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Rodriguez v. State

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 4, 2017

ALFONSO JUAREZ RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a California state prisoner, presently incarcerated in Arizona, proceeding through counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and paid the filing fee. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). As set forth below, the undersigned recommends that two defendants be dismissed, and that this action be transferred to the District of Arizona.

         II. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on or about February 1, 2016, while housed at the La Palma Correctional Center in Arizona (“La Palma”), Doe defendants 1-50 had prior knowledge that a physical attack on plaintiff was going to take place yet took no action to stop or prevent the attack, and that following the attack, no investigation was conducted, the inmates and correctional officers were not brought to justice, but plaintiff was put in solitary confinement. As a result, plaintiff suffered physical injuries, current and future hospital and medical expenses, psychological, mental and emotional injuries, and pain and suffering. As causes of action, plaintiff alleges the following violations: (1) civil rights violations based on his (a) right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (b) right to be free from excessive and unreasonable force as secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (c) right to be free of unlawful, reckless, deliberately indifferent, and conscience shocking force under the Fourteenth Amendment; (d) right to be free from conspiracy, which interferes with his civil rights; (2) violation of California Civil Code § 52.1; (3) negligence; (4) assault and battery; and (5) California Civil Code § 51.7. Plaintiff seeks compensatory, general, exemplary, and punitive damages, costs and attorney fees. In addition to the Doe defendants, plaintiff names as defendants: the State of California; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”); La Palma; Chuck Keeton, Warden of La Palma; Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”); Arizona Department of Corrections (“AZ DOC”); and Charles L. Ryan, Director of AZ DOC.

         On March 9, 2017, plaintiff filed a notice purporting to substitute “Officer Delsi” in place of “Doe 1.” (ECF No. 5.)

         III. Screening

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         IV. Improper Defendants

         Plaintiff names as defendants the State of California and the CDCR.

         The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prescribes: “The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const., amend. XI. The Amendment has been interpreted to preclude suits brought by citizens against their own state as well. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-99 (1984). It also bars a federal district court from exercising supplemental jurisdiction over claims brought against a state based on state law. Id. at 120-21 (“[N]either pendent jurisdiction nor any other basis of jurisdiction may override the Eleventh Amendment.”). “Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts and can be raised by a party at any time during judicial proceedings . . . .” In Re Jackson, 184 F.3d 1046, 1048 (9th Cir. 1999). Although the Eleventh Amendment is not jurisdictional, the court may raise the defect on its own. Wisconsin Department of Corrections v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 389 (1998); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677-78 (1974). Further, “[a]lthough a State's general waiver of sovereign immunity may subject it to suit in state court, it is not enough to waive the immunity guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment.” Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 241 (1985) (emphasis added) (superseded by statute on other grounds). In order to constitute a waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity, a state statute “must specify the State's intention to subject itself to suit in federal court.” Id. (emphasis in original).

         The State of California has not consented to suit and is entitled to sovereign immunity. In addition, the CDCR is considered an arm of the state for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment. Moreno v. California, 25 F.Supp.2d 1060, 1063 (N.D. Cal. 1998) (citing Taormina v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 946 F.Supp. 829, 831 (S.D. Cal. 1996), aff'd, 132 F.3d 40 (9th Cir. 1997)); see also Philips v. McGrath, 2007 WL 2781270, at *2 n.3 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 20, 2007) (noting that CDCR was previously known as California Department of Corrections). Thus, “the CDC[R] is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. . . .” Moreno, 25 F.Supp.2d at 1063. The Eleventh Amendment erects a general bar against federal lawsuits brought against the state and there is no exception present here. Wolfson v. Brammer, 616 F.3d 1045, 1065-66 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 491 (9th Cir. 2003)) (quotation marks omitted).

         In addition, plaintiff is seeking monetary damages only and has not stated a claim for injunctive relief. Fayle v. ...


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