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Beaton v. State

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 28, 2019

STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff, Paul Nivard Beaton, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court for screening is Plaintiff's Complaint, filed on July 12, 2019. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have placed false and inaccurate information in his prison medical records. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's motion on emergency grounds, filed on July 26, 2019 (ECF No. 8), which the Court construes as a motion to supplement the complaint. The Court recommends that the Complaint (ECF No. 1) and this action be dismissed for failure to exhaust and failure to state a cognizable claim. The Court denies the motion to supplement the Complaint (ECF No. 8).


         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). As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis (ECF No. 6), the Court may also screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or appeal fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         II. SECTION 1983

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         “[Section] 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law, and (2) the defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); see also Marsh v. Cnty. of San Diego, 680 F.3d 1148, 1158 (9th Cir. 2012) (discussing “under color of state law”). A person deprives another of a constitutional right, “within the meaning of § 1983, ‘if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'” Preschooler II v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Bd. of Trs., 479 F.3d 1175, 1183 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)).


         A. Summary of the Complaint

         The Complaint names as defendants the State of California, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), and Valley State Prison (“VSP”). (ECF No. 1) Plaintiff alleges that his medical records state, under “criminal history, ” the following: “murder, ” “brain trauma, ” and “4th grade education level.” (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that this information is false, defamatory, slanderous, and libelous. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that these “false slanders subject me to a differential” medical treatment in prison and that because of this allegedly false information in his medical records, once he is released from prison and seeks medical treatment, the “outside” doctors “will treat me wrong.” (Id. at 5, 6.) For relief, Plaintiff seeks a court order requiring CDCR to “stop it, erase[] it, because it's wrong, ” and that all references to “murder, brain trauma, 4th grade, ” “must be erased from all CDCR medical records.” (Id. at 7.)

         B. The Complaint Fails to State a Cognizable § 1983 Claim

         In general, prison inmates do not have a protected liberty interest in freedom from alleged classification errors where such errors do not cause the inmates to be subjected to “atypical and significant hardship . . . in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). The same principle applies to claimed due process violations arising from allegedly false information in prison documents, such as medical records. See Hines v. Gomez, 108 F.3d 265, 268-69 (9th Cir. 1997);[1] Freeman v. Rideout, 808 F.2d 949, 951 (2d Cir. 1986) (Prisoners have “no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongly accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest, ” so long as they are “not . . . deprived of a protected liberty interest without due process of law.”).

         Here, Plaintiff is alleging that his medical records contain false information regarding his criminal history and mental health status. The mere presence of this allegedly false information in Plaintiff's medical records does not, without more, violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights. See ibid. Thus, the Complaint fails to state a cognizable claim under ยง 1983. The Complaint is therefore subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be ...

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