Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Robertson v. Matteuci

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 19, 2015



WILLIAM H. ORRICK, District Judge.

Plaintiff Randy Robertson's first federal civil rights complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. He filed a first and then a second amended complaint, which is now the operative complaint in this action. The second amended complaint, which contains allegations of retaliation and unconstitutional conditions of confinement, is now before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

Having concluded that the second amended complaint (Docket No. 17) states cognizable claims, the Court directs defendants to file in response to the operative complaint a dispositive motion, or notice regarding such motion, on or before June 15, 2015, unless an extension is granted. The Court further directs that defendants are to adhere to the notice provisions detailed in Sections 2.a and 10 of the conclusion of this order.


A. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court "is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged." Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Legal Claims

Plaintiff Robertson alleges that (1) in 2011, Dolly Matteuci, Executive Director of Napa State Hospital ("NSH"), transferred him from NSH to a prison (and opposed his transfer back to NSH in 2014) in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right of access to the courts; and (2) in 2014, David Livingston, Sheriff of Contra Costa County, retaliated against him by housing him in unconstitutional conditions in the Contra Costa Jail.

Claim 1, when liberally construed, is cognizable under section 1983 and shall proceed. Claim 2 is DISMISSED without prejudice to Robertson filing it in a separate civil rights action. Because the claim involves different causes of action against different defendants, it must be brought in a separate action. A blank civil rights complaint form will be sent to Robertson.


Robertson moves for the appointment of counsel (Docket No. 20). The decision to request counsel to represent an indigent litigant under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is within "the sound discretion of the trial court and is granted only in exceptional circumstances." Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1236 (9th Cir. 1984). A finding of "exceptional circumstances" requires an evaluation of the likelihood of the plaintiff's success on the merits and an evaluation of the plaintiff's ability to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved. See Agyeman v. Corrections Corp. of America, 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004). Neither the need for discovery, nor the fact that the pro se litigant would be better served with the assistance of counsel, necessarily qualify the issues involved as complex. See Rand v. Rowland, 113 F.3d 1520, 1525 (9th Cir. 1997). It is too early in the litigation of this matter to determine whether counsel should be appointed. When the record is more fully developed, the Court will decide on its own motion whether to appoint counsel. Accordingly, Robertson's motion is DENIED.


For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows:

1. The Clerk of the Court shall issue summons and the United States Marshal shall serve, without prepayment of fees, a copy of the operative complaint in this matter (Docket No. 17), all attachments thereto, and a copy of this order upon Dolly Matteuci, Executive Director at Napa State Hospital. The Clerk shall also mail courtesy copies of the operative complaint and this order to the California Attorney General's Office.

2. No later than ninety (90) days from the date of this order, defendants shall file a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive motion with respect to the claims in the complaint found to be cognizable above.

a. If defendants elect to file a motion to dismiss on the grounds plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), defendants shall do so in a motion for summary judgment, as required by Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2014).

b. Any motion for summary judgment shall be supported by adequate factual documentation and shall conform in all respects to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants are advised that summary judgment cannot be granted, nor qualified immunity found, if material facts are in dispute. If any defendant is of the opinion that this case cannot be resolved by summary judgment, he shall so inform the Court prior to the date the summary judgment motion is due.

3. Plaintiff's opposition to the dispositive motion shall be filed with the Court and served on defendants no later than forty-five (45) days from the date defendants' motion is filed.

4. Defendants shall file a reply brief no later than fifteen (15) days after plaintiff's opposition is filed.

5. The motion shall be deemed submitted as of the date the reply brief is due. No hearing will be held on the motion unless the Court so orders at a later date.

6. All communications by the plaintiff with the Court must be served on defendants, or defendants' counsel once counsel has been designated, by mailing a true copy of the document to defendants or defendants' counsel.

7. Discovery may be taken in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No further court order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2) or Local Rule 16-1 is required before the parties may conduct discovery.

8. It is plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the court informed of any change of address and must comply with the court's orders in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

9. Extensions of time must be filed no later than the deadline sought to be extended and must be accompanied by a showing of good cause.

10. A decision from the Ninth Circuit requires that pro se prisoner-plaintiffs be given "notice of what is required of them in order to oppose" summary judgment motions at the time of filing of the motions, rather than when the court orders service of process or otherwise before the motions are filed. Woods v. Carey, 684 F.3d 934, 939-41 (9th Cir. 2012). Defendants shall provide the following notice to plaintiff when they file and serve any motion for summary judgment:

The defendants have made a motion for summary judgment by which they seek to have your case dismissed. A motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will, if granted, end your case.
Rule 56 tells you what you must do in order to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Generally, summary judgment must be granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact - that is, if there is no real dispute about any fact that would affect the result of your case, the party who asked for summary judgment is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, which will end your case. When a party you are suing makes a motion for summary judgment that is properly supported by declarations (or other sworn testimony), you cannot simply rely on what your complaint says. Instead, you must set out specific facts in declarations, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or authenticated documents, as provided in Rule 56(e), that contradict the facts shown in the defendants' declarations and documents and show that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. If you do not submit your own evidence in opposition, summary judgment, if appropriate, may be entered against you. If summary judgment is granted, your case will be dismissed and there will be no trial. Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 962-63 (9th Cir. 1998).
11. The Clerk shall terminate Docket No. 20.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.