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Long v. California Dep't of Corrections and Rehabilitation

January 30, 2009

JAMES FREDERICK LONG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway United States District Judge

SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff James Fredrick Long is a prisoner proceeding pro se. On October 6, 2008, Long filed the Complaint in this matter. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, this court has "screened" Long's Complaint and determined that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, the Complaint is dismissed. Long is granted leave to amend his Complaint to state viable claims no later than February 26, 2009.

II. ANALYSIS

Because Long has filed the present action as a pro se prisoner, this court must screen his Complaint to determine whether it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and whether it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.

In the caption to his Complaint, Long identifies the "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, et al." as the "Defendants" in this matter. Long, however, fails to clearly identify who else besides the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are Defendants in this matter.

Long's Complaint alleges a "handicap" and says that he uses a cane. It alleges that, on May 29, 2008, correctional officers forced him to walk up and down stairs. Long asserts that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation therefore violated his civil rights, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and was negligent. Long seeks $8,000,000 in damages.

A. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Has Eleventh Amendment Immunity With Respect to Long's § 1983 and Negligence Claims

To the extent Long asserts that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation violated his civil rights, Long must be asserting a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which states:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is a state agency that has Eleventh Amendment immunity from Long's claim for money damages pursuant to § 1983. See Goodman v. Cal. Dept. of Corr. & Rehab., 2008 WL 4610268, 6 (C.D. Cal. October 14, 2008) ("Thus, Defendant California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a state agency, sued for monetary damages and injunctive relief is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity."); Alcorn v. Sierra Conservation Ctr., 2008 WL 4470511, 2 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2008) ("Because SCC is a part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which is a state agency, it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit, and cannot be named as a defendant in this action."); Solvey v. Tilton, 2008 WL 1734189, 1 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 11, 2008) ("Because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is a state agency, it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and is an improper Defendant in this suit."). Moreover, as a state agency, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is not a "person" for purposes of § 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Christman v. Micheletti, 2008 WL 5157493, 1 (9th Cir. Dec. 9, 2008) ("The district court properly dismissed Christman's claims against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation because the state agency is not a 'person' under section 1983.").

Long's negligence claim against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is similarly barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Riggle v. Cal., 577 F.2d 579, 581 (9th Cir. 1978) (holding that California had Eleventh Amendment immunity from a claim asserting that California negligently operated a bridge); Guzman v. Van Demark, 651 F. Supp. 1180 (C.D. Cal. 1987) (dismissing negligence claim asserted against a state agency on Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds).

B. Long's ADA Claim Fails to Allege Sufficient Facts

The court also dismisses Long's ADA claim, as it fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); Lazy Y Ranch Ltd v. Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 2008). In dismissing Long's ADA claims, the court is expressing no opinion on whether what is alleged actually happened or whether such allegations state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The court is instead holding that the ...


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