idaho Corr. Ctr., 849 F.3d 1204, 1208 (9th Cir. 2017). However, “‘a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.'” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         DISCUSSION

         Threshold Requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Section 1983 allows a private citizen to sue for the deprivation of a right secured by federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill., 137 S.Ct. 911, 916 (2017). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must show that a defendant acting under color of state law caused an alleged deprivation of a right secured by federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Soo Park v. Thompson, 851 F.3d 910, 921 (9th Cir. 2017). The plaintiff can satisfy the causation requirement by showing either (1) the defendant's “personal involvement” in the alleged deprivation or (2) a “sufficient causal connection” between the defendant's conduct as a supervisor and the alleged deprivation. See King v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 885 F.3d 548, 559 (9th Cir. 2018).

         The defendants here are all state-prison employees who, accepting plaintiff's allegations as true, can be inferred to have acted under color of state law. See Paeste v. Gov't of Guam, 798 F.3d 1228, 1238 (9th Cir. 2015) (“[G]enerally, a public employee acts under color of state law while acting in his official capacity or while exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” (quoting West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 50 (1988))). However, plaintiff has failed to satisfy the causation requirement with respect to seven defendants: Mack, Hart, Warden Doe, Vasquez, Litt, Doe number two, and Doe number three. While these defendants are mentioned in passing throughout the complaint, plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts that link any of them to an alleged deprivation. See also Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[W]hen a supervisor is found liable . . . the supervisor is being held liable for his or her own culpable action or inaction, not held vicariously liable for the culpable action or inaction of his or her subordinates.”).

         The remaining question is whether the alleged actions of the other ten defendants violated federal law.

         Excessive Force and the Eighth Amendment

         Plaintiff alleges that four defendants-Cababe, Ruvalcava, Morse, and Ruiz-severely beat him without justification while he was restrained. ECF No. 1 at 8. Plaintiff alleges that the beating caused permanent eye damage and other serious medical issues. Id. at 12. These allegations are sufficient to state an excessive-force Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Cababe, Ruvalcava, Morse, and Ruiz. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992).

         Medical ...


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