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Clark v. Small

March 15, 2010

MOSES CLARK CDCR #F-99760, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY SMALL; R. MADDEN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER:

(1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6); and

(2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE DEFENDANT'S REPLY TO OPPOSITION

[Doc. Nos. 18, 26]

In this prisoner civil rights case, Moses Clark ("Plaintiff"), is proceeding in pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Defendants Small and Madden have filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) [Doc. No. 18]. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition to both Motions to which Defendants have filed a Reply. Because Defendants' Reply was filed one day late, Plaintiff has filed a "Motion to Strike Defendant's Reply" [Doc. No. 26].

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff was incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison ("CAL") in 2008. (See FAC at 6.) On September 16, 2008, a race riot occurred on Facility "C" between the African American and Caucasian inmates. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff, a Muslim, practices his faith during Ramadan every year. (Id. at 6.) Due to the race riot, the prison was placed on lockdown status from September 25, 2008 to October 2, 2008 which disrupted Plaintiff's ability to practice his faith during Ramadan. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants interfered with his religious practice that requires him to "break his spiritual fast" with other Muslims. (Id. at 8.)

II. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Reply

Plaintiff has filed a "Motion to Strike Defendants' Reply to Opposition to Motion to Dismiss." [Doc. No. 18]. Plaintiff claims that this Reply was untimely by four days. While the Reply is untimely by one day, its untimeliness is not prejudicial to Plaintiff. Thus, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion.

III. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint

Defendants Small and Madden seek dismissal of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff's allegations do not state a religious claim under the First Amendment or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA"); (2) Plaintiff has failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Claim; (3) Plaintiff has failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Claim; (4) Plaintiff's claim for monetary damages against all the Defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; and (5) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

A. FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) Standard of Review

A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal may be based on either a "'lack of a cognizable legal theory' or 'the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.'" Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare System, LP, 534 F.3d 1116, 1121-22 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). In other words, the plaintiff's complaint must provide a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief." Id. (citing FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(2)). "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant[s] fair notice of what ... the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

A motion to dismiss should be granted if plaintiff fails to proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) .

In addition, factual allegations asserted by pro se petitioners, "however inartfully pleaded," are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519-20 (1972). Thus, where a plaintiff appears in propria persona in a civil rights case, the Court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff any benefit ...


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