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Cramer v. Target Corp.

June 2, 2010

MATTHEW B. CRAMER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT DEFENDANT BARRIOS' MOTION TO DISMISS BE DENIED DOCKET NO. 59 OBJECTIONS DUE: 20 DAYS

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Matthew Cramer is a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and pro se with an action for damages and other relief concerning alleged civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his original complaint on November 7, 2008. On December 9, 2008, the complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. On February 17, 2009, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). In Plaintiff's FAC, he seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Michael J. Yant ("Yant") and Eric Heller ("Heller"), two employees of Target Corporation ("Target"), an unnamed defendant referred to as the manager of the Target store, and Tulare Police Officer Greg Barrios ("Barrios").

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was detained and injured by defendants Yant and Heller outside the Target store, and that Barrios witnessed the infliction of those injuries. FAC at 4. Plaintiff asserts that Barrios allowed Defendants Yant and Heller, Target's "asset protection" security officers, to bring Plaintiff back into the store after he was injured so that he could be "interrogated." Id. Plaintiff avers that Barrios accompanied Defendants Yant and Heller into the store along with Plaintiff who requested medical attention. Id. Plaintiff asserts that Barrios then left Plaintiff with Defendants Yant and Heller for more than two hours for purposes of "interrogation," knowing that Plaintiff required medical assistance. Id. Plaintiff contends that when Barrios returned to Target to collect Plaintiff, Barrios transferred Plaintiff "from Target personnel office to Tulare District Hospital with a noted 'shattered collarbone.'" FAC at 4.

Plaintiff asserts that he sustained injuries as the result of this allegedly unlawful detention, was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in the form of deliberate indifference to his medical needs, and suffered the infliction of physical and emotion abuse through the use of excessive force.

On May 4, 2009, Magistrate Judge Sandra M. Snyder issued Findings and Recommendations that certain claims be denied with prejudice, but found that Plaintiff stated a cognizable Section 1983 claim for deliberate and indifferent delay in medical treatment and recommended that the FAC be served on Defendants Heller, Yant, and Barrios. See Findings and Recommendations, Docket No. 11. On June 8, 2009, District Judge Oliver W. Wanger ordered that these Findings and Recommendations be adopted in full. See Order Adopting Findings and Recommendations in Full, Docket No. 15. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims for wrongful arrest, detention, accusation, or conviction were dismissed without leave to amend. Id. The only claim that the Court found cognizable pertained to Defendants Heller, Yant, Barrios, and Defendant Doe for deliberately indifferent delay or deprivation of medical care in violation of Plaintiff's federally protected rights.Id. The Court ordered that those Defendants be served with the FAC. Id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard -- 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolve all doubts in the pleader's favor. Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740, 96 S.Ct. 1848, 48 L.Ed. 2d 338 (1976); Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, 89 S.Ct. 1843, 23 L.Ed. 2d 404, reh'g denied, 396 U.S. 869, 90 S.Ct. 35, 24 L.Ed. 2d 123 (1969). "Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 claims. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed. 2d 1 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed. 2d 868 (2009), (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. The statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512 (internal quotation omitted). A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations. Id. at 514. "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test." Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed. 2d 90 (1974)). Where, as here, the plaintiff is pro se, the complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed. 2d 652 (1972) (holding pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded," must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers").

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), the Court has a statutory duty to screen complaints in cases such as this and dismiss any claims that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Given the requirements of the PLRA, the Court is disinclined to view with favor a subsequent motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

B. Analysis

When a court "screens" the complaint, it applies the same Rule 12(b)(6) standard to the allegations that Barrios requests that the Court apply pursuant to his motion to dismiss. Due to the screening of the FAC, the Court has already determined that Plaintiff's FAC states a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Findings and Recommendations, Docket No. 11; Order Adopting Findings and Recommendations in Full, Docket No. 15.

In its order, the Court specifically found that with respect to Barrios, "Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim . . . for deliberately indifferent delay or deprivation of medical care in violation of Plaintiff's federally protected rights." See Findings and Recommendations, Docket No. 11; Order Adopting Findings and Recommendations in Full, Docket No. 15. The Court also explicitly found that Plaintiff did not state claims for wrongful arrest, detention, accusation, or conviction and determined that those claims should be dismissed without leave to amend because they were barred by Heck ...


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