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Chavez v. Hansson

January 31, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge


Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility ("RJDCF") in San Diego, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges two RJDCF staff psychiatrists (Defendants Hansson and Kaiser) and a staff psychologist (Defendant Saldivar) have acted with deliberate indifference to his serious mental health needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment. (See Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff seeks no damages, only injunctive relief preventing Defendants from removing him from the "Enhanced Outpatient Program" ("EOP") and requiring "adequate and proper psych[iatric] treatment," including "the correct medications." (Id. at 7.)

On November 1, 2007, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), and directed the U.S. Marshal to effect service of the summons and Complaint upon the Defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) [Doc. No. 3]. Since then, the U.S. Marshal has been unable to execute service as to Defendants Hanssson and Saldivar [Doc. Nos. 5-6].*fn1 The U.S. Marshal has successfully executed service upon Defendant Kaiser, however, and on January 14, 2008, Defendant Kaiser filed a waiver of personal service pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 4(d) [Doc. No. 6].

On January 18, 2008, Plaintiff submitted a letter addressed to the Clerk of Court, which the Court accepted for filing despite its failure to comply with S.D. CAL. CIVLR 77.2 [Doc. Nos. 8, 9]. In this letter, Plaintiff both advises the Court of the U.S. Marshal's service upon defendant Kaiser, but also asserts that "on or about January 11, 2008, [he] was threatened by [his] current primary care psychologist with removal" from the EOP, in which he has "been a participant for well over nine (9) years." See Letter at 1. Plaintiff acknowledges that his "continued [EOP] treatment is "the heart of his civil rights complaint and injunctive relief which [he] is requesting."

To the extent Plaintiff's letter may be liberally construed to be a request for preliminary injunctive relief under FED.R.CIV.P. 65, however, Plaintiff must demonstrate "(1) a strong likelihood of success on the merits, (2) the possibility of irreparable injury ... if preliminary relief is not granted, (3) a balance of hardships favoring [him], and (4) advancement of the public interest (in certain cases)." Beardslee v. Woodford, 395 F.3d 1064, 1067 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Johnson v. Cal. State Bd. of Accountancy, 72 F.3d 1427, 1430 (9th Cir. 1995)) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Alternatively, injunctive relief could be granted if Plaintiff "demonstrates 'either a combination of probable success on the merits and the possibility of irreparable injury or that serious questions are raised and the balance of hardships tips sharply in his favor.'" Id. (citation omitted). "These two alternatives represent 'extremes of a single continuum,' rather than two separate tests." Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 340 F.3d 810, 813 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).

Here, Plaintiff's letter, by itself, is simply not sufficient to show either a strong likelihood of success on the merits or the irreparable injury required to justify immediate injunctive relief. Beardslee, 395 F.3d at 1067. While the Court has found Plaintiff's Complaint sufficient to survive the initial screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, this case is in the preliminary pleading stages. Thus, there is yet no evidence from which the Court may determine the likelihood that Plaintiff will actually prevail on the merits of his Eighth Amendment claims.

In addition, Plaintiff's letter states that his "case manager, Dr. Bahro, Ph.D, stat[ed] [his] removal is imminent, even though there are records which state [he is ] mentally ill." (See Pl.'s Letter at 1.) To the extent Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief preventing Dr. Bahro from removing him from the EOP however, the Court has no jurisdiction. A federal district court may issue an injunction only if it has personal jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit. The court may not attempt to determine the rights of persons not before the court. See, e.g., Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell, 245 U.S. 229, 234-35 (1916); Zepeda v. INS, 753 F.2d 719, 727-28 (9th Cir. 1983). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d), an injunction binds only "the parties to the action, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and ... those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the order ...." The district court must, therefore, tailor the injunction to affect only those persons over which it has power. See Gardner v. Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., 437 U.S. 478, 481 (1978). A district court lacks authority to issue an injunction directed at an entity that is not a party before it. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 112 (1969).

As noted above, Plaintiff's Complaint names only three RJDCF officials as defendants: Jason Hansson, M.D., Leo Saldivar, Ph.D, and Craig Kaiser, M.D. Dr. Bahro , who is mentioned in Plaintiff's letter, is not named in his Complaint and therefore, is not a party to this action. The only party over whom this Court currently has personal jurisdiction is Dr. Kaiser; however, Plaintiff's letter does not seek injunctive relief as to him. Therefore, this Court lacks the power to grant the injunctive relief Plaintiff appears to seek. See Zepeda, 753 F.2d at 727-28.

Conclusion and Order

For all these reasons, the Court hereby finds that to the extent Plaintiff's letter seeks preliminary injunctive relief, it must be denied without prejudice at this time.

IT IS SO ...

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