United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
in this federal civil rights action filed pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. This proceeding was referred to this
court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous
or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221,
1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The
critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however
inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis.
See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir.
1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a
complaint must contain more than “naked assertions,
” “labels and conclusions” or “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief
has facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. 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, 556 U.S. at 678.
When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon
which relief can be granted, the court must accept the
allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93-94 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
Allegations in the Complaint
October 29, 2018, while an inmate at Deuel Vocational
Institution (“DVI”) in Tracy, California,
plaintiff was housed in the top tier despite his
“serious injur[ies].” ECF No. 1 at 3. He
complained to Correctional Officer Juan, who is a named
defendant in this action, that he was ”having
difficulty going up and downstairs and would have problems
living on the top teir [sic].”
Id. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Juan had
the authority to move plaintiff to the bottom tier and that
there was an open cell. Id. However,
“[p]laintiff fell down the stairs as a result of not
being provided a lower teir [sic] cell” causing him to
be re-injured. Id. By way of relief, plaintiff
requests compensatory and punitive damages. ECF No. 1 at 5.
last sentence of his only claim for relief, plaintiff states
in a conclusory fashion that defendant “Juan violated
plaintiff's first amendment rights to be free of
retaliation for filing grievances.” ECF No. 1 at 3.
Plaintiff provides no additional facts or details supporting
this independent claim for relief.
the Eighth Amendment, prison officials must provide for
inmates' basic human needs while in custody, including
“food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and reasonable
safety.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 32
(1993). Moreover, officials can violate the Eighth Amendment
by showing deliberate indifference to an inmate's
unreasonable risk of future medical harm. Id. at 35.
To violate the “cruel and unusual punishments”
clause, the alleged deprivation must be objectively,
sufficiently serious. Second, there is a subjective
requirement that the official display a sufficiently culpable
state of mind. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994) (citations omitted).
officials generally cannot retaliate against inmates for
exercising First Amendment rights. Rizzo v. Dawson,
778 F.2d 527, 531 (9th Cir. 1985). If plaintiff is alleging
retaliation, he must establish that: (1) defendant took some
adverse action against him (2) because of (3) that
prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4)
chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment
rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a
legitimate correctional goal. Brodheim v. Cry, 584
F.3d 1262, 1269 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Rhodes v.
Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005)). Because
a prisoner's First Amendment rights are necessarily
curtailed, however, a successful retaliation claim requires a
finding that “the prison authorities' retaliatory
action did not advance legitimate goals of the correctional
institution or was not tailored narrowly enough to achieve
such goals.” Rizzo, 778 F.2d at 532. The
plaintiff bears the burden of pleading and proving the
absence of legitimate correctional goals for the conduct of
which he complains. Pratt v. Rowland, 65 F.3d 802,
806 (9th Cir. 1995).
order to state a claim cognizable in a civil rights action, a
plaintiff must connect the named defendants clearly with the
claimed denial of his rights. Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 837, 843 (1994) (official's liability for
deliberate indifference to assault requires that official
know of and disregard an “excessive risk”);
Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989)
(“liability under section 1983 arises only upon a
showing of personal participation by the defendant (citation
omitted) . . . [t]here is no respondeat superior liability
under section 1983.”); Johnson v. Duffy, 588
F.3d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978) (discussing “requisite
causal connection” in section 1983 cases between named
defendant and claimed injury). Additionally, “[a]
plaintiff must allege facts, not simply conclusions, that
show that an individual was personally involved in the
deprivation of his civil rights.” Barren v.
Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194-95 (9th Cir. 1998),
cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1154 (1999).