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Bloodworth v. County of Imperial

July 18, 2010

DEREK J. BLOODWORTH, CDCR #F-53229, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF IMPERIAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER SUA SPONTE DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED STATE A CLAIM AND FOR FAILING TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES [Doc. No. 28] COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO

I. Procedural History

On November 30, 2009 Derek Bloodworth ("Plaintiff"), a former state inmate filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A, the Court conducted a sua sponte screening of Plaintiff's Complaint, granted his Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP) and directed the U.S. Marshal to effect service of the Complaint. See Jan. 6, 2010 Order at 5-6.

On February 24, 2010, Defendants County of Imperial and Raymond Loera filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. No. 7]. Plaintiff then filed a "Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint" and a "Motion for Order Directing the U.S. Marshal Serve Summons and First Amended Complaint." Magistrate Judge Peter Lewis issued an Order granting Plaintiff permission to file a First Amended Complaint and denying his request for an order directing the U.S. Marshal to effect service on the newly added Defendants.

Upon review of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, the Court found that it was appropriate to conduct a sua sponte screening of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) ("[n]otwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines" that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune) (emphasis added). The Court sua sponte dismissed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint for failing to state a claim but provided him leave to file a Second Amended Complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified by the Court. See Doc No. 25, May 3, 2010 Order at 7-8. On May 28, 2010, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). The Court will, once again, conduct a sua sponte screening of Plaintiff's SAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

II. Sua Sponte Screening per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

A. Standard

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any IFP or prisoner complaint, or any portion thereof, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or which seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

As currently pled, it is clear that Plaintiff's SAC fails to state a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 imposes two essential proof requirements upon a claimant: (1) that a person acting under color of state law committed the conduct at issue, and (2) that the conduct deprived the claimant of some right, privilege, or immunity protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 124 S.Ct. 2117, 2122 (2004); Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985) (en banc).

In Plaintiff's SAC, he no longer names as Defendants Warren Kato, Michael Ramirez or T. Pickett. See SAC at 1-19. Thus, these Defendants are dismissed from this action. See May 3, 2010 Order (citing King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987)).

B. Claims Against Municipalities and Sheriffs

Plaintiff identifies both the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, Leroy Baca and the Sheriff of Imperial County, Raymond Loera, as Defendants. If Plaintiff seeks damages from Defendants Baca and Loera based on their roles as the Sheriffs of Los Angeles and Imperial Counties, he must set forth specific factual allegations regarding these Defendants' participation in the alleged violation of his rights, because there is no respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Palmer v. Sanderson, 9 F.3d 1433, 1437-38 (9th Cir. 1993). Instead, "[t]he inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation." Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 370-71 (1976)). In order to avoid the respondeat superior bar, Plaintiff must allege personal acts by each individual Defendant which have a direct causal connection to the constitutional violation at issue. See Sanders v. Kennedy, 794 F.2d 478, 483 (9th Cir. 1986); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Here, Plaintiff's only allegations against these individuals are with respect to their supervisory roles. Thus, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Baca and Loera are DISMISSED for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Plaintiff also lists as Defendants "County of Imperial (by and through its Board of Supervisors)" and "County of Los Angeles (by and through its Board of Supervisors)." SAC at 1. While the County of Imperial and the County of Los Angeles themselves may be considered a "person," and therefore proper defendants, under section 1983, see Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Hammond v. County of Madera, 859 F.2d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 1988), as a municipality it may be held liable under section 1983 only where the Plaintiff alleges facts to show that a constitutional deprivation was caused by the implementation or execution of "a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated" by the County. Monell, 436 U.S. at 690; Board of the County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 402-04 (1997); Navarro v. Block, 72 F.3d 712, 714 (9th Cir. 1995).

Here, Plaintiff has not stated a section 1983 claim against these Defendants because he has failed to allege that any individual County employee deprived him of a constitutional right pursuant to official municipal policy, custom or practice. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 690; Brown, 520 U.S. at 403. Thus, the claims against the County of Imperial and the County ...


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