(PC) Williams v. State of California

2:07-cv-00554 | E.D. Cal. | Mar 7, 2008

Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 1 of 6

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA DONALD RAY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, No. CIV S-07-0554 FCD DAD P vs. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants. ORDER / Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge in accordance with Local Rule 72-302 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

Plaintiff has submitted an in forma pauperis application that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a) & 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has been without funds for six months and is currently without funds. Accordingly, the court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of

Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 2 of 6 the preceding month’s income credited to plaintiff’s prison trust account. These payments shall be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff’s account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 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" date_filed="1989-05-01" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Neitzke v. Williams">490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221" date_filed="1984-10-23" court="9th Cir." case_name="Harry Franklin v. Ms. Murphy and Hoyt Cupp">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. 319" date_filed="1989-05-01" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Neitzke v. Williams">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" date_filed="1989-09-18" court="9th Cir." case_name="Joseph Jackson, II v. State of Arizona (Unknown) Terry, Deputy Acting Warden (Unknown) Avenenti, Deputy Warden">885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d 1221" date_filed="1984-10-23" court="9th Cir." case_name="Harry Franklin v. Ms. Murphy and Hoyt Cupp">745 F.2d at 1227.
Rule 8(a)(2) 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, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 127 S. Ct. 1955" date_filed="2007-05-21" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly">127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41" date_filed="1957-11-18" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Conley v. Gibson">355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic, 127 S. Ct. 1955" date_filed="2007-05-21" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly">127 S. Ct. at 1965. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital
Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 3 of 6 Trustees, 425 U.S. 738" date_filed="1976-05-24" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Hospital Building Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hospital">425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff’s favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411" date_filed="1969-06-09" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Jenkins v. McKeithen">395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . 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. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658" date_filed="1978-06-06" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs.">436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362" date_filed="1976-01-26" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Rizzo v. Goode">423 U.S. 362 (1976). “A person ‘subjects’ another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740" date_filed="1978-12-27" court="9th Cir." case_name="Bradley Johnson v. John Duffy">588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858" date_filed="1979-11-05" court="9th Cir." case_name="Edward Fayle v. Glenn Stapley">607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438" date_filed="1979-01-26" court="9th Cir." case_name="Delores A. Mosher v. H. C. Saalfeld and Wesley J. Robinson">589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266" date_filed="1982-03-29" court="2d Cir." case_name="Richard Ivey v. Board of Regents of The University of Alaska">673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
In the present case, plaintiff has identified as defendants the State of California and the California Department of Corrections. Plaintiff contends that his lawsuit is based on revocation of his constitutional “inalienables,” including the right to privacy and safety. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that forced double-cell living as well as mail censorship and telephone privacy violations have denied him both his right to privacy and the right to defend
Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 4 of 6 himself. Plaintiff requests the return of all of his civil rights and damages for the ten years that he has been forced into double-cell living.
The allegations in plaintiff’s complaint, even when supplemented by his subsequent filings, are so vague and conclusory that the court is unable to determine whether the current action is frivolous or fails to state a claim for relief. The complaint does not contain a short and plain statement as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice to the defendants and must allege facts that support the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646" date_filed="1984-05-15" court="9th Cir." case_name="Thomas Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency of The City of Los Angeles Edward Helfeld">733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendants engaged in that support his claims. Id. Because plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), the complaint must be dismissed. The court will, however, grant leave to file an amended complaint.
If plaintiff wishes to pursue this action by filings an amended complaint, he is advised that 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" date_filed="1979-03-05" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Quern v. Jordan">440 U.S. 332, 340 (1979); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781" date_filed="1978-07-03" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Alabama v. Pugh">438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978); Jackson v. Hayakawa, 682 F.2d 1344" date_filed="1982-08-03" court="9th Cir." case_name="Charles Jackson v. Samuel Hayakawa">682 F.2d 1344, 1349-50 (9th Cir. 1982). In the instant case, neither the State of California nor the California Department of Corrections has consented to suit. Accordingly, if plaintiff raises claims against these entities in his amended complaint, the court will recommend that they be dismissed as frivolous.
In addition, plaintiff is advised that, to the extent that he claims that he is entitled to single-cell status or that his assignment to a double-cell violates his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, he fails to state a cognizable constitutional claim. Being assigned to a single-cell has not been found to be a right protected by the Due Process Clause. Generally, prison classifications do not give rise to a federal liberty interest. Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316" date_filed="1987-12-07" court="9th Cir." case_name="Frank v. Hernandez v. Denny Johnston Tom Ahearn Jim Rogers John McCain Chuck Houser Al Scamahorn Dan Snyder William Callahan Bob Benn">833 F.2d 1316, 1318 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78" date_filed="1976-11-15" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Moody v. Daggett">429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9
Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 5 of 6 (1976)). In addition, although “States may under certain circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause,” those circumstances are generally limited to freedom from restraint that “imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472" date_filed="1995-06-19" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Sandin v. Conner">515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995). Thus, it is well-established that inmates do not have a constitutional right to be incarcerated at a particular correctional facility or in a particular cell or unit within a facility. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215" date_filed="1976-06-25" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Meachum v. Fano">427 U.S. 215, 224-25 (1976); Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527" date_filed="1985-12-12" court="9th Cir." case_name="Patrick Rizzo v. J. Dawson">778 F.2d 527, 530 (9th Cir. 1985) (“An inmate’s liberty interests are sufficiently extinguished by his conviction so that the state may change his place of confinement even though the degree of confinement may be different and prison life may be more disagreeable in one institution than in another.”) Thus, allegations of a deprivation of rights caused by prison officials’ decisions regarding a prisoner’s place of confinement or housing assignments do not give rise to a federal constitutional claim under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. See Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564" date_filed="1972-06-29" court="SCOTUS" case_name="Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth">408 U.S. 564, 569 (1972).
Plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff’s amended complaint complete. Local Rule 15-220 requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. This is because, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once plaintiff files an amended complaint, the original pleading no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently alleged.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 1. Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. 2. Plaintiff is obligated to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action.
The fee shall be collected and paid in accordance with this court’s order to the Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation filed concurrently herewith.
3. Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed. Case 2:07-cv-00554-FCD-DAD Document 13 Filed 03/07/08 Page 6 of 6 4. Plaintiff is granted thirty days from the date of service of this order to file an amended complaint that complies with the requirements of the Civil Rights Act, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Practice; the amended complaint must bear the docket number assigned to this case and must be labeled “Amended Complaint”; failure to file an amended complaint in accordance with this order will result in a recommendation that this action be dismissed without prejudice.
5. The Clerk of the Court is directed to send plaintiff the court’s form for filing a civil rights action. DATED: March 6, 2008.