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Hooker v. Simon

September 3, 2010



Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 24). This case arises from the treatment of Plaintiff while in custody at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF). Plaintiff claims that the Defendants violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts and seeks injunctive relief. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants the Defendants' Motion.

I. Background

Plaintiff is dyslexic, a slow reader, and spells at a fourth-grade level. On January 15, 2004, Plaintiff was given access to special equipment in the CSATF's library to accommodate his disability, including a computer with spell check and grammar check. In September of that year, after the Defendants found out that Plaintiff was going to file a lawsuit about the confiscation of his typewriter the year before, Defendants revoked Plaintiff's special accommodations and did not allow Plaintiff to use the library computer. In December of 2004, Defendant Simon suggested to Plaintiff that he purchase another typewriter that he could bring to the library to do his work. On April 21, 2005, two months after Defendants Adams and Woodford had been served in Hooker v. Adams (1:04-cv-06584), Defendant Simon instructed the librarian not to allow any inmates to bring in personal typewriters to the library. The prohibition applied to all inmates in the facility.

Plaintiff claims that Defendants discriminated against him under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA) by denying him access to a computer and typewriter.

II. Legal Standard

After the parties have filed their pleadings, either party may move for judgment on the pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). Rule 12(c) motions are meant to dispose of cases when there are no disputed material facts and a judgment on the merits "can be achieved by focusing on the content of the competing pleadings, exhibits thereto, matters incorporated by reference in the pleadings, whatever is central or integral to the claim for relief or defense, and any facts of which the district court will take judicial notice."5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1367 (3d ed. 1998). Typically, when the moving party includes in a Rule 12(c) motion matters outside the pleadings and the Court reviews those matters, the motion is treated as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However, a court may consider documents that are "attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice--without converting the motion . . . into a motion for summary judgment." United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003); see 5 Wright & Miller, § 1367.

Courts may take judicial notice of facts that are "not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). Indeed, a court must take judicial notice of facts when a party requests judicial notice and provides the relevant information to do so. Fed. R. Evid. 201(d). Judicial opinions are subject to judicial notice under Rule 201(b). See Holder v. Holder, 305 F.3d 854, 866 (9th Cir. 2002).

III. Discussion

The Defendants argue that Hooker's claims are precluded by res judicata in light of Armstrong, et al. v. Davis, et al., a class action involving all then-present and future state prisoners with certain disabilities. 942 F.Supp. 1252 (N.D.Cal. 1996). The Armstrong order included a remedial plan and permanent injunction. See Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Motion), Exs. 2 & 3.

Res judicata, or claim preclusion, performs a specific and important role in the judicial system, not the least of which is conserving judicial resources by avoiding excessive or duplicative litigation. See In re Schimmels, 127 F.3d 875, 881 (9th Cir. 1997). Res judicata applies "whenever there is (1) an identity of claims, (2) a final judgment on the merits, and (3) privity between parties." Stratosphere Litig. L.L.C. v. Grand Casinos, Inc., 298 F.3d 1137, 1143 n.3 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001)). The Court considers each of these elements in turn.

A. Identity of Claims

An "identity of claims" arises when two suits have "the same transactional nucleus of facts." Owens, 244 F.3d at 714. A current claim is within the same nucleus of facts as a prior claim if the current claim could have been brought in the earlier action. United States ex rel. Barajas v. Northrop Corp., 147 F.3d 905, 909 (9th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).

In this case, Hooker's claim of discrimination under the ADA and the RA related to library equipment and reasonable accommodation was raised and dealt with in the Armstrong class action. See Motion, Ex. 2 at 21. Hooker's claim is squarely aligned with the claims ...

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