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Mallory v. Gore

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 31, 2013

LARRY GLENN MALLORY, Inmate Booking No. 12527706, Plaintiff,


IRMA E. GONZALEZ, District Judge.

Procedural History


On February 1, 2013, Larry Mallory ("Plaintiff"), an inmate currently housed at the George Bailey Detention Facility located in San Diego, California, and proceeding in pro se, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 2, 2013, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP"), but sua sponte dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). See April 2, 2013 Order [ECF No. 10] at 7-8. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified. Id. Plaintiff was specifically cautioned that any Defendant not re-named and any claim not re-alleged in his Amended Complaint would be considered waived. Id. (citing King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987)).

On April 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. [ECF No. 12.] However, before the Court could conduct the required sua sponte screening, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") [ECF No. 19] which omits previously named Defendants San Diego County Attorney and GBDF. Thus, Plaintiff claims against these Defendants are waived the and the Clerk of Court is directed to terminate these Defendants from the docket.

II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)

As discussed in the Court's previous Orders, because Plaintiff is proceeding IFP and is a "prisoner" as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), the Court must now review his Amended Complaint sua sponte before service, and dismiss the entire action, or any part of his Amended Complaint, if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks 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) (noting that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) "not only permits but requires" the court to sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A).

Before amendment by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), the former 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) permitted sua sponte dismissal of only frivolous and malicious claims. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126, 1130. An action is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A mandate that the court reviewing an IFP or prisoner's suit make and rule on its own motion to dismiss before effecting service of the Complaint by the U.S. Marshal pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(3). See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127; see also McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604-05 (6th Cir. 1997) (stating that sua sponte screening pursuant to § 1915 should occur "before service of process is made on the opposing parties"); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A).

"[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, 213 F.3d at 447; Barren, 152 F.3d at 1194 (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)"); Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). In addition, the Court has a duty to liberally construe a pro se's pleadings, see Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988), which is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992). In giving liberal interpretation to a pro se civil rights complaint, however, the court may not "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).

A. Respondeat Superior

It appears that Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendant Gore liable in his supervisory capacity. However, 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).

Supervisory prison officials may only be held liable for the allegedly unconstitutional violations of a subordinate if Plaintiff sets forth allegations which show: (1) how or to what extent they personally participated in or directed a subordinate's actions, and (2) in either acting or failing to act, they were an actual and proximate cause of the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). As currently pleaded, however, Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint fails to set forth facts which might be liberally construed to support an individualized constitutional claim against Defendant Gore. Thus, Defendant Gore is DISMISSED from this action for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

B. Fourteenth Amendment claims

Plaintiff alleges Defendant Madsen has not adequately responded to his administrative grievances in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that: "[n]o state shall... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1. "The requirements of procedural due process apply only to the deprivation of interests encompassed by the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of liberty and property." Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569 (1972). State statutes and prison regulations may grant prisoners liberty or property interests sufficient to invoke due process protection. Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 223-27 (1976). To state a procedural due process claim, Plaintiff must allege: "(1) a liberty or property interest protected by the Constitution; (2) a deprivation of the interest by the government; [and] (3) lack of process." Wright v. Riveland, 219 F.3d 905, 913 (9th Cir. 2000).

However, the Ninth Circuit has held that prisoners have no protected property interest in an inmate grievance procedure arising directly from the Due Process Clause. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 869 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[I]nmates lack a separate constitutional entitlement to a specific prison grievance procedure") (citing Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1988) (finding that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment creates "no legitimate claim of entitlement to a [prison] grievance procedure")); accord Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) (1995); Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).

