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Chavez v. Orozco

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 8, 2015

MANUEL REYNA CHAVEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
GERALDO OROZCO, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

I.

INTRODUCTION

On October 28, 2014, Manuel Reyna Chavez ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Civil Rights Complaint in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF Docket No. ("dkt.") 3. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleged he was beaten by San Bernardino City Police Officers Geraldo Orozco, Mark Blackwell and Nick Martin, in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Compl. at 5. The Complaint sued Orozco, Blackwell, and Martin in their individual and official capacities and also appeared to sue the San Bernardino City Police Department.[1] Id. at 1, 3. On October 29, 2014, the Court issued an Order Dismissing the Complaint with Leave to Amend, finding Plaintiff had failed to state viable official capacity claims against the three individual defendants and any claim against the San Bernardino City Police Department. Dkt. 5. The Court reasoned the Complaint had not alleged any of the defendants acted pursuant to an unconstitutional policy or custom, as required for stating such claims. Id. at 5.

On December 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") asserting the same central Eighth Amendment claim. Dkt. 8. The FAC named six defendants: (1) Geraldo Orozco; (2) Mark Blackwell; (3) Nick Martin; (4) the City of San Bernardino; (5) the San Bernardino City Police Department; and (6) the unnamed Police Chief of the San Bernardino City Police Department ("Police Chief"). Id. at 3-4. The FAC sued defendants Orozco, Blackwell, Martin, and Police Chief in both their individual and official capacities. Id . On December 18, 2014, the Court issued an Order Dismissing First Amended Complaint with Leave to Amend. Dkt. 9. The Court found the FAC failed to state viable official capacity claims against the individual defendants and municipal liability claims against the City of San Bernardino and the San Bernardino City Police Department. Id. at 4-7. The Court also found Plaintiff failed to state an individual capacity claim against defendant Police Chief. Id. at 7-8.

On April 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), again asserting the same central Eighth Amendment claim. Dkt. 21. The SAC names three defendants: (1) Geraldo Orozco; (2) Mark Blackwell; and (3) Nick Martin. Id. at 2. As in his prior complaints, Plaintiff checks boxes on the second page of the SAC indicating he sues all three defendants in their individual and official capacities. Id.

While Plaintiff has cured the FAC's deficiencies with respect to defendants City of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino City Police Department, and Police Chief, the Court finds the SAC is still subject to dismissal because it fails to allege plausible official capacity claims. However, dismissal will be with leave to amend.

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 Complaint Fails to State a Claim Against the Defendants in ...


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