Adams v. Cal. Corr. Inst., Case No. EDCV 16-1678-AB (KK)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Writing for the CourtHONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge
Docket NumberCase No. EDCV 16-1678-AB (KK)
PartiesPAUL ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date28 June 2017

PAUL ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,

Case No. EDCV 16-1678-AB (KK)


June 28, 2017



Plaintiffs1 Paul Adams, Phillip L. Dorsey, and Ezequiel Monarrez ("Plaintiffs"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, have filed a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") alleging defendants Daren Plumlee, Carlos Martinez, Trinidad Rodriguez ("Individual Defendants"), California Correctional Institution ("CCI"), and Does 1-102 (collectively "Defendants") violated their Eighth and Fourteenth

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Amendment rights. As discussed below, the Court dismisses the TAC with leave to amend.


On July 24, 2016, Plaintiffs constructively filed3 a complaint pursuant to Section 1983 against defendants Jeffrey Beard and K. Holland, in both their individual and official capacities, CCI, and CDCR. Dkt. 1 at 3. The complaint alleged defendant CCI and CDCR exposed inmates to dangerous levels of asbestos in violation of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at 3, 5, 8.

On August 15, 2016, Plaintiffs constructively filed a Notice of Proposal of First Amended Complaint ("FAC")4 against defendants Jeffrey Beard, K. Holland, and Jerry Brown, in their individual and official capacities, CCI, and CDCR. Dkt. 18 at 3-4. The FAC alleged (1) prisoners are being exposed to airborne asbestos particles; and (2) prisoners are forced to drink and bathe in water contaminated by human feces. Id. at 1-48. On November 1, 2016, the Court dismissed the FAC with leave to amend. Dkt. 30.

On January 12, 2017, Plaintiffs constructively filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC")5 against defendants CDCR and CCI. Dkts. 36 and 36-1. Plaintiffs alleged CCI and CDCR are subjecting Plaintiffs to an environment "invested with air born asbestos particles," thereby demonstrating a deliberate indifference to inmates' health. Id. On March 15, 2017, the Court dismissed the SAC with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 37.

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On April 5, 2017, Plaintiffs constructively filed the instant TAC against defendant CCI and the Individual Defendants in their individual and official capacities6. TAC at 7-8. In the TAC, Plaintiffs raise Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims against all Defendants. Id. at 11-14.


Plaintiffs claim Defendants have exposed Plaintiffs to dangerous levels of asbestos and forced them to drink contaminated drinking water. Id. at 11. As a result of Defendants' actions, Plaintiffs allege "mental and emotional injury," and "imminent foreseeable health injuries," and "long term life threatening injury." Id. at 31.


Plaintiffs claim defendant CCI "violated Plaintiffs rights to a reasonable safe and healthy environment at CCI, on Yards I and II, by failing to prevent unreasonable exposure to asbestos" and engaging in asbestos "clean up [that] were illegal." Id. at 19, 28. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged, around April or May 2016, CCI staff members began construction in Willard Hall housing unit, which involved "knocking out an entire wall infested with asbestos material and . . . remov[ing] asbestos contaminated floor tiles, without providing warnings to the inmate occupants in the building." Id. at 18. Plaintiffs allege defendant CCI failed to "seal off the area of the construction" and instead used fans "which blew all of the Particles into the corners of the entire housing unit[,] thus, exposing [Plaintiffs] to asbestos directly." Id. at 19. Ultimately, Plaintiffs claim defendant CCI has

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failed to ensure that "asbestos removal and disposal is properly and legally performed [and] that asbestos exposure is limited by proper testing." Id. at 30.


Plaintiffs allege the water at CCI is contaminated with lead, arsenic, and human feces such that "it poses a health risk to human life." Id. at 25-27. According to Plaintiffs, Inmate Dorsey informed them CCI's water "had human waste in it, among other toxic contaminants such as Arsenic and LED." Id. at 22.

Plaintiffs claim Defendants are each responsible for CCI's water contamination. As to defendant CCI, Plaintiffs allege defendant CCI is aware of the contaminated water because it "warns Employees and Officers to NOT HANDLE OR DRINK THE CCI INSTITUTION WATER AT CCI YARDS I AND II." Id. at 25. Plaintiffs allege defendant CCI "hire[s] incompetent employees who knowingly represent false reports and fabricat[e] test results" and who are not "certified, qualified, and licensed to perform the job." Id. at 29-30. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege defendant CCI hired the Individual Defendants to "falsify the records in order to evade the fact that the water [at CCI] is harmful for any and all human use, contact, and ingestion." Id. at 23, 27. Plaintiffs allege defendant CCI "cannot afford to Place real Water treatment employees at CCI water treatment Plant because the Legal Officials would declare that the water is not safe[,] [a]nd that Yards I and II would have to be closed down." Id. at 23.

As to the Individual Defendants, Plaintiffs allege they are "jeopardizing inmate INHABITANTS health and safety on a daily basis . . . by operating a Water Treatment Plant and Waste Water Plant and Plant Ops. . . . [and] preforming such practices without proper state certification, licenses, and qualifications . . . in violation of State and Federal laws and regulations." Id. at 9.

Plaintiffs allege defendant Plumlee, who is a "free staff member/employee hired by CCI as a supervisor, Engineer of Plant Ops." has a "duty to supervise the employees at Water and Waste Water Treatment Facilities" for CCI. Id. at 38.

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Plaintiffs claim defendant Plumlee "allowed his subordinates to operate without a license and [state] certifications" and failed "to adequately train and supervise his employees [Trinidad and Rodriguez]." Id. at 8, 35, 36. Plaintiffs further allege defendant Plumlee knows "that high levels of Arsenic[,] lead[,] and human feces exists in the water and that [defendant Rodriguez] pollutes the water supply, tainting the water for the Plaintiffs and for all inmates on Yards I and II at CCI." Id. at 34.

Plaintiffs allege defendant Rodriguez, who is a "free staff member/employee hired by CCI as the Waste Water Supervisor, at California Correctional Institution," is responsible for "illegally dump[ing] HSI Mobile Compressor Oil into the spray fields . . . which contaminates the drinking water on yards I and II at CCI." Id. at 8, 22.

Lastly, Plaintiffs allege defendant Martinez, who is a "free staff member/employee hired by CCI to run the Water Treatment Plant at California Correctional Institution" and who is responsible for taking water samples at CCI to send them out for testing, is not a certified water operator, "has failed his last two water state exams," and "falsifies water test results." Id. at 8, 14, 22, 27, 41. Plaintiffs allege defendant Martinez "know[s] the water [is] tainted on Yards I and II" and that he falsifies test results by taking water samples "from Yards III and IV where the water is clean." Id. at 40. Plaintiffs allege defendants Plumlee and Martinez "fabricate the records on a regular basis." Id. at 23, 42.


As a result of their alleged injuries from both the asbestos exposure and water contamination, Plaintiffs seek (1) $520,000 in compensatory damages; (2) $150,000 in punitive damages; (3) a declaratory judgment defendants violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights and falsified test results regarding air and water quality at CCI; and (4) an injunction evacuating and shutting down CCI yards I and II, ordering asbestos material removed, and removing the Individual Defendants

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from their government offices. Id. at 15-16. Additionally, Plaintiffs seek to have their case designated as a class action.7 Id. at 7.


As Plaintiffs are proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the TAC and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, the Court applies the same pleading standard from Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule 8") as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim "where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory." Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or

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unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (20...

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