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Baker v. German

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 1, 2017

DOMINIQUE D. BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
HUMBERTO GERMAN, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING ACTION PROCEED ON PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM OF EXCESSIVE FORCE AGAINST DEFENDANTS HUMBERTO GERMAN AND PHILLIP HOLGUIN AND DISMISSING WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT CLAIM [ECF NO. 18]

         Plaintiff Dominique Baker is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. Pending before the Court is the April 24, 2017, second amended complaint.

         I.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this action on December 15, 2016 (ECF No. 1) and a first amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) on February 6, 2017 (ECF No. 11.) On April 6, 2017, the Court screened the first amended complaint and found that Plaintiff stated a cognizable claim for excessive force against Defendants Humberto German and Phillip Holguin. However, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to state a cognizable claim for false allegations, failure to supervise, false imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment, and equal protection violation. (ECF No. 15.) The Court granted Plaintiff the option of either filing a second amended complaint or notifying the Court of his intent to proceed only on the claim of excessive force. On April 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed the second amended complaint that is now before the Court. (ECF No. 18.)

         II.

         SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The Court is required to screen Plaintiff's complaint and dismiss the case, in whole or in part, if the Court determines it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). A complaint 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)), and courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, ” Doe I v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121-23 (9th Cir. 2012); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), but Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible to survive screening, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III.

         COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         On April 23, 2011, at 9:00 a.m., Plaintiff was inside his assigned cell at Corcoran State Prison. Officers Humberto German and Phillip Holguin approached Plaintiff's cell and ordered him to be “handcuffed” and escorted Plaintiff to the building holding cage. Plaintiff underwent an unclothed body search and was then handcuffed and escorted to the holding case. After being uncuffed, Plaintiff exchanged words with Defendants German and Holguin. Defendant Humberto German removed his state issued pepper spray canister and began spraying Plaintiff in the face and torso. Plaintiff went into shock and was not able to see and breathe. Plaintiff then heard Defendant Humberto German order Phillip Holguin to pepper spray the Plaintiff. Both Defendants pepper sprayed Plaintiff until the canisters were empty. Plaintiff did not talk with the prison arresting agency, no photographs were taken, nor was he advised of his Miranda rights.

         Plaintiff contends that the State is responsible for his illegal arrest and wrongful imprisonment. Both Defendants should have known that the arrest of Plaintiff was illegal and he was deprived of due process of the law.

         IV.

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