The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES LORENZ, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST
AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) [Doc. No. 27]
Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at Salinas Valley
State Prison in Soledad, California, and proceeding pro se, first
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
October 14, 2004. Plaintiff also prepaid the initial civil filing
fee rather than proceeding in forma pauperis. On April 18,
2005, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC").
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended
Complaint pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) on July 8, 2005.
While this case was randomly referred upon filing to the
Honorable Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) for disposition, the Court has determined that a
Report and Recommendation regarding the disposition of
Defendants' pending Motion to Dismiss is unnecessary. See S.D.
CAL. CIVLR 72.3(a) (assigning "[a]ll of the District's civil §
1983 prisoner caseload" to the District's magistrate judges for
disposition either upon consent of all parties, or in absence of unanimous written consent, "upon
submission of proposed findings and recommendations to the
district judge, unless the district judge orders otherwise.").
On March 6, 2001, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Richard J.
Donovan Correctional Facility ("Donovan") awaiting transfer to
Salinas Valley State Prison ("Salinas") See FAC at 3. Plaintiff
suffers from mental health problems and sought to remain at
Donovan where he believed that he would receive adequate mental
health care. Id. However, when he was informed that the
transfer to Salinas was imminent, Plaintiff climbed onto the
guard rail with the intention of jumping from the top tier
because he was hearing voices in his head telling him to jump.
Id. Correctional Officer Renteria yelled to Plaintiff to stop
him from jumping. Id.
Before Plaintiff jumped from the top tier, he saw that
Defendant Laird was approaching. Plaintiff alleges that he was
fearful of Defendant Laird due to past harassment and
mistreatment of his mental health issues by Defendant Laird.
Id. Because Plaintiff believed that Defendant Laird would harm
him and he heard the voices in his head, Plaintiff jumped off the
tier. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Clark
urged him to jump. Id. at 4.
After Plaintiff jumped, he alleges Defendant Laird sprayed him
with "OC" (pepper) spray. Id. Defendant Laird then instructed
Plaintiff to stand up and told Plaintiff that if he wanted the
"burning to stop" (from the pepper spray) he needed to go to the
showers. Id. Plaintiff claims that he was unable to move his
legs and he was told by medical personnel that too much pepper
spray was used. Id. Plaintiff was then, lifted onto a "medical
bed" by correctional officers. Id.
Plaintiff was later helped into a wheelchair by Defendant
Osborne, an X-ray technician, who then escorted him to the X-ray
room. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Osborne was holding
a stapler in his hand and "pretended" to have trouble opening the
door to the examination room. Id. Osborne then "deliberately
dropped" the stapler on Plaintiff's foot to determine whether
Plaintiff was "faking" his injuries. Id. Plaintiff filed an
administrative grievance alleging excessive force and medical
malpractice. Id. Later that same day, Plaintiff was transferred
to Salinas Valley State Prison. Id. at 6. II. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss per FED. R. CIV. P.
12(b)(6) [Doc. No. 27-1]
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint
for failing to state a claim pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6).
Defendants claim that: (1) Plaintiff's claims are barred by res
judicata and collateral estoppel; (2) Plaintiff has not stated a
Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Defendant Raupe;
and (3) Defendant Raupe is entitled to qualified immunity.
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
FED.R.CIV. P. 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims
in the complaint. A claim can only be dismissed if it "appears
beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Hishon v. King &
Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The court must accept as true
all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable
inferences to be drawn from them, and must construe the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. N.L. Industries,
Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986); Parks School
of Business, Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir.
The court looks not at whether the plaintiff will "ultimately
prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to
support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
(1974). Unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim, a complaint cannot
be dismissed without leave to amend. Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46;
see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129-30 (9th Cir. 2000)
(en banc) (district court should grant leave to amend when
complaint fails to state a claim "unless it determines that the
pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other
facts" and if "it appears at all possible that the plaintiff can
correct the defect") (citations omitted).
Where a plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the
pleadings liberally and afford the plaintiff any benefit of the
doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621,
623 (9th Cir. 1988). The rule of liberal construction is
"particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v.
Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992); Noll v.
Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987) ("Presumably
unskilled in the law, the pro se litigant is far more prone to making errors in pleading than the person who benefits
from the representation of counsel."). In giving liberal
interpretation to a pro se civil rights complaint, however, a
court may not "supply essential elements of the claim that were
not initially pled." Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the University of
Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). "Vague and conclusory
allegations of official participation in civil rights violations
are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss." Id.; see
also Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649
(9th Cir. 1984) (conclusory allegations unsupported by facts are
insufficient to state a claim under section 1983.) "The plaintiff
must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts
which defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's claim."
Jones, 733 F.2d at 649 (internal quotation omitted).
B. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
Defendants argue that the doctrines of res judicata and
collateral estoppel bars this action. Specifically, Defendants
request that the Court take judicial notice of a previous action
filed by Plaintiff in Nichols v. Laird, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil
Case No. 04cv1662 J (PCL). A court "may take notice of
proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal
judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to
matters at issue." United States ex rel. Robinson Rancheria
Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir.
1992). Thus, it is ...