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Chavez v. County Jail of San Bernardino

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 8, 2015

MANUEL REYNA CHAVEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY JAIL OF SAN BERNARDINO ET. AL., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

This is a pro per inmate civil rights case. On December 17, 2014, Plaintiff Manuel Reyna Chavez ("Plaintiff") filed a first amended complaint ("FAC"). For the reasons that follow, the Court hereby orders it dismissed with leave to amend.

I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On November 18, 2014, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, lodged a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Complaint"). ECF 1-1. The Complaint alleged Plaintiff was the victim of excessive force committed by three individual defendant San Bernardino Sheriff Deputies - [FNU] Sanchez, [FNU] Reynoso, and [FNU] Ungureanu - while an inmate at the West Valley Detention Center. Id. at 3-5. The Complaint also named San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon who was alleged to be "the head sheriff of S.B.S.D. that's accountable, liable, and responsible for these 3 deputies' actions and misconduct." Id. at 3. The Complaint named all four defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Although not clear, the Complaint appeared to also name the County Jail of San Bernardino as a defendant. On November 21, 2014, the Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend. ECF 2. Among other things, the Court found the Complaint failed to state a claim against any entity defendant or any defendant in his official capacity, and failed to state a claim against Sheriff McMahon in his individual capacity, as well. Id. at 3-6. The Court, however, ordered dismissal with leave to amend. Id. at 6-7.

On December 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed the FAC. ECF 8. The FAC names seven defendants: (1) the County of San Bernardino, (2) San Bernardino County Jail, (3) the Head Sheriff of West Valley Detention Center, (4) Captain Jeff Rose of the San Bernardino County Jail, (5) Deputy Sanchez, (6) Deputy Reynoso, and (7) Deputy Ungureanu. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff alleges he was the victim of excessive force committed by Deputies Sanchez and Ungureanu while an inmate at the West Valley Detention Center in violation of his Eight Amendment rights. Id. at 1-6. All defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities. Id.

II.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 obligates the court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding in forma pauperis, and by all prisoners seeking redress from government entities. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. Under these provisions, the court may sua sponte dismiss, "at any time, " any prisoner civil rights action and all other in forma pauperis complaints that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek damages from defendants who are immune. Id., see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

The dismissal for failure to state a claim "can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In making such a determination, a complaint's allegations must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1990). Further, because Plaintiff is appearing pro se, the court must construe the allegations of the complaint liberally and must afford Plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). But the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Thus, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads enough factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

III.

DISCUSSION

A. The FAC Fails to State a Claim Against any Entity Defendant, or Any Defendant in His Official Capacity

Once again, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against any entity defendant ( i.e. the County of San Bernardino and San Bernardino County Jail), or any defendant in his official capacity. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an "official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity." Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985); see also Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-72, 105 S.Ct. 873, 83 L.Ed.2d 878 (1985); Larez v. City of Los Angeles, 946 F.2d 630, 646 (9th Cir. 1991). Such a suit "is not a suit against the official personally, for the real party in interest is the entity." Graham, 473 U.S. at 166. Moreover, a local government entity "may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents. Instead, it is only when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or ...


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