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Peden v. Robert Presley Detention Center

United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division

April 12, 2017

NICHOLAS ANTHONY PEDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER; et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          ALEXANDER F. MacKINNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On October 31, 2016, plaintiff, a state prisoner now held at the California Institution for Men in Chino filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Eastern District of California. On November 7, 2016, the case was transferred to the Central District of California under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) because the cause of action arose in Riverside County, which is in the Central District. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff subsequently was granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee. In the Complaint, plaintiff purported to raise one claim concerning alleged inadequate medical treatment for a pre-existing injury to his left hand while he was a detainee at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside County, California. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff named as defendants the Robert Presley Detention Center (“RPDC”) and the County of Riverside (“County”), and he sought monetary damages. (Id. at 2, 6.)

         In accordance with the terms of the “Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995” (“PLRA”), the Court screened the Complaint prior to ordering service for purposes of determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious; or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). Following careful review of the Complaint, the Court found that its allegations appeared insufficient to state any claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, on December 12, 2016, the Complaint was dismissed with leave to amend, and plaintiff was ordered, if he wished to pursue the action, to file a First Amended Complaint no later than January 20, 2017. Further, plaintiff was admonished that, if he failed to timely file a First Amended Complaint, or failed to remedy the deficiencies of his pleading, the Court would recommend that this action be dismissed without leave to amend and with prejudice. (See ECF No. 12.)

         On January 17, 2017, plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). In the FAC, plaintiff continued to name only the RPDC and the County as defendants. Plaintiff purported to raise one claim for deliberate indifference to his medical care. (ECF No. 13 at 3, 5.) Plaintiff sought monetary damages and injunctive relief to be provided “adequate reconstructive surgery.” (Id. at 8.) Once again, in accordance with the mandate of the PLRA, the Court screened the FAC for purposes of determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious; or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Following careful review of the FAC, the Court found that its allegations appeared insufficient to state any claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, on January 24, 2017, the FAC was dismissed with leave to amend, and plaintiff was ordered, if he wished to pursue the action, to file a Second Amended Complaint no later than March 3, 2017. Further, plaintiff was admonished that, if he failed to timely file a Second Amended Complaint, or failed to remedy the deficiencies of his pleading, the Court would recommend that this action be dismissed without leave to amend and with prejudice. (See ECF No. 15.)

         On March 2, 2017, plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) (ECF No. 17) in which he names as defendants the RPDC, the County, Wasco State Prison (“Wasco”), and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”). (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff purports to raise one claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for inadequate medical care. (Id. at 5.) In his SAC, plaintiff seeks monetary compensation. (Id. at 20.) Once again, in accordance with the mandate of the PLRA, the Court has screened the SAC for purposes of determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious; or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         The Court's screening of the pleading under the foregoing statutes is governed by the following standards. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory; or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Rosati v. Igbinoso, 791 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2015) (when determining whether a complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court applies the same standard as applied in a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)). In determining whether the pleading states a claim on which relief may be granted, its allegations of material fact must be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff. See Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). However, the “tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         In addition, since plaintiff is appearing pro se, the Court must construe the allegations of the pleading liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, the Supreme Court has held that, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted, alteration in original).

         After careful review and consideration of the SAC under the foregoing standards, the Court finds that plaintiff's allegations once again appear insufficient to state any claim on which relief may be granted. Because plaintiff is an inmate proceeding pro se herein, the Court will provide one additional opportunity for amendment. Accordingly, the SAC is dismissed with leave to amend. See Rosati, 791 F.3d at 1039 (“A district court should not dismiss a pro se complaint without leave to amend unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         If plaintiff still desires to pursue this action, he is ORDERED to file a Third Amended Complaint no later than May 31, 2017, remedying the deficiencies discussed below. Further, plaintiff is admonished that, if he fails to timely file a Third Amended Complaint, or fails to remedy the deficiencies discussed herein, the Court may recommend that this action be dismissed without leave to amend and with prejudice.[1]

         DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff is barred by the Eleventh Amendment from raising federal civil rights claims against the CDCR or Wasco.

         Plaintiff's SAC now names as defendants the CDCR and Wasco. However, the Eleventh Amendment bars federal jurisdiction over suits by individuals against a State and its instrumentalities, unless either the State consents to waive its sovereign immunity or Congress abrogates it. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99-100 (1984). In addition, “the eleventh amendment bars actions against state officers sued in their official capacities for past alleged misconduct involving a complainant's federally protected rights, where the nature of the relief sought is retroactive, i.e., money damages.” Bair v. Krug, 853 F.2d 672, 675 (9th Cir. 1988). To overcome this Eleventh Amendment bar, the State's consent or Congress' intent must be “unequivocally expressed.” Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 99. While California has consented to be sued in its own courts pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act, such consent does not constitute consent to suit in federal court. See BV Engineering v. Univ. of Calif., Los Angeles, 858 F.2d 1394, 1396 (9th Cir. 1988). Finally, Congress has not repealed state sovereign immunity against suits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         The CDCR and any of its prisons are state agencies that are immune from civil rights claims raised pursuant to § 1983. See Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 100 (“This jurisdictional bar applies regardless of the nature of the relief sought.”); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (per curiam) (the Eleventh Amendment bars claim for injunctive relief against Alabama and its Board of Corrections). Accordingly, plaintiff may not proceed with any civil rights claims against the CDCR or Wasco.[2]

         B. Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim ...


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