In addition, Plaintiff has failed to plead facts sufficient to show that prison official deprived him of a protected liberty interest by allegedly failing to respond to his prison grievances in a satisfactory manner. While a liberty interest can arise from state law or prison regulations, Meachum, 427 U.S. at 223-27, due process protections are implicated only if Plaintiff alleges facts to show that Defendants: (1) restrained his freedom in a manner not expected from his sentence, and (2) "impose[d] atypical and significant hardship on [him] in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995); Neal v. Shimoda, 131 F.3d 818, 827-28 (9th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff pleads nothing to suggest how the allegedly inadequate review and consideration of his inmate grievances resulted in an "atypical" and "significant hardship." Sandin, 515 U.S. at 483-84. Thus, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claims and Defendant Madsen for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

C. Monell liability

Plaintiff also, once again, names the County of San Diego as a Defendant. "[A] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor - or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory." Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). A municipality may be liable under § 1983 for monetary, declaratory, or injunctive relief where the constitutional deprivation was caused by the implementation or execution of "a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers." Monell, 436 U.S. at 690; Board of the County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 117 S.Ct. 1382, 1388 (1997); Navarro v. Block, 72 F.3d 712, 714 (9th Cir. 1995).

To establish municipal liability, plaintiff must show: (1) he was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) the city had a policy; (3) the policy amounted to deliberate indifference to plaintiff's constitutional right; and (4) the policy was the "moving force behind the constitutional violation." Van Ort v. Estate of Stanewich, 92 F.3d 831, 835 (9th Cir. 1996); see Board of the County Commissioners v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 117 S.Ct. at 1388; Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 1996). Thus, in order to state a § 1983 claim against the City or County of San Diego, Plaintiff must allege facts showing that his injury was caused by individual officers whose conduct conformed to an official city policy, custom or practice. See Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 624. Plaintiff has failed to allege any such facts and thus, the Court dismisses the claims against the County of San Diego for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

D. Remaining claims

The Court finds that the remaining Eighth Amendment[1] and First Amendment retaliation claims found in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint are now sufficiently pleaded to survive the sua sponte screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Therefore, the Court will direct U.S. Marshal service on his behalf. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126-27; 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) ("The officers of the court shall issue and serve all process, and perform all duties in [IFP] cases."); FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(3) ("[T]he court may order that service be made by a United States marshal or deputy marshal... if the plaintiff is authorized to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915."). Plaintiff is cautioned, however, that "the sua sponte screening and dismissal procedure is cumulative of, and not a substitute for, any subsequent Rule 12(b)(6) motion that [a defendant] may choose to bring." Teahan v. Wilhelm, 481 F.Supp.2d 1115, 1119 (S.D. Cal. 2007).


Good cause appearing therefor, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants San Diego County Attorney and GBDF are DISMISSED without prejudice. See King, 814 F.2d at 567. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate these Defendants from the docket.

2. Defendants Gore, Madsen and San Diego County are DISMISSED from this action for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate these Defendants from the docket.


3. The Clerk shall issue a summons as to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 19] upon Defendants Yarling, Baker and White, and shall forward it to Plaintiff along with a blank U.S. Marshal Form 285 for each of these Defendants. In addition, the Clerk shall provide Plaintiff with a copy of this Order, the Court's April 2, 2013 Order granting Plaintiff leave to proceed IFP [ECF No. 10], and copies of his Second Amended Complaint and the summons for purposes of serving each Defendant. Upon receipt of this "IFP Package, " Plaintiff is directed to complete the Form 285s as completely and accurately as possible, and to return them to the U.S. Marshal according to the instructions provided by the Clerk in the letter accompanying his IFP package. Thereafter, the U.S. Marshal shall serve a copy of the Second Amended Complaint and summons upon each Defendant as directed by Plaintiff on each Form 285. All costs of service shall be advanced by the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(3).

4. Defendants are thereafter ORDERED to reply to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint within the time provided by the applicable provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(a). See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2) (while Defendants may occasionally be permitted to "waive the right to reply to any action brought by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility under section 1983, " once the Court has conducted its sua sponte screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b), and thus, has made a preliminary determination based on the face on the pleading alone that Plaintiff has a "reasonable opportunity to prevail on the merits, " Defendants are required to respond).

5. Plaintiff shall serve upon Defendants or, if appearance has been entered by counsel, upon Defendants' counsel, a copy of every further pleading or other document submitted for consideration of the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the original paper to be filed with the Clerk of the Court a certificate stating the manner in which a true and correct copy of any document was served on Defendants, or counsel for Defendants, and the date of service. Any paper received by the Court which has not been filed with the Clerk or which fails to include a Certificate of Service will be disregarded.

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