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Simmons v. Grissom

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 23, 2014

CHRISTOPHER I. SIMMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
GRISSOM, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [ECF No. 67]

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Christopher I. Simmons is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

This action is proceeding against Defendants Grissom, Keiley, St. Lucia, Ellstrom and Does #1-10 (nurses) for deliberate indifference toward Plaintiff's "heat risk" condition, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, against Defendants Ellstrom, Rients, Sauceda, Akanno and Rufino for deliberate indifference arising from the deprivation of Plaintiff's pain medication, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and against Defendants Rients, Akanno, Sauceda, Rufino and Ellstrom for retaliation, in violation of the First Amendment.

On February 14, 2014, Defendants Akanno, Grissom, Rients and St. Lucia filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint.[1] Defendants Akanno, Grissom. St. Lucia and Rients move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the case because the suit against Defendants Akanno and Rients is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and because Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against Defendant Grissom. Plaintiff filed an opposition on April 11, 2014, and Defendants filed a reply on April 25, 2014.

Based on the reasoning explained below, Defendants motion to dismiss should be denied in its entirety.

I.

DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss 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); Sanders v. Brown , 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007); Schneider v. California Dept. of Corr. , 151 F.3d 1194, 1197 n.1 (9th Cir. 1998).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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; Sanders , 504 F.3d at 910; Morales v. City of Los Angeles , 214 F.3d 1151, 1153 (9th Cir. 2000), 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).

B. Res Judicata

"The Federal Full Faith and Credit statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1738, requires federal courts to give to a state-court judgment the same preclusive effect as would be given that judgment under the law of the State in which the judgment was rendered." Gonzales v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , 739 F.3d 1226, 1230 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. Of Educ. , 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984).)

Under the doctrine of claim preclusion, a final judgment forecloses "successive litigation of the very same claim, whether or not relitigation of the claim raises the same issues as the earlier suit." New Hampshire v. Maine , 532 U.S. 742, 748 (2001). Issue preclusion bars "successive litigation of an issue of fact or law actually litigated and resolved in a vale court determination essential to the prior judgment." Id. at 748-749.

"California courts employ the primary rights' theory to determine what constitutes the same cause of action for claim preclusion purposes." Gonzales v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation , 739 F.3d at 1232 (quoting Brodheim v. Cry , 584 F.3d 1262, 1268 (9th Cir. 2009).) A "cause of action' is comprised of a primary right' of the plaintiff, a corresponding primary duty' of the defendant, and a wrongful act by the defendant ...


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