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Gilliam v. State of California

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 8, 2008

DAVID GILLIAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION; JOHN PAPPENFUS; SUSAN FLORES; AND KATHY MENDOZA POWERS, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER*fn1

Defendant State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") moves to dismiss this action against it under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff opposes the motion. For the reasons stated, the motion is granted.

On January 17, 2008, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint containing a claim against Defendant for Negligence/Deliberate Indifference.*fn2 (First Am. Compl. at 4:23.) The CDCR argues that it "has Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit and this Court lacks jurisdiction over the claims asserted against [it]." (Mot. at 1:27-28.) Plaintiff counters [a] citizen is permitted to sue his own state if the state so allows. The State of California has enacted statutes regulating the bringing of lawsuits against it for injuries suffered by its citizens by the acts of employees of the governmental entity. Plaintiff brings this action within those statues. (Opp'n at 1:20-24.) The CDCR rejoins "[t]he issue is not whether the State of California . . . can be sued under State law. The issue is whether the State has consented to be sued in this [federal] forum." (Reply at 1:22-24.)

The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prescribes: "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const., amend. XI. The Amendment has been interpreted to preclude suits brought by citizens against their own state as well. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-99 (1984). It also bars a federal district court from exercising supplemental jurisdiction over claims brought against a state based on state law. Id. at 120-21 ("[N]either pendent jurisdiction nor any other basis of jurisdiction may override the Eleventh Amendment."). "Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts and can be raised by a party at any time during judicial proceedings . . . ." In Re Jackson, 184 F.3d 1046, 1048 (9th Cir. 1999). Further, "[a]lthough a State's general waiver of sovereign immunity may subject it to suit in state court, it is not enough to waive the immunity guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment." Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 241 (1985) (emphasis added) (superseded by statute on other grounds). In order to constitute a waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity, a state statute "must specify the State's intention to subject itself to suit in federal court." Id. (emphasis in original).

The CDCR is considered an arm of the state for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment. Moreno v. California, 25 F. Supp. 2d 1060, 1063 (N.D. Cal. 1998) (citing Taormina v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 946 F. Supp. 829, 831 (S.D. Cal. 1996), aff'd, 132 F.3d 40 (9th Cir. 1997)); see also Philips v. McGrath, 2007 WL 2781270, at *2 n.3 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 20, 2007) (noting that CDCR was previously known as California Department of Corrections). Accordingly, "the CDC[R is] immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment . . . ." Moreno, 25 F. Supp. 2d at 1063. Since Plaintiff has not identified any statues in which the State of California has specified its intent to subject itself to suit in federal court for the claim Plaintiff brings against it, Defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is granted, and this Defendant is dismissed as a party to this action.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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