United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS ACTION AS BARRED BY RES JUDICATA
JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff, Irving Charles Humphrey, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action on August 5, 2014. (Doc. 1.) This action is before the Court for screening.
II. Screening Requirement
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).
III. Summary of the Complaint
Plaintiff complains of acts that occurred while he was housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"), though he is currently housed at San Quentin State Prison. Plaintiff names the following Defendants in this action: Chief Medical Officer ("CMO") Felix Igbinsoa; Warden James Yates; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") Director Matthew Cate; Classification Service Representative ("CSR") T. Wardlow; Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; and various Does. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for contracting Valley Fever. Specifically, Plaintiff states that back in 2008, he filed an action in state court under section 1983, for contracting Valley Fever in 2005, which was removed to this Court and was the subject of case Humphrey v. Yates, 1:09-cv-00075-LJO-DLB (" Humphrey I "). (Doc. 1, 7:1-7.) On appeal, summary judgment for the defense in that action was affirmed. ( Id., see also 1:09-cv-0075-LJO-JLT, Docs. 77-80.) Plaintiff alleges that he has "newly discovered evidence" to prove the claims that he raised in Humphrey I and that he seeks to have the case at bar, Humphrey v. Yates, et al., 1:14-cv-01787-LJO-JLT (" Humphrey II "), relate back to Humphrey I. ( Id., at 7:1-9:6.) For the reasons set forth below, this matter must be dismissed with prejudice.
A. Claim Preclusion - Res Judicata
Claim preclusion bars litigation of claims that were or could have been raised in a prior action, Holcombe v. Hosmer, 477 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks omitted), and it "requires three things: (1) identity of claims; (2) a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the same parties, or privity between parties, " Harris v. County of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Cell Therapeutics, Inc. v. Lash Grp., Inc., 586 F.3d 1204, 1212 (9th Cir. 2010)).
In deciding whether there is an identity of claims, courts are to apply four criteria: "(1) whether rights or interests established in the prior judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the second action; (2) whether substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions; (3) whether the two suits involve infringement of the same right; and (4) whether the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts.'" Harris, 682 F.3d at 1132 (quoting United States v. Liquidators of European Fed. Credit Bank, 630 F.3d 1139, 1150 (9th Cir. 2011)). "The fourth criterion - the same transactional nucleus of facts - is the most important." Liquidators of European Fed. Credit Bank, 630 F.3d at 1151.
Plaintiff specifically states that he filed Humphrey II to pursue the claims that he raised in Humphrey I because he has "newly discovered evidence" that he believes is sufficient to now prove his claims from Humphrey I in Humphrey II. Plaintiff's claims in both actions involve the same transactional nucleus of facts and are in fact, identical: that prior to being moved to PVSP, he had brain surgery for a brain tumor and surgical removal of the lower lobe of his right lung for cancer; that he is of African-American descent; that after being moved to PVSP, he contracted Valley Fever; and that he should not have been moved to PVSP because it was known that he was susceptible to contracting Valley Fever. Humphrey I was resolved via summary judgment which is a final judgment on the merits of the claims resolved therein. See Hells Canyon Preservation Council v. U.S. Forest Service, 403 F.3d 683, 686 (2005).
Finally, Plaintiff named Warden James Yates in both actions and added CMO Felix Igbinosa, CDCR Director Mathew Cate, T. Wardlow, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Defendants in Humphrey II. Certainly Plaintiff is precluded from bring the same claim against Warden Yates in Humphrey II. The question thus becomes whether ...