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Kawamoto v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 31, 2014

DARREN KAWAMOTO, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 22) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN FOURTEEN (14) DAYS

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Darren Kawamoto, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 on August 8, 2011. (ECF No. 1.) This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's original complaint, which asserts claims based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act (RA), and the Fourteenth Amendment. (ECF No. 8.)

The Defendants moved to dismiss this action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (ECF No. 22.) Plaintiff filed an opposition (ECF No. 28) and Defendants replied (ECF No. 29). The motion to dismiss is deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a claim, and dismissal is proper if there is a lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar , 646 F.3d 1240, 1241-42 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citations omitted), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1762 (2012). In resolving a 12(b)(6) motion, a court's review is generally limited to the operative pleading. Daniels-Hall v. National Educ. Ass'n , 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (quotation marks omitted); Conservation Force , 646 F.3d at 1242; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The Court must accept the factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, Daniels-Hall , 629 F.3d at 998, and in this Circuit, pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman , 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012); Watison v. Carter , 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); Silva v. Di Vittorio , 658 F.3d 1090, 1101 (9th Cir. 2011); Hebbe v. Pliler , 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

III. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Plaintiff's medical conditions confine him to a wheelchair. On February 5, 2011, Plaintiff attempted to participate in a game of horseshoes on the yard at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF). The area leading to the horseshoe pits is soft dirt and as Plaintiff wheeled himself towards the game his wheels became stuck. Another inmate tried to assist Plaintiff but the wheels sank deeper. Plaintiff fell out of his chair trying to cross the dirt. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 3.)

Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal requesting that accommodations be made for disabled access to the horseshoe pits. (Id. at 12.) Defendants Lines and Prud'Homme provided the first level response. The Defendants granted Plaintiff's request but stated that completion of any accommodation was subject to available funding. (Id. at 20.) Plaintiff pursued his appeal to the second level. Defendant Heck investigated the appeal and told Plaintiff that there were alternatives available such as: board and card games, pull-up bars, dip bars, softball toss, Frisbee toss, and free throw contests. (Id. at 5.) Defendant Allison affirmed the first level response and reiterated the availability of alternatives. (Id. at 21.) Defendants Sullivan and Foston reviewed Plaintiff's appeal at the final administrative level and determined that Plaintiff's request was handled properly. (Id. at 23, 24.)

Since Plaintiff filed his inmate appeal, gravel was poured around a dirt track to reduce the risk of able bodied inmates spraining their ankles as they run. (Id. at 5.) However, the Defendants have made no effort to secure Plaintiff's requested accommodations. (Id. at 6.)

IV. ARGUMENTS

A. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Defendants move to dismiss this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Complaint seeks damages and an injunction requiring that the horseshoe pit at CSATF be made wheelchair accessible. Defendants argue that the injunctive relief requested is moot because Plaintiff is no longer housed at CSATF. (ECF No. 22-1 at 3.) The motion also argues that Plaintiff is barred from seeking equitable relief because ...


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