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Jones v. Spaeth

May 12, 2009

MONROE JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARTA SPAETH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court in this prisoner civil rights case is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 13), which is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. Having reviewed the record in this matter, and having considered the written arguments of the parties in the briefing, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order conditionally granting the Motion to Dismiss.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

A. Background

Plaintiff is a California state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis. He alleges that various medical providers have violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide medical care and medication for his chronic back and neck pain. Defendants argue that Plaintiff is not entitled to proceed in forma pauperis because he has had more than three dismissals that count as strikes issued against him pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and because his Amended Complaint does not contain allegations showing he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury, which is an exception that might otherwise allow him to proceed on his Amended Complaint. Defendants alternatively request that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

B. Standard of Law

Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's entire action. A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987)). In reviewing a case for dismissal, the Court is required to treat all allegations of material fact as true and to construe them in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. (quoting Western Reserve Oil & Gas Co. v. New, 765 F.2d 1428, 1430 (9th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1056 (1986)).

The federal courts view Rule 12(b)(6) motions with disfavor. Gilligan v. Jamco Dev. Corp., 108 F.3d 246, 249 (9th Cir. 1997). A court should dismiss a case without leave to amend only in "extraordinary" cases. United States v. City of Redwood, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981).

C. Discussion

1. Three Strikes

The Court is authorized to review a litigant's in forma pauperis status "at any time" during the pendency of a case. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The "three strikes" provision of the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), provides:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

In Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2005), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit explained the analysis used to determine whether an inmate's case is subject to the three strikes rule:

[W]e hold that if defendants challenge a prisoner-plaintiff's IFP status, then the initial production burden rests with the defendants. Thus, when challenging a prisoner's IFP status, the defendants must produce documentary evidence that allows the district court to conclude that the plaintiff has filed at least three prior actions that were dismissed because they were "frivolous, malicious or fail[ed] to state a claim." § 1915(g). In some instances, the district court docket records may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one of the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike. However, in many instances, the docket records will not reflect the basis for the dismissal. In these instances, the defendants may not simply rest on the fact of dismissal. Rather, the defendants ...


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