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Chavez v. County Jail of San Bernardino

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 8, 2015

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

ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

This is a pro se inmate civil rights case. On April 7, 2015, Plaintiff Manuel Reyna Chavez ("Plaintiff") filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). 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, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, 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 sued 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 a First Amended Complaint. ECF 8. The First Amended Complaint named 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. All defendants were sued in both their individual and official capacities. Id. at 1-6. On January 8, 2015, the Court dismissed the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend. ECF 9. The Court found the First Amended Complaint failed to state viable official capacity claims against the individual defendants and municipal liability claims against the County of San Bernardino and San Bernardino County Jail. Id. at 3-5. The Court also found Plaintiff failed to state viable individual capacity claims against defendants Reynoso, Head Sheriff of West Valley Detention Center, and Captain Jeff Rose. Id. at 5-6.

On April 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant SAC, again asserting the same central Eighth Amendment claim. ECF 18. The SAC names three defendants: (1) Deputy Ungureanu; (2) Deputy Reynoso; and (3) Deputy Sanchez. Id. at 3. As in his prior complaints, Plaintiff checks boxes on the third page of the SAC indicating he sues all three defendants in their individual and official capacities. Id.

While Plaintiff has addressed the First Amended Complaint's deficiencies with respect to defendants County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino County Jail, Head Sheriff of West Valley Detention Center, and Captain Jeff Rose, the Court finds the SAC is still subject to dismissal because of its failure to: (1) allege plausible official capacity claims against all three named defendants; and (2) allege a plausible individual capacity claim against defendant Reynoso. 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.

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