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James v. Lee

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 7, 2017

KYLE ROBERT JAMES, Booking # 15746082, Plaintiff,
v.
BARBARA LEE, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT AS FRIVOLOUS AND FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)(2) AND § 1915A(B)

          HON. ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Procedural History

         On June 21, 2016, Plaintiff, Kyle James, currently incarcerated at the California State Prison - Los Angeles County located in Lancaster, California, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1) and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 2). Because Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP complied with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), the Court granted him leave to proceed without full prepayment of the civil filing fees required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), but dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). On November 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 6.) In this FAC, Plaintiff names only Defendant Barbara Lee, John Doe Doctor, Jane Doe Doctor and “S.D.C.J. Med. Supervisor” as Defendants.

         The Court, once again, dismissed Plaintiff's FAC on the grounds that he failed to state a claim and as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). (ECF No. 8.) On March 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”). In his SAC, Plaintiff again names Barbara Lee as a Defendant but also adds Defendants Kania and Harvel.

         II. Legal Standards for Screening Complaint Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his FAC requires a pre-Answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “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” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a cause of action for the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. Wyatt v. Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 161 (1992). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Long v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006).

         B. Duplicative claims

         Plaintiff broadly alleges that during the two and one-half years he was in the custody of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (“SDCSD”) he was “never treated for nerve damage” in his hands. (SAC at 4.) Plaintiff claims that the injuries to his hands was “caused by Sheriff Employees L.T. Kania, Sgt. Blackwell, Lance Tade and many other deputies.” (Id.)

         Here, the Court takes judicial notice that Plaintiff has two pending actions involving use of force by SDCSD deputies, including claims against Blackwell and Tade, and therefore, Plaintiff's SAC is subject to sua sponte dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b) because it contains claims which are duplicative of these two other actions. See James v. Agnew, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 3:15-cv-00409-AJB-MDD and James v. Emmens, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 3:16-cv-2823-WQH-NLS. A court “‘may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.'” Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1225 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bennett v. Medtronic, Inc., 285 F.3d 801, 803 n.2 (9th Cir. 2002)).

         A prisoner's complaint is considered frivolous if it “merely repeats pending or previously litigated claims.” Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1105 n.2 (9th Cir. 1995) (construing former 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)) (citations and internal quotations omitted). Because Plaintiff appears to be litigating the identical claims presented in the instant action in James v. Agnew, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 3:15-cv-00409-AJB-MDD and James v. Emmens, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 3:16-cv-2823-WQH-NLS, the Court ...


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