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Dixon v. Armas

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 30, 2017

TRADELL M. DIXON, Plaintiff,
v.
M. ARMAS, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT DEFENDANT ARMAS'S MOTION TO DISMISS BE GRANTED (ECF NO. 19) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN TWENTY-ONE DAYS .

         I. BACKGROUND

         Tradell M. Dixon (“Plaintiff”) is a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The case now proceeds on Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), which was filed on January 14, 2015. (ECF No. 9).

         After screening Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, the Court found that Plaintiff stated a cognizable claim against Defendant Armas for failure to protect Plaintiff and against Defendants Flippo and Triesch for inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment, but stated no other cognizable claim. (ECF Nos. 12, 15, & 18).

         Unbeknownst to the Court upon screening, approximately two years before filing the instant case, Plaintiff filed a case on August 11, 2011, which was assigned to Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Beck.[1] Dixon v. Harrington, E.D. Cal. No. 1:11-cv-01323-DLB. In that prior case, Plaintiff similarly alleged that he suffered injuries stemming from an altercation with another inmate on July 7, 2010, which was the result of Defendant Doe #1's failure to protect Plaintiff. Dixon v. Harrington, E.D. Cal. No. 1:11-cv-01323-DLB, ECF No. 1. On January 2, 2013, Judge Beck dismissed the case with prejudice for failure to state a claim. Dixon v. Harrington, E.D. Cal. No. 1:11-cv-01323-DLB, ECF No. 12. Less than a month after the dismissal, Plaintiff filed the instant case. (ECF No. 1). As discussed more below, although Defendant Armas was not identified at that time only as Defendant Doe #1, the prior complaint concerns the same incident, defendant and claims.

         In the case now before the Court, on November 18, 2016, Defendant Armas filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Armas is barred by the doctrines of claim preclusion and judicial estoppel. (ECF No. 19-1, p. 1). On March 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed his opposition to the motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 39). On March 14, 2017, Defendant Armas filed his reply to Plaintiff's opposition to the motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 40).

         Because the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Armas is barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, the Court recommends granting Defendant Armas's motion to dismiss.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINTS

         A. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint in the Present Case

         Plaintiff was an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”). Plaintiff's allegations stem from conduct that occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at KVSP. Plaintiff names as defendants Mauro Armas, a correctional counselor at KVSP; Elizabeth S. Flippo, a correctional officer at KVSP; and Carleen M. Triesch, a supervising registered nurse at KVSP. Plaintiff's factual allegations in his First Amended Complaint are as follows:

         In May of 2009, a known and documented enemy of Plaintiff, referred to as Inmate Slack, was transferred to KVSP. The prison's unit classification committee assembled and identified Inmate Slack (“Slack”) as an enemy of the Plaintiff. (First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 9, ¶ 13).

         According to Plaintiff, documented enemies must be removed from the institution unless the inmate previously in the institution agrees to sign off on enemy documentation. Defendant Armas contacted Plaintiff and asked him to sign off on enemy documentation but Plaintiff refused, explaining to Defendant Armas that he feared for his life and safety. (Id. ¶ 14). Plaintiff received a note from Slack stating “we are gonna go heads up . . . stop dodging me . . . when I catch ya I'm gonna lay your ass out on the yard.” (Id.). Plaintiff handed this note to Defendant Armas who responded that “he's ‘an inmate, you deal with it.'” (Id.). When Plaintiff again refused to sign off on the enemy documentation, Armas told Plaintiff “go lock it up to your cell!” (Id. ¶ 16).

         Defendant Armas housed the enemy at the same institution as Plaintiff. Armas falsely told Plaintiff that Slack would be transferred out of the institution, but in fact did not do so.

         According to the FAC, Slack subsequently attacked Plaintiff. Following the attack, Plaintiff was pepper-sprayed by prison officials, placed in a cage, and then escorted across the yard on “scorching hot asphalt while barefoot.” (Id. ¶ 20.)

         The undersigned judge issued Findings and Recommendations that the action proceed only against Defendant Armas for failure to protect and against defendants Flippo and Triesch for inadequate medical care, under the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 15, pg. 2). On September 19, 2016, the District Court adopted the findings and recommendations issued on July 25, 2016, in full. (ECF No. 18, pg. 2).

         B. ...


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