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Hymes v. Sacramento County

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 30, 2019

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, et al., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, who was previously detained in the Sacramento County Jail, proceeds with counsel in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff paid the filing fee. This order screens plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and directs plaintiff to timely serve process on the appropriate defendants.

         II. Screening of Plaintiff's Complaint

         A. Legal Standards for Screening Prisoner Civil Rights Complaints

         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). A claim 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).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Pleadings shall be so construed as to do justice.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly at 555). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal at 678 (quoting Twombly 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (citing Twombly at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of “entitlement to relief.”'” Id. (quoting Twombly at 557).

         B. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that, on August 17, 2018, he was injured while being transported from the Sacramento County Family Court back to the Sacramento County Jail. Plaintiff states that he was shackled in handcuffs and leg restraints and placed in a seat in the back of the transport vehicle without being secured in a seat belt. He alleges that defendant Stephen Michael Buccellato, a Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy, “drove the transport vehicle at unsafe speeds and in a reckless manner, which led him to slamming on the brakes in an abrupt and reckless manner . . . [and] rear-ended another vehicle. ECF No. 1 at 3. “As a result of the force of impact from the collision, the Plaintiff, who was not restrained in a seat belt and could not break his fall with his restrained hands, was thrown with great force approximately five feet inside of the transport vehicle, causing him to suffer severe injuries to his back.” Id.

         Plaintiff names as defendants Deputy Buccellato in his individual capacity, Sacramento County, and Does 1-25. Plaintiff states that he “filed a timely government claim against Defendants pursuant to California Government Code § 910 et seq. [which] was subsequently rejected by Sacramento County on March 5, 2019.” ECF No. 1 at 3 ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff asserts a federal due process claim against “all defendants;” a state law negligence claim against “all defendants and Does 1-25;” and a state law vicarious liability claim against Sacramento County.[1] Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief (with the goal of preventing similar injuries to other Sacramento County detainees), as well as compensatory, general and punitive damages.

         C. Analysis

         1. Doe Defendants

         The complaint makes no charging allegations against “Defendant Does 1-25, ” noting only that their capacities are unknown “but upon ascertaining these individuals' identities, the Plaintiff will seek leave to amend to name ...

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