Quiroga v. Graves

Decision Date20 August 2018
Docket Number1:16-cv-00234-DAD-GSA-PC
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
PartiesMONICO J. QUIROGA III, Plaintiff, v. SERGEANT GRAVES, et al., Defendants.




Plaintiff Monico J. Quiroga III ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.) On November 29, 2016, the court dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend. (ECF No. 20.) On December 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 21.)

On September 29, 2017, the court dismissed the First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend. (ECF No. 33.) On October 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 34.)

On March 15, 2018, the court screened the Second Amended Complaint and issued an order for Plaintiff to either (1) file a Third Amended Complaint, or (2) notify the court he is willing to proceed only with the due process claim found cognizable by the court. (ECF No. 37.) On March 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed the Third Amended Complaint, which is now before the court for screening. (ECF No. 39.)


The in forma pauperis statute provides that "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 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). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and 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). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir.2002) (emphasis added). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.


Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California. At the time of the events at issue in the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Kern County Sheriff's Detention Facility in Bakersfield, California. Plaintiff names as defendants Sergeant (Sgt.) Brenda Graves, Corporal (Corp.) Oscar Fuentes, Gause (Classification), and the Kern County Sheriff's Detention Department (collectively, "Defendants").

Plaintiff's allegations follow. On January 9, 2016, while Plaintiff was being held as a pretrial detainee, defendants Sgt. Graves, Corp. Fuentes, and Gause entered F-1 housing, instructed the inmates to stand against the wall, patted them down and sent them to the recreation yard. Defendants then searched the unit.

When the inmates returned from the yard, Sgt. Graves told them to line up in front of their cell doors. Plaintiff was on the second tier, cell 107. Someone yelled at the inmates to enter their cells when a fight broke out on the bottom tier between two inmates about fifteen yards away. Defendant Graves was between Plaintiff and the incident on the bottom tier. She (Graves) turned and as Plaintiff was entering his cell with his back to the inciden, defendant Gause fired a round from his pepper ball gun from 20 to 25 yards. Plaintiff heard a second round as his door closed behind him. Plaintiff believed that defendant Gause fired the first round, and defendant Graves fired the second round. Plaintiff was not a threat to anyone, not involved in the incident, and had his back to them.

Due to Plaintiff's federal civil suit being heard that day, and because he was being moved to Ad-Seg Isolation without a write-up or hearing, Plaintiff believed that Defendants' actions were in retaliation against him for filing an inmate grievance or complaint. What happed next convinced Plaintiff he was being retaliated against. Plaintiff was escorted bydefendant Fuentes and housed in a cell full of blood, urine, and feces, with vomit on the bed and writing with blood on the walls. Plaintiff was denied a dinner tray.

On January 9, 2016, Plaintiff submitted an inmate grievance and received a response stating that although he was not involved in the altercation he had caused a disturbance, which Plaintiff asserts is unfounded. Plaintiff was being labeled a 25er and caught a cold due to the unsanitary conditions of the cell. Plaintiff asked to receive Hepatitis and HIV blood tests.

On January 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a second grievance. Plaintiff's cell was searched and he was released from Ad-Seg Isolation without any hearing or write-up.

Due to the timing and the involvement of detention deputies from Plaintiff's last federal suit, 1:15-cv-01697-AWI-MJS, where he named Gause and Fuentes as defendants, Plaintiff believes he was placed in Ad-Seg out of retaliation for filing civil suit 1:15-cv-01697-AWI-MJS. Plaintiff was also falsely labeled a Mano Neera, Mano Azul, and Mafioso member and placed at risk of harm by real security threat groups by his placement where they house security threat groups.

Plaintiff requests monetary damages.


The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, 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.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. "Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Crowley v. Nevada ex rel. Nevada Sec'y of State, 678 F.3d 730, 734 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Graham v.Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94, 109 S.Ct. 1865 (1989)) (internal quotation marks omitted). To state a claim, Plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating the existence of a link, or causal connection, between each defendant's actions or omissions and a violation of his federal rights. Lemire v. California Dep't of Corr. and Rehab., 726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013); Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011).

A. Rights of Pretrial Detainees

Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the time of the events at issue. "[P]retrial detainees . . . possess greater constitutional rights than prisoners." Stone v. City of San Francisco, 968 F.2d 850, 857 n.10 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Gary H. v. Hegstrom, 831 F.2d 1430, 1432 (9th Cir. 1987). A pretrial detainee's right to be free from punishment is grounded in the Due Process Clause, but courts borrow from Eighth Amendment jurisprudence when analyzing the rights of pre-trial detainees. See Pierce v. Cnty. of Orange, 526 F.3d 1190, 1205 (9th Cir. 2008); Lolli v. Cnty. of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 418-19 (9th Cir. 2003); Or. Advocacy Ctr. v. Mink, 322 F.3d 1101, 1120 (9th Cir. 2003); Gibson v. Cnty. of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002); Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998); Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1996); Anderson v. Cnty. of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1312-13 (9th Cir. 1995); Maddox v. City of Los Angeles, 792 F.2d 1408, 1414-15 (9th Cir. 1986). For example, where the pretrial detainee is claiming that prison officials are liable for a breach of the duty to protect the detainee from attack by other inmates and detainees, the court should utilize Eighth Amendment standards. See Redman v. Cnty. of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1443 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc); see also Pierce, 526 F.3d at 1209-13 (explaining that detainees in administrative segregation are...

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