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Smith v. Mendoza

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 16, 2019

JASON SMITH, Plaintiff,
J. MENDOZA, et al., Defendants.


          BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner at the Correctional Training Facility (“CTF”) in Soledad, filed the instant pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against CTF personnel. After an initial screening, the Court found the complaint stated cognizable claims, and ordered the matter served on Defendants. (Docket No. 3.)

         Plaintiff has filed an application for clarification regarding Defendant J. Ibarra, whose name was not listed as a defendant in the Order of Service. (Docket No. 5.) It appears that Defendant Ibarra's name was inadvertently omitted. (Docket No. 3at 3.) Accordingly, the Court orders the Clerk of the Court to serve this matter on Defendant J. Ibarra.


         A. Standard of Review

         A 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, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         To 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).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff claims Defendants I. Perez conducted a retaliatory cell search on September 24, 2018, for Plaintiff threatening to report him for violating prison policy by watching television for personal use. (Docket No. 1 at 10-11.) Plaintiff claims numerous legal documents were stolen. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that on November 15, 2018, Defendant J. Mendoza had him moved to a cell with broken windows (14 of the 20 windows are missing) in retaliation for Plaintiff filing a grievance against him for mishandling inmates' mail. (Id. at 12-13.) Plaintiff claims that Defendant Mendoza stated to him: “you complain to[o] much about the program and that he (J. Mendoza) knew about Plaintiff's CDCR-602 filed against his partner I. Perez about watching television.” (Id. at 12.) Plaintiff claims Defendants Perez and Mendoza's actions had a chilling effect on his First Amendment rights. (Id. at 11, 13.) Plaintiff claims that he made several requests to have the windows fixed to Defendants R. Glaze, M. Zavala, B. Aguirre, and J. Ibarra over the course of the next several months as he suffered cold and wet weather conditions, but they all refused to act. (Id. at 31-18.) Plaintiff claims Defendant W. Sinkovich, the appeals examiner, “received and was given notice of Plaintiff's unconstitutional housing, but he refused to have staff… personally inspect Plaintiff's cell to ascertain the validity of the allegation.” (Id. at 19.) Plaintiff claims that all similarly situated prisoners were afforded a physical inspection of their cells by reviewing staff when allegations of missing windows were complaint of, and therefore, Defendant Sinkovich's discriminatory treatment violated the Equal Protection Clause. (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants' actions amounted to retaliation under the First Amendment for their adverse actions against him for exercising his protected rights, cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment for subjecting him to inhumane conditions, and discriminatory treatment under the Equal Protection Clause. (Id. at 20-22.) Liberally construed, Plaintiff's allegations are sufficient to state such cognizable claims. See Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559 (9th Cir. 2005) (First Amendment retaliation claim); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994) (Eighth Amendment claim for inhumane conditions); Maynard v. City of San Jose, 37 F.3d 1396 (9th Cir. 1994) (Equal Protection claim).


         For the reasons state above, the Court orders as follows:

         1. The Clerk of the Court shall mail a Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons, two copies of the Waiver of Service of Summons, a copy of the complaint, all attachments thereto, and a copy of this order upon Defendant J. Ibarra at the Correctional Training Facility (P.O. Box 686, Soledad, CA 93960-0686). The Clerk shall also mail a copy of this Order to Plaintiff.

         2. Defendants are cautioned that Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires them to cooperate in saving unnecessary costs of service of the summons and the amended complaint. Pursuant to Rule 4, if Defendants, after being notified of this action and asked by the Court, on behalf of Plaintiff, to waive service of the summons, fail to do so, they will be required to bear the cost of such service unless good cause shown for their failure to sign and return the waiver form. If service is waived, this action will proceed as if Defendants had been served on the date that the waiver is filed, except that pursuant to Rule 12(a)(1)(B), Defendants will not be required to serve and file an answer before sixty (60) days from the day on which the request for waiver was sent. (This allows a longer time to respond than would be required if formal service of summons is necessary.) Defendants are asked to read the statement set forth at the foot of the waiver form that more completely describes the duties of the parties with regard to waiver of service of the summons. If ...

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