UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
February 28, 2012
GRANT CHARLES RHODES, CDCR # V-60392
CALIFORNIA DEP'T OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge
(1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; AND
(2) DISMISSING ACTION FOR SEEKING MONETARY DAMAGES AGAINST DEFENDANTS WHO
ARE IMMUNE AND AS FRIVOLOUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b)
Plaintiff, a state inmate currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison in Imperial, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a
I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party's failure to pay only if the party is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007); Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). Prisoners granted leave to proceed IFP however, remain obligated to pay the entire fee in installments, regardless of whether the action is ultimately dismissed for any reason. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2).
The Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit which complies with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), and that he has attached a certified copy of his trust account statement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Plaintiff's trust account statement shows that he has insufficient funds from which to pay an initial partial filing fee.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP [ECF No. 2] and assesses no initial partial filing fee per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). However, the Court further orders the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") to garnish the entire $350 balance of the filing fees owed in this case, collect and forward them to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
II. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§§1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)
The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA")'s amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 also obligate 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)(B) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any prisoner civil action and all other IFP 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)); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 n.1 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A).
A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983
To state a claim under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that: (1) the conduct he complains of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that conduct violated a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).
B. Eleventh Amendment
First, to the extent Plaintiff seeks money damages against the only named Defendant, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), the Court finds the claims against this Defendant must be dismissed for failing to state a claim and for seeking damages against defendants who are immune pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) & (iii). The State of California, and the CDCR, an agency of the State of California, are not "persons" subject to suit under § 1983 and are instead, entitled to absolute immunity from monetary damages actions under the Eleventh Amendment. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 53-54 (1996); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984); see also Hale v. State of Arizona, 993 F.2d 1387, 1398-99 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that a state department of corrections is not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983). Therefore, Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against the CDCR are hereby dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) & (iii) without leave to amend.
C. Claim preclusion
Second, Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to sua sponte dismissal because it appears to be duplicative of a case Plaintiff has filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Monterey.
A court "may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue." United States ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992). See In re Grant Rhodes, Sup. Ct. Ca. County of Monterey, Case No. HC 6851.
"Res judicata, or claim preclusion prohibits lawsuits on 'any claims that were raised or could have been raised' in a prior action." Stewart v. U.S. Bancorp, 297 F.3d 953, 956 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001). Moreover, a prisoner's complaint is considered frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) if it "merely repeats pending or previously litigated claims." Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1105 n.2 (9th Cir. 1995) (construing former 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)) (citations and internal quotations omitted). Because Plaintiff is seeking the same forms of injunctive relief that he brought in the State Court action, the Court hereby DISMISSES Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief as both issue precluded and frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b)(1) without leave to amend.. See Cato, 70 F.3d at 1105 n.2; Resnick, 213 F.3d at 446 n.1.
Plaintiff's entire action is DISMISSED without prejudice for seeking monetary damages against an immune defendant and as frivolous. Plaintiff will be given the opportunity to file an Amended Complaint, however he may only allege claims for money damages against individual defendants. All claims for injunctive relief are dismissed from this action without leave to amend but without prejudice to Plaintiff to seek relief in his State Court action.
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Good cause appearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Plaintiff's Motion to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED.
2. The Secretary of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or his designee, shall collect from Plaintiff's prison trust account the $350 balance of the filing fee owed in this case by collecting monthly payments from the account in an amount equal to twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income and forward payments to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). ALL PAYMENTS SHALL BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED BY THE NAME AND NUMBER ASSIGNED TO THIS ACTION.
3. The Clerk of the Court is directed to serve a copy of this Order on Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S Street, Suite 502, Sacramento, California 95814.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that:
4. Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice as frivolous and for seeking money damages against an immune defendant pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(b). However, Plaintiff is GRANTED forty five (45) days leave from the date this Order is "Filed" in which to file a First Amended Complaint which cures all the deficiencies of pleading noted above. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint must be complete in itself without reference to the superseded pleading. See S.D. Cal. Civ. L. R. 15.1. Defendants not named and all claims not re-alleged in the Amended Complaint will be deemed to have been waived. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987).
5. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail Plaintiff a copy of a Court approved civil rights complaint form.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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