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Arellano v. Dean

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 15, 2017

RAUL ARELLANO, CDCR #g-57782, Plaintiff,


          Hon. Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge.

         I. Procedural History

         On October 6, 2015, Raul Arellano (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint (“Compl.”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF. No. 1). On February 19, 2016, United States District Judge Roger T. Benitez granted Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) but sua sponte dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (ECF. No. 3.) After receiving an extension of time, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF. No. 7.) The Court, once again, conducted the required screening and dismissed Plaintiff's FAC for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and for seeking monetary damages against immune defendants. (ECF. No. 8.) On October 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). (ECF. No. 11.) On November 17, 2016, this matter was transferred to the docket of United States District Judge Janis L. Sammartino pursuant to the “low-number” rule. (ECF. No. 12.)

         II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)

         A. Standard of Review

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are “incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program, ” “as soon as practicable after docketing.” See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         All complaints must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) “parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). In addition, the court “ha[s] an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)).

         B. Dismissed Defendants

         When the Court dismissed Plaintiff's FAC, he was informed that any “Defendants not named and any claims not re-alleged in the Amended Complaint will be considered waived.” (See Sept. 13, 2016 Order, ECF. No. 8, at 9-10 (citing Hal Roach Studios, Inc., v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc, 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1989)). In his SAC, Plaintiff no longer names Daniel Paramo and therefore, this Defendant is DISMISSED from this action.

         While Plaintiff names the “California Correctional Health Care Services” as a Defendant, he fails to allege any facts specific to what this Defendant is alleged to have done. Regardless, Plaintiff cannot bring an action for money damages against this Defendant and the claims as to this Defendant must be dismissed sua sponte pursuant to both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b) for failing to state a claim and for seeking damages against a defendant who is immune. The State of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and any state prison, correctional agency, sub-division, or department under its jurisdiction, are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Hale v. State of Ariz., 993 F.2d 1387, 1398-99 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that a state department of corrections is an arm of the state, and thus, not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983). And if by naming an agency within the CDCR as a party, Plaintiff really seeks to sue the State of California itself, his claims are clearly barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (per curiam) ("There can be no doubt. . . that [a] suit against the State and its Board of Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment, unless [the State] has consented to the filing of such a suit.").

         Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the California Correctional Health Care Services Company, this Defendant is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), (hi) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) & (2).

         C. Remaining Defendants

         Based on the allegations contained in Plaintiffs SAC, the Court now finds Plaintiffs SAC is sufficient to survive the "low threshold" for proceeding past the sua sponte screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b) as to the remaining ...

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