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Samaniego v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR")

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 15, 2020




         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding through counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and paid the court's filing fee. This proceeding was referred to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302.

         As set forth below, the undersigned finds that defendants CDCR and California State Prison, Sacramento (“CSP-SAC”) must be dismissed. Plaintiff states potentially cognizable Eighth Amendment claims against the remaining defendants; thus, the Clerk of the Court is directed to issue summons. I. Legal Standards The 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is 27 years old, currently housed at the San Fernando Acute Care Hospital in Sylmar, California. At this facility, plaintiff will serve the remainder of his medical parole term, granted based on the serious and debilitating injuries plaintiff sustained during the November 1, 2018 attack which rendered him a complete quadriplegic. Plaintiff names as defendants the CDCR, California State Prison, Sacramento (“CSP-SAC”), CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz, Acting Warden Jeff Lynch, individually and in their official capacities, and Does 1 - 10. Plaintiff alleges the following:

         Plaintiff was a second term offender, returning to CDCR custody in December 2014. He requested designation as a special needs yard (“SNY”) inmate due to his election to drop-out of his street gang. Subsequently, plaintiff was housed on SNY prison yards at three different prisons where he received prison disciplinaries for being involved in fighting and physical altercations against gang and security threat group members and associates.

         Around May of 2018, defendants implemented a policy of integrating prison yards with SNY inmates and general population inmates, known as “Non-designated Programming Yards, ” “despite such integration placing known members and or associates of street gangs, prison gangs and [security threat groups] on the same yard, and housed in the same facility with prisoners --like [plaintiff]--who were previously designated SNY . . . or who had related security concerns which would otherwise prevent or militate against integrated housing.” (ECF No. 1 at 9-10.) On September 26, 2018, plaintiff was transferred to CSP-SAC. On September 28, 2018, plaintiff appeared before a classification committee for consideration of his placement on CSP-SAC's “Non-designated Programming Prison Yard.” Following defendants' failure to adequately or sufficiently consider safety concerns in plaintiff's records, including, but not limited to plaintiff's SNY status, his facial tattoos indicating his former gang affiliation, his current conviction for a crime against a child, and his designation as CCCMS and then EOP as of August 2018, plaintiff was wrongfully and intentionally transferred to a “Non-designated Programming Prison Yard.”

         On November 1, 2018, plaintiff entered the integrated yard where he was attacked by five inmates, two of whom were armed with inmate manufactured weapons. Plaintiff avers that the inmate assailants have ties to street gangs, prison gangs, or security threat groups or were enemies of plaintiff, such that their threat to plaintiff's safety was known or easily knowable to defendants before the attack, and it is likely the classification committee also failed to adequately or sufficiently consider the safety concerns for such inmate assailants as well. The inmate assailants also yelled “Fuck the PCs, ” which references plaintiff's former gang affiliation because “PC” refers to inmates housed in “Protective Custody, ” and is synonymous with SNY inmates.

         Correctional officers identified as Does 1-10 did not intervene or take sufficient action to stop the attack on plaintiff. Plaintiff was stabbed in the bladder and ear, and when he attempted to run away, he was pushed to the ground and beaten, stabbed in the face, and came in and out of consciousness during and after the attack. Following the release of one tear gas grenade from about fifteen feet away, the assailants continued to attack plaintiff, then moved away to stab another unidentified inmate on the yard.

         After the attack on plaintiff ended, he could not breathe and suffered a collapsed lung. Plaintiff was transported by cot to the prison infirmary. Plaintiff avers that he was not given a neck brace or medically secured to the cot before transport, and his vitals were not taken at the infirmary. About fifteen minutes later, an ambulance arrived, and plaintiff was given a neck brace by ambulance staff. An IV was administered to plaintiff during transport to UC Davis Medical Center, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. Plaintiff had been stabbed in the spine, his neck was broken at vertebra 3, and he was stabbed at vertebrae 11 and 12, and is now a complete quadriplegic. Plaintiff was later transferred to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, California, where he remained for four weeks. Plaintiff was granted medical parole on May 7, 2019.

         Plaintiff alleges defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to protect him and failing to intervene to protect him from physical harm, as well as by maintaining, enforcing, ratifying, and acquiescing in unsafe policies, practices and customs as expressly set forth in the pleading (ECF No. 1 at 16-17).

         Plaintiff seeks money damages, as well as reasonable attorney fees.

         III. Eleventh Amendment

         Plaintiff names the CDCR and CSP-SAC as defendants. The Eleventh Amendment serves as a jurisdictional bar to suits brought by private parties against a state or state agency unless the state or the agency consents to such suit. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781 (1978)(per curiam); Jackson v. Hayakawa, 682 F.2d 1344, 1349-50 (9th Cir. 1982). In the instant case, the State of California has not consented ...

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