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Khalafala v. Scully

December 16, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer T. Lum United States Magistrate Judge


On November 14, 2008, Khalafala Khalafala ("plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 ("Complaint"). Plaintiff's claims arise out of his arrest and subsequent detention by the Sacramento Police Department. Plaintiff named the following defendants in his Complaint: the State of California; the County of Sacramento; Sacramento County District Attorney's Office; Sacramento County Police Department; Jan Scully, Sacramento County District Attorney; Dawn Baldet, a Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney; and an unknown Sacramento police employee. (Complaint at 2-6). Plaintiff names all defendants in both their individual and official capacities. (Id. at 7-8). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown, California.

In accordance with the provisions of the "Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995" ("PLRA"), the Court has screened the Complaint before ordering service to determine whether the action (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; 42 U.S.C. §1997e(c)(1); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

The Court's screening of plaintiff's Complaint under the foregoing statute is governed by the following standards: A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory, or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Because plaintiff is appearing pro se, the Court must construe the allegations of the Complaint liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Moreover, in determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

After careful review and consideration of the Complaint under the relevant standards, and for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and ORDERS the COMPLAINT DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.


On February 19, 2004, plaintiff was arrested by the Sacramento Police Department and placed in Sacramento County Jail. (Complaint at 10). On May 1, 2004, the case against plaintiff was dismissed. Thereafter, plaintiff contacted the property division of the Sacramento Police Department several times to retrieve the personal property he had turned over to the Sacramento Police Department at the time of his arrest. (Id. at 10-11). An unknown employee of the Sacramento Police Department released plaintiff's bicycle, and told plaintiff that the rest of his property would not be released pursuant to instructions from the Sacramento County District Attorney's office. (Complaint at 11). Plaintiff alleges that the unreleased property included plaintiff's travel documents, identification documents, phone notebooks, bank account numbers and university and college diplomas. (Id.). Plaintiff argues that in denying him his property, defendants restricted plaintiff's freedom and "maliciously held plaintiff virtual prisoner in Sacramento County from the period of May 7, 2004 until June 28, 2004."*fn1 (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that all defendants were acting under the color of state law and conspired to deprive him of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws. (Id. at 8). Plaintiff further alleges that the State of California, County of Sacramento, the Sacramento County District Attorney's office, Sacramento County Police Department and Jan Scully failed to adequately train, supervise, review and enforce the laws of the State of California and the County of Sacramento. (Id. at 13-14). In addition, plaintiff alleges defendants Jan Scully and Dawn Baldet intentionally acted to deprive plaintiff of his right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unlawful seizures. (Id. at 14-15).

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 8, 16).



A. Plaintiff's Claim Against the State of California is Barred by the Eleventh Amendment

The Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal jurisdiction over claims against a state without its consent unless Congress has abrogated the state's Eleventh Amendment immunity. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). The State of California has not consented to be sued under Section 1983 in federal court, and the Supreme Court has held that Section 1983 was not intended to abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity. Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 1025-26 (9th Cir. 1999); see Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 n.17 (1985). Because the Eleventh ...

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