Adkins v. Kernan, 2:19-CV-0458-DMC-P

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Decision Date24 June 2019
Docket Number2:19-CV-0458-DMC-P
PartiesDUPREE LAMONT ADKINS, Plaintiff, v. SCOTT KERNAN, et al., Defendants.


SCOTT KERNAN, et al., Defendants.

No. 2:19-CV-0458-DMC-P

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 24, 2019



Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.


The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). / / /

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require complaints contain a “…short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572F.3d at 969.


Plaintiff names the following as Defendants: (1) Scott Kernan (2) Deborah Blackwell (3) R. Neuschmid (3) Russell Douglas (4) M. Dernoncourt (5) M. McComas (6) Angela Sherman (7) L. Garcia (8) M. Doe (9) J. Lee (10) E. Arnold. See ECF No. 1, at 2, 4. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying him the opportunity to call witnesses in an Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) hearing and failing to appoint Plaintiff staff assistance at the same ASU hearing. Plaintiff alleges his own staff assistant was necessary for a fair hearing. Plaintiff also alleges Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection by discriminating against him when Defendants initially placed him in ASU. Plaintiff states as a member of the Enhanced Out Patient (EOP) program, he is a protected class.

Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate and proper medical and mental health care. Plaintiff alleges Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical and mental health needs because they knew he was classified as EOP and they knew ASU does not offer the scheduled and consistent “therapeutic structured activities” he requires to remain mentally stable. Plaintiff alleges the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Mental Health Program Guide requires each EOP prisoner in ASU must be provided with a minimum ten hours per week of “structured therapeutic activities, ” a weekly case manager meeting, and Title 15 mandated out of cell time. Plaintiff claims in ASU he was not receiving the above detailed requirements. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges poor living conditions in ASU, stating they amounted to a serious deprivation of the “minimal civilized measures of life's necessities.”

Plaintiff alleges the following deficient conditions:

1. The food is inadequate because it is not EOP food and it was poisoned.

2. The clothing provided is a “dreary” jumpsuit, boxer shorts, socks, and T-shirt. Thermal underwear was not provided. Additionally, all clothing can only be exchanged once a week for cleaning.

3. Shelter is inadequate because Plaintiff could not receive EOP “structured therapeutic activities, ” Plaintiff experienced sensory deprivation and constriction of space, and activity in isolation. There is also no regular outdoor exercise.

4. Sanitation is inadequate because Plaintiff was provided one bar of soap that makes his skin itch.

5. The provided “tooth powder” is rancid.

6. The provided toothbrush is three inches long.

7. Plaintiff alleges he couldn't receive his prescription contact lotion for itchy skin.

8. The safety measures are inadequate because Plaintiff alleges he suffered psychological distress.


As currently set forth, the Court finds Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim under § 1983. Plaintiff alleges violations of his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. Within each claim, it is difficult to decipher various sub-issues. For that reason, this Court identifies five primary claims alleged by Plaintiff in the complaint. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying him witnesses and staff assistance at an ASU hearing, and further discriminating against him under the equal protection clause by reaching the decision to continue his occupancy in ASU. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by denying him adequate mental health care while in ASU and by the inadequate living conditions in ASU.

A. Fourteenth Amendment Claims

The Due Process Clause protects prisoners from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). In order to state a claim of deprivation of due process, a plaintiff must allege the existence of a liberty or property interest for which the protection is sought. See Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 672 (1977); Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569 (1972). Due process protects against the deprivation of property where there is a legitimate claim of entitlement to the property. See Bd. of Regents, 408 U.S. at 577. Protected property interests are created, and their dimensions are defined, by existing rules that stem from an independent source - such as state law - and which secure certain benefits and support claims of entitlement to those benefits. See id.

Liberty interests can arise both from the Constitution and from state law. See Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466 (1983); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224-27 (1976); Smith v. Sumner, 994 F.2d 1401, 1405 (9th Cir. 1993). In determining whether the Constitution itself protects a liberty interest, the court should consider whether the practice in question “. . . is within the normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the State to impose.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 557-58; Smith, 994 F.2d at 1405. Applying this standard, the Supreme Court has concluded that the Constitution itself provides no liberty interest in good-time credits, see Wolff, 418 U.S. at 557; in remaining in the general population, see Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 485-86 (1995); in not losing privileges, see Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 323 (1976); in staying at a particular institution, see Meachum, 427 U.S. at 225-27; or in remaining in a prison in a particular state, see Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245-47 (1983).

In determining whether state law confers a liberty interest, the Supreme Court has adopted an approach in which the existence of a liberty interest is determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation. See Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 (1995). In doing so, the Court has held that state law creates a liberty interest deserving of protection only where the deprivation in question: (1) restrains the inmate's freedom in a manner not expected from the sentence; and (2) “imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Id. at 483-84. Prisoners in California have a liberty interest in the procedures used in prison disciplinary hearings where a successful claim would not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 853, 859 (9th Cir. 2003) (concluding that a due process challenge to a prison disciplinary hearing which did not result in the loss of good-time credits was cognizable under § 1983); see also Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 82 (2005) (concluding that claims which did not seek earlier or immediate release from prison were cognizable under § 1983).

Where a prisoner alleges the deprivation of a liberty or property interest caused by the random and unauthorized action of a prison official, there is no claim cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the state provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. See Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 129-32 (1990); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984). A state's post-deprivation remedy may be adequate even though it does not provide relief identical to that available under § 1983. See Hudson, 468 U.S. at 531 n.11. A due process claim is not barred, however, where the deprivation is foreseeable and the state can therefore be reasonably expected to make...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT