Claims against state officials

    Fourteenth Amendment

a.       Equal Protection Claims

“To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment a plaintiff must show that the defendants acted with an intent or purpose to discriminate against the plaintiff based upon membership in a protected class.”  Furnace v. Sullivan, 705 F.3d 1021, 1030 (9th Cir. 2013) (quotation marks and citation omitted) (rejecting equal protection claim where inmate failed to show that he was treated differently than any other inmates in the relevant class).

To establish a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the prisoner must present evidence of discriminatory intent.  See Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 239–40 (1976); Serrano, 345 F.3d at 1082; Freeman, 125 F.3d at 737.

b.      Procedural Due Process Claims

The procedural guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments’ Due Process Clauses apply only when a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest is at stake.  See Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 672–73 (1977); Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569 (1972); Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003); Neal v. Shimoda, 131 F.3d 818, 827 (9th Cir. 1997); Erickson v. United States, 67 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 1995); Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 462 (9th Cir. 1995); Tellis v. Godinez, 5 F.3d 1314, 1316 (9th Cir. 1993).  “‘[L]awfully incarcerated persons retain only a narrow range of protected liberty interests.’” Chappell v. Mandeville, 706 F.3d 1052, 1062–63 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467 (1983)) (concluding that temporary contraband watch did not give rise to a liberty interest under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment).

(1)     Defining Liberty Interests

Liberty interests can arise both from the Constitution and from state law.  See Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005); Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466 (1983), abrogated in part on other grounds by Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472 (1995); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224–27 (1976); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557–58 (1974); Pearson v. Muntz, 606 F.3d 606, 609 (9th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (recognizing right arising from state law), overruled on other grounds by Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216 (2011) (per curiam); Carver v. Lehman, 558 F.3d 869, 872 (9th Cir. 2009) (as amended);Smith v. Sumner, 994 F.2d 1401, 1405 (9th Cir. 1993)

(2)     Defining Property Interests

          To have a property interest in a benefit, a person clearly must have more than an abstract need or desire for it. … [The person] must, instead, have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. … Property interests, of course, are not created by the Constitution.  Rather[,] they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law – rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits.

Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577 (1972); see also Town of Castle Rock, CO v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748, 756 (2005); Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 538 (1985); Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593, 602–03 (1972); Gerhart v. Lake Cty., 637 F.3d 1013, 1019 (9th Cir. 2011); Johnson v. Rancho Santiago Cmty. Coll. Dist., 623 F.3d 1011, 1030 (9th Cir. 2010); Doyle v. City of Medford, 606 F.3d 667, 672 (9th Cir. 2010); Schneider v. Cal. Dep’t of Corr., 151 F.3d 1194, 1199–1201 (9th Cir. 1998) (clarifying that property interests can be created by common law principles even when in conflict with state statutes); Nunez v. City of Los Angeles, 147 F.3d 867, 872 (9th Cir. 1998); Brooks v. United States, 127 F.3d 1192, 1194 (9th Cir. 1997); Erickson v. United States, 67 F.3d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1995); Tellis v. Godinez, 5 F.3d 1314, 1316 (9th Cir. 1993)

(4)     Effect of State Remedies

A state 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; Lake Nacimiento Ranch Co. v. Cty. of San Luis Obispo, 841 F.2d 872, 879 (9th Cir. 1988).

The “post-deprivation rule” does not apply to claims alleging a deprivation of a right guaranteed by the substantive Due Process Clause, see Zinermon, 494 U.S. at 125; Wood v. Ostrander, 879 F.2d 583, 588–89 (9th Cir. 1989); Smith v. City of Fontana, 818 F.2d 1411, 1415 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled in part on other grounds by Hodgers-Durgin v. De la Vina, 199 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc), or to allegations of official assault or callous disregard to safety, see Wood, 879 F.2d at 589; McRorie v. Shimoda, 795 F.2d 780, 786 (9th Cir. 1986), or to Fourth Amendment claims, see Taylor, 871 F.2d at 806; Robins v. Harum, 773 F.2d 1004, 1009 (9th Cir. 1985).

(5)     State-of-Mind Requirement

Negligent conduct by a prison official is insufficient to state a claim under the Due Process Clause.  See Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347 (1986); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330–31 (1986); Wood v. Ostrander, 879 F.2d 583, 587 (9th Cir. 1989); Davis v. City of Ellensburg, 869 F.2d 1230, 1235 (9th Cir. 1989); Woodrum v. Woodward Cty., 866 F.2d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 1989).

It is unclear whether reckless or grossly negligent conduct states a claim under the Due Process Clause.  See Daniels, 474 U.S. at 334 n.3; Wood, 879 F.2d at 587–88.

c.       Substantive Due Process Claims

          To establish a violation of substantive due process … , a plaintiff is ordinarily required to prove that a challenged government action was clearly arbitrary and unreasonable, having no substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals or general welfare.  However, where a particular amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection against a particular sort of government behavior, that Amendment, not the more generalized notion of substantive due process, must be the guide for analyzing a plaintiff’s claims.

Patel v. Penman, 103 F.3d 868, 874 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations, internal quotation marks, and brackets omitted), overruled in part on other grounds as recognized by Nitco Holding Corp. v. Boujikian, 491 F.3d 1086 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Cty. of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 841–42 (1998); Galbraith v. Cty. of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1119, 1127 (9th Cir. 2002)

B.      Statutory Claims

1.       42 U.S.C. § 1981

Section 1981 prohibits racial discrimination by private actors.  See Johnson v. Ry. Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 459–60 (1975); Cerrato v. S.F. Cmty. Coll. Dist., 26 F.3d 968, 971 n.4 (9th Cir. 1994); Evans v. McKay, 869 F.2d 1341, 1344 (9th Cir. 1989).

Section 1981 only prohibits intentional discrimination.  See Gen. Bldg. Contractors Ass’n, Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U.S. 375, 391 (1982); Doe v. Kamehameha Sch./Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, 470 F.3d 827, 839 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc); Evans, 869 F.2d at 1344; Jurado v. Eleven-Fifty Corp., 813 F.2d 1406, 1412 (9th Cir. 1987).

2.       42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)

          To state a cause of action under § 1985(3), a complaint must allege (1) a conspiracy, (2) to deprive any person or a class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws, (3) an act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (4) a personal injury, property damage or a deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States.

Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 641 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102–03 (1971)); see also Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp., 978 F.2d 1529, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992).

“The language requiring intent to deprive of equal protection … means that there must be some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators’ action.”  Griffin, 403 U.S. at 102; see also RK Ventures, Inc. v. City of Seattle, 307 F.3d 1045, 1056 (9th Cir. 2002); Butler v. Elle, 281 F.3d 1014, 1028 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curiam); Sever, 978 F.2d at 1536.  Animus toward union members does not meet the “otherwise class-based” factor of Griffin.  See United Bhd. of Carpenters, Local 610 v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 835 (1983).  The Supreme Court has declined to address whether gender is an “otherwise class-based” category under § 1985(3).  See Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 269 (1993).

The Ninth Circuit has extended § 1985(3) “beyond race only when the class in question can show that there has been a governmental determination that its members require and warrant special federal assistance in protecting their civil rights.”  Sever, 978 F.2d at 1536 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).  “More specifically, [the Ninth Circuit] require[s] ‘either that the courts have designated the class in question a suspect or quasi-suspect classification requiring more exacting scrutiny or that Congress has indicated through legislation that the class required special protection.’”  Id. (quoting Schultz v. Sundberg, 759 F.2d 714, 718 (9th Cir. 1985) (per curiam)); see also Holgate v. Baldwin, 425 F.3d 671, 676 (9th Cir. 2005); Maynard v. City of San Jose, 37 F.3d 1396, 1403 (9th Cir. 1994); Canlis v. San Joaquin Sheriff’s Posse Comitatus, 641 F.2d 711, 720 (9th Cir. 1981).

“A claim under this section must allege facts to support the allegation that defendants conspired together.  A mere allegation of conspiracy without factual specificity is insufficient.”  Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep’t, 839 F.2d 621, 626 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 1039 (9th Cir. 1991).  For further discussion of proving conspiracy claims, see supra I.A.2.b.(5).

3.       42 U.S.C. § 1986

“Section 1986 authorizes a remedy against state actors who have negligently failed to prevent a conspiracy that would be actionable under § 1985.”  Cerrato v. S.F. Cmty. Coll. Dist., 26 F.3d 968, 971 n.7 (9th Cir. 1994).  “A claim can be stated under [§] 1986 only if the complaint contains a valid claim under [§] 1985.”  Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep’t, 839 F.2d 621, 626 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 1040 (9th Cir. 1991).

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