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McMillan v. Sniff

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 4, 2015

LAWRENCE McMILLAN,
v.
SHERIFF STANLEY SNIFF, et al.

(IN CHAMBERS) ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

On December 12, 2014, Plaintiff Lawrence L. McMillan, a California state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Fourth Amended Complaint ("FAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, suing Riverside County and its Sheriff, Stanley Sniff. On December 31, 2014, Defendant Sniff filed a Motion to Dismiss ("Motion") all claims against him. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is denied without prejudice.

I.

BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

The FAC challenges the conditions of confinement while Plaintiff was held at Robert Presley Detention Center ("RPDC") in Riverside, California, from January 24, 2014, through January 27, 2014.[1] ECF No. 38 at 2-3. Plaintiff alleges that, due to overcrowding at RPDC, he did not have a bed and was forced to lie on the facility's concrete floor. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges the conditions at RPDC violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and California tort law, and he requests damages. Id. at 6, 9.

Plaintiff names two defendants. Plaintiff sues Riverside County, which Plaintiff alleges is liable as the "official policy maker[] for" RPDC. Id. at 3. Plaintiff also sues Stanley Sniff, the Sheriff of Riverside County, in his individual capacity. Id . Plaintiff alleges Defendant Sniff is liable as a supervisor because (1) he is responsible under California law "for operating jails in Riverside County"; (2) he knew the County had a duty to provide proper bedding to inmates; and (3) he failed to train, supervise, and control custodial personnel to ensure inmates had appropriate bedding, thus causing Plaintiff's injury. Id. at 3, 8-9.

B. Motion to Dismiss

On December 31, 2014, Defendant Sniff filed the instant Motion. Defendant Sniff argues Plaintiff's claims against him should be dismissed because Plaintiff "pleads no facts to show Sniff had any personal involvement whatsoever in Plaintiff's confinement." ECF No. 40 at 5. Rather, Defendant Sniff argues, Plaintiff "merely pleads that Sniff is liable because he is the highest-ranking official in the Sheriff's Department and therefore is responsible for the jails." Id . Defendant Sniff argues Plaintiff's "broad, conclusory assertions that Sniff is liable because he was in charge of the jails" are "not enough" to state a claim. Id. at 7.

On January 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the Motion ("Opposition"). On January 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed a request for judicial notice, asking the Court to consider, in deciding Defendant Sniff's Motion, a stipulated permanent injunction ("Stipulation") filed in this District on December 3, 1993, in Castro v. Riverside County, Case No. 8:93-808-AHS-RWR. ECF No. 48 at 2. In the Stipulation, Riverside County and its Sheriff at the time, Cois Byrd, agreed to a permanent injunction not to bed "inmates on the floor in any jail facility." Id. at 6. The Stipulation also outlined the following procedures "to comply with" the permanent injunction: "The Sheriff shall release inmates or refuse to accept arrestees whenever all beds in the Riverside County Jail system are filled, or whenever any jail or any specific housing unit within the Riverside County Jail is filled, and may release inmates or refuse to accept arrestees when any jail or specific housing unit is within 10% of all its beds being filled." Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Sniff "breached compliance with" the procedures outlined in the Stipulation. Id. at 3.

On January 28, 2015, the Court granted Plaintiff's request for judicial notice.[2] In granting the request, the Court invited Defendant Sniff to address the significance of the Stipulation in his Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition ("Reply"). ECF No. 49 at 1.

On February 11, 2015, Defendant Sniff filed a Reply, arguing Plaintiff "failed to plead sufficient facts showing Sniff's involvement whatsoever in the decision making process regarding Plaintiff; knew of the alleged violations and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or implemented" an unconstitutional policy. ECF No. 50 at 2. Defendant Sniff argues the Stipulation is "wholly irrelevant" to his Motion to Dismiss because "there is nothing in the Stipulation to show that Sheriff Sniff had any personal involvement in Plaintiff's alleged incident." Id. at 3 (emphasis in original). Defendant Sniff notes the Stipulation "was entered into in 1993, well before Sheriff Sniff was the sheriff." Id . Defendant Sniff also argues the Stipulation "does not, per se, prove a constitutional violation" occurred in this case. Id.

II.

LEGAL ...


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