UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
October 3, 2011
DARREL L. SMITH, CDCR #J-08807, PLAINTIFF,
TIEN, DETECTIVE, SAN DIEGO POLICE; WILLIAM GORE, L. COLON; SANCHEZ; UNKNOWN OFFICERS 1 THROUGH 4 DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge
ORDER SUA SPONTE DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) AND § 1915A(b)
I. Procedural History
On February 28, 2011, Darrel L. Smith ("Plaintiff"), currently housed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility located in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with two separate Motions to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court granted Plaintiff's Motions to Proceed IFP and sua sponte dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). See June 10, 2011 Order at 6-7. Plaintiff was granted leave to file an Amended Complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified by the Court. Id. On July 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC").
II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)
As the Court noted in its previous Order, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") requires the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions of the PLRA, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
"[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)"). In addition, courts "have an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)). The court may not, however, "supply essential elements of claims that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). "Vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss." Id.
In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages from San Diego Police Officers for "inappropriate practice of law in a buy bust operation." (FAC at 2.) It appears that Plaintiff is claiming that he was used by San Diego Police Officers in an undercover operation to purchase drugs and as a result, Plaintiff was convicted of a crime. (Id.)
"In any § 1983 action, the first question is whether § 1983 is the appropriate avenue to remedy the alleged wrong." Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1353 (9th Cir. 1985) (en banc). A prisoner in state custody simply may not use a § 1983 civil rights action to challenge the "fact or duration of his confinement." Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 489 (1973). The prisoner must seek federal habeas corpus relief instead. Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78 (2005) (quoting Preiser, 411 U.S. at 489). Thus, Plaintiff's § 1983 action "is barred (absent prior invalidation)-- no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of his suit (state conduct leading to conviction or internal prison proceedings)--if success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration." Wilkinson, 544 U.S. at 82.
In this case, Plaintiff's claims "necessarily imply the invalidity" of his criminal conviction. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. In creating a favorable termination rule in Heck, the Supreme Court relied on "the hoary principle that civil tort actions are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding criminal judgments." Heck, 511 U.S. at 486. This is precisely what Plaintiff attempts to accomplish here. Therefore, to satisfy Heck's "favorable termination" rule, Plaintiff must first allege facts which show that the conviction which forms the basis of his § 1983 Complaint has already been: (1) reversed on direct appeal; (2) expunged by executive order; (3) declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination; or (4) called into question by the grant of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487 (emphasis added); see also Butterfield v. Bail, 120 F.3d 1023, 1025 (9th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff has alleged no facts sufficient to satisfy Heck. Thus, Plaintiff's claims for money damages that arise from his arrest are barred by Heck. See, e.g., Guerrero v. Gates, 442 F.3d 697, 703 (9th Cir. 2006) ( Heck barred plaintiff's civil rights claims alleging wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and conspiracy among police officers to bring false charges against him);
Cabrera v. City of Huntington Park, 159 F.3d 374, 380 (9th Cir. 1998) (holding that Heck barred plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claims until conviction was invalidated); Smithart v. Towery, 79 F.3d 951, 952 (9th Cir. 1996) (Heck barred plaintiff's civil rights claims alleging that defendants lacked probable cause to arrest him and brought unfounded criminal charges against him).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's § 1983 claims challenge the constitutional validity of his arrest and current term of confinement and must be dismissed without prejudice. See Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 585 (9th Cir. 1995) (finding that an action barred by Heck has not yet accrued and thus, must be dismissed without prejudice so that the plaintiff may reassert his § 1983 claims if he ever succeeds in invalidating the underlying conviction or sentence); accord Blueford v. Prunty, 108 F.3d 251, 255 (9th Cir. 1997).
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Good cause appearing therefor, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [ECF No. 11] is DISMISSED without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(b). The Court finds further amendment would be futile. See Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 339 (9th Cir. 1996) (denial of a leave to amend is not an abuse of discretion where further amendment would be futile); see also Robinson v. California Bd. of Prison Terms, 997 F. Supp. 1303, 1308 (C.D. Cal. 1998) ("Since plaintiff has not, and cannot, state a claim containing an arguable basis in law, this action should be dismissed without leave to amend; any amendment would be futile.") (citing Newland v. Dalton, 81 F.3d 904, 907 (9th Cir. 1996)).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
© 1992-2011 VersusLaw Inc.