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Quiroga v. Cooper

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 29, 2017

MONICO J. QUIROGA, III, Plaintiff,
v.
C. COOPER et al, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FINDING COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR EXCESSIVE FORCE AND RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF ALL OTHER CLAIMS (DOC. NOS. 1, 13, 16.) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN 14 DAYS

         Monico J. Quiroga, III (“Plaintiff”) was a pretrial detainee at the time of the relevant events in his complaint. He is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On January 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed his complaint, which is now before this Court for screening. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Cooper and Moreno assaulted him while he was in the central receiving facility. Plaintiff also attempts to bring an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Kern County Sherriff.

         On March 9, 2017, the Court entered an order finding that Plaintiff stated a cognizable claim for excessive force against Defendants Cooper and Moreno, but failed to state a cognizable claim against Defendant Kern County Sherriff. (ECF No. 13.) That order gave Plaintiff options to: (1) notify the Court that he is willing to proceed only on the claim against Defendants Cooper and Moreno; (2) file a First Amended Complaint; or (3) notify the Court that he wishes to stand on his original complaint, subject to recommendations to the District Judge. (Id.) On March 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a notice informing the Court that he is choosing to stand on complaint, subject to recommendations to District Judge. (ECF No. 16.)

         Accordingly, the Court will now enter Findings and Recommendations to the District Judge consistent with its March 9, 2017 screening order.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         When a party seeks permission to pursue a civil case in forma papueris, courts will screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In particular, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) provides that courts shall dismiss a case at any time if it determines that, inter alia, it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A central function of this screening process is to “discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the cost of bringing suit.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

         II. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLANT

         Plaintiff alleges that on September 25, 2015, he was assaulted while being locked into Central Receiving facility in Bakersfield as a pretrial detainee. Defendant J. Moreno struck and punched Plaintiff several times while Plaintiff was in restraints, resulting in substantial bodily harm. Defendant C. Cooper also participated in the assault. Defendants' force was excessive and unjustified.[1]

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Section 1983 Claims

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         “[Section] 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)); see also Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights Org., 441 U.S. 600, 618 (1979); Hall v. City of Los Angeles, 697 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2012); Crowley v. Nevada, 678 F.3d 730, 734 (9th Cir. 2012); Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).

         To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him or her of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). “A person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). “The requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation ...


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