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Morgan v. Haviland

November 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge


I. Introduction

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel with an action brought pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Pending before the court is the motion to dismiss brought by defendant California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). After carefully considering the record, the undersigned recommends that defendant's motion be granted in part and denied in part.

II. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings set forth in the complaint. Vega v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 654 F. Supp. 2d 1104, 1109 (E.D. Cal. 2009). Under the "notice pleading" standard of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff's complaint must provide, in part, a "short and plain statement" of plaintiff's claims showing entitlement to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); see also Paulsen v. CNF, Inc., 559 F.3d 1061, 1071 (9th Cir. 2009). "A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss if, taking all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). "'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.'" Caviness v. Horizon Cmty. Learning Ctr., Inc., 590 F.3d 806, 812 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). The court accepts "all facts alleged as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." County of Santa Clara v. Astra USA, Inc., 588 F.3d 1237, 1241 n.1 (9th Cir. 2009). The court is "not, however, required to accept as true conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint, and [the court does] not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Paulsen, 559 F.3d at 1071 (citations and quotation marks omitted). The court must construe a pro se pleading liberally to determine if it states a claim and, prior to dismissal, tell a plaintiff of deficiencies in his complaint and give plaintiff an opportunity to cure them if it appears at all possible that the plaintiff can correct the defects. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000).

In ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court "may generally consider only allegations contained in the pleadings, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters properly subject to judicial notice." Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 506 F.3d 895, 899 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). However, under the "incorporation by reference" doctrine, a court may also review documents "whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the [plaintiff's] pleading." Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted and modification in original). The incorporation by reference doctrine also applies "to situations in which the plaintiff's claim depends on the contents of a document, the defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, and the parties do not dispute the authenticity of the document, even though the plaintiff does not explicitly allege the contents of that document in the complaint." Id.

III. Discussion

This action is proceeding on the original complaint filed August 5, 2009. Plaintiff is housed at California State Prison-Solano. Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Plaintiff takes antipsychotic medication. Plaintiff alleges that when the temperature outside exceeds ninety degrees, plaintiff is locked in his cell. Plaintiff also alleges that other inmates are allowed to remain on the yard, at work or in the day room when the temperature reaches ninety degrees. Plaintiff alleges that he will receive a prison disciplinary if he does not comply with the order to go to his cell. Plaintiff claims that his placement in his cell when the temperature reaches ninety degrees outside violates the ADA. Plaintiff seeks money damages and injunctive relief.

Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief because he is a member of the class in Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, No. S-90-520 JFM LKK P. A plaintiff who is a member of a class action for equitable relief from prison conditions may not maintain a separate, individual suit for equitable relief involving the same subject matter of the class action. See Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 892-93 (9th Cir. 1979); see also McNeil v. Guthrie, 945 F.2d 1163, 1165 (10th Cir. 1991) ("Individual suits for injunctive and equitable relief from alleged unconstitutional prison conditions cannot be brought where there is an existing class action."); Gillespie v. Crawford, 858 F.2d 1101, 1103 (5th Cir. 1988) (en banc) ("To allow individual suits would interfere with the orderly administration of the class action and risk inconsistent adjudications.").

The Coleman class includes all inmates with serious mental disorders who are or will be confined within the CDCR. (Defendant's Exhibits A, D, E.*fn1 ) Inmates suffering from serious mental disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who do not have the ability to function without psychiatric intervention, including psychotropic medication, are included in the class. Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F.Supp.1282, 1300 n.15-16 (E.D. Cal. 1995). The undersigned agrees that plaintiff is a member of the Coleman class.

Defendant argues that defendant CDCR's "heat plan," of which plaintiff complains in this action, is under the jurisdiction of the court addressing the Coleman litigation. Defendant states that in 1992, the district court issued the Coleman heat plan injunction. In particular, a subclass of Coleman plaintiffs, "heat risk inmates" who were prescribed psychotropic drugs, were granted an injunction. (Defendants' Exhibit F.) Pursuant to this injunction, if the temperature exceeds ninety degrees outside of the facility, heat risk inmates "will be afforded the opportunity to return to their housing unit in order to take precautions to mitigate any potential heat related illness." (Id., at 9 of 28.) "The inmate will be afforded a ducat ... so that institution employees are aware of the ability of the inmate to return to this housing facility during such an event." (Id.) If the heat risk inmate is classified as "CAT J," these inmates shall be ordered to return to their housing facility.*fn2 (Id., at 9-10.)

In his opposition, plaintiff argues that defendants are not complying with the Coleman heat plan because heat risk inmates are required to be locked in their cells or else face a disciplinary infraction if the temperature outside exceeds ninety degrees. Plaintiff argues that under the terms of the Coleman heat plan, heat risk inmates are to be given the opportunity to be returned to their housing units, which includes the day room.

After reviewing all of the pleadings, it appears that plaintiff is seeking enforcement of the portion of the Coleman heat plan that grants heat risk inmates the opportunity to remain on the yard or else return to their housing units.

Plaintiff's claim that defendant has failed to comply with the terms of the Coleman heat plan involves the same subject matter of the Coleman class action. In addition, while plaintiff's action is brought pursuant to the ADA and Coleman is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, both actions involve the same subject matter. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief should be granted. Because plaintiff seeks ...

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