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Nichols v. Plumas Cnty. Corr. Facility

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Jul 10, 2015
No. 2:15-cv-1299 MCE CKD P (E.D. Cal. Jul. 10, 2015)

Opinion

No. 2:15-cv-1299 MCE CKD P

07-10-2015

GERALD EDMUND NICHOLS, Plaintiff, v. PLUMAS COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendant.


ORDER

Plaintiff is a county jail inmate proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

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

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

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). 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.

Here, plaintiff alleges that he is allowed only six cubic feet of personal property, which must be stored on the concrete floor of his cell. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) He requests "property boxes and or storage" as relief. (Id.) In a supplement to the complaint, plaintiff further asserts that jail inmates have not had cable television in over a year, are only allowed two days of exercise per week, and lack access to weights and a basketball hoop, among other alleged deprivations. (ECF No. 6 at 2.)

There are several problems with this complaint. First, insofar as plaintiff's claim is based on state administrative regulations concerning inmates' personal property, it is not actionable under § 1983. Cornejo v. County of San Diego, 504 F.3d 853, 855 n. 3 (9th Cir. 2007) ("[A] claim for violation of state law is not cognizable under § 1983.")

Second, none of plaintiff's allegations meet the threshold of an Eighth Amendment challenge, which requires a prisoner to show, among other things, that a prison official's act or omission results "in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).

Third, plaintiff names the Plumas County Correctional Facility as the sole defendant. "Municipalities and other local government units ... [are] among those persons to whom § 1983 applies." Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). However, a municipal entity or its departments is liable under § 1983 only if plaintiff shows that his constitutional injury was caused by employees acting pursuant to the municipality's policy or custom. See Villegas v. Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, 541 F.3d 950, 964 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-94). Plaintiff has not alleged that any employee of the Plumas county jail acted pursuant to a policy or custom that violates his federal constitutional rights.

For these reasons, plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. However, he will be granted one opportunity to amend. In an amended complaint plaintiff should not raise many unrelated claims, but rather focus on a few specific claims and describe the actions of the individual defendants.

If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the conditions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). Also, the complaint must allege in specific terms how each named defendant is involved. There can be no liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless there is some affirmative link or connection between a defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Furthermore, vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

In addition, plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff's amended complaint complete. Local Rule 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.

In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted.

2. Plaintiff is obligated to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. All fees shall be collected and paid in accordance with this court's order to the Sheriff of Plumas County filed concurrently herewith.

3. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed; and

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 this case and must be labeled "Amended Complaint"; plaintiff must file an original and two copies of the amended complaint; failure to file an amended complaint in accordance with this order will result in dismissal of this action. Dated: July 10, 2015

/s/_________

CAROLYN K. DELANEY

UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
2 / nich1299.14new


Summaries of

Nichols v. Plumas Cnty. Corr. Facility

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Jul 10, 2015
No. 2:15-cv-1299 MCE CKD P (E.D. Cal. Jul. 10, 2015)
Case details for

Nichols v. Plumas Cnty. Corr. Facility

Case Details

Full title:GERALD EDMUND NICHOLS, Plaintiff, v. PLUMAS COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY…

Court:UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Date published: Jul 10, 2015

Citations

No. 2:15-cv-1299 MCE CKD P (E.D. Cal. Jul. 10, 2015)