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McDaniel v. Chavez

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 12, 2017

ROBERT MCDANIEL, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK X. CHAVEZ, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF, 58) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

         Robert McDaniel (“Plaintiff”) is a former state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of witnesses and evidence with regard to disciplinary proceedings that took place in 2008. After substantial screening, the Court previously found that the Fourth Amended Complaint states cognizable claims for violations of due process against Defendants Davis, Chavez, and Loyd.

         Defendants Davis, Chavez, and Loyd have moved to dismiss the Fourth Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. Defendant Chavez claims that he is entitled to dismissal because he did not administer the disciplinary proceedings, and Defendant Loyd claims he is entitled to qualified immunity. Declining to incorporate by reference the disciplinary hearing reports and accepting all allegations of material fact in the Fourth Amended Complaint as true, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff has stated claims for violations of due process against Defendants Davis, Chavez, and Loyd, and that Defendant Loyd is not entitled to qualified immunity based on the limited record before the Court at this time. Accordingly, the undersigned recommends denying Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on June 15, 2010. (ECF No. 1). The Court first screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and issued an order on April 3, 2014 requiring Plaintiff to either file an amended complaint or notify the Court of his willingness to proceed with the claims found cognizable by the Court. (ECF No. 12). That order also provided substantial guidance regarding the legal standards to Plaintiff's purported claims and instructions regarding what was needed to allege such claims in an amendment. On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 17). On September 15, 2014, with leave of court, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 21). On October 7, 2015, the Court screened Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and found certain cognizable claims against Defendant Davis for due process violations, and gave Plaintiff leave to amend. (ECF No. 28). Plaintiff filed the Third Amended Complaint on December 14, 2015. (ECF No. 33). Plaintiff then requested leave to file a supplement. (ECF No. 34). The Court granted leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint on July 21, 2016. (ECF No. 38).

         Plaintiff filed the Fourth Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on August 11, 2016. (ECF No. 39). The Court screened the FAC and found that it states cognizable claims for violations of due process against Defendants Davis, Chavez, and Loyd based on their administration of disciplinary proceedings. (ECF Nos. 40, 41). On October 31, 2016, the Court authorized service of the FAC. (ECF No. 42).

         On March 28, 2017, Defendant Loyd filed the instant motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 58). On May 2, 2017, Defendants Chavez and Davis filed a joinder to the motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 61). Plaintiff has filed an opposition, and Defendants Chavez, Davis, and Loyd (collectively “Defendants”) have filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 65, 66).

         II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS IN THE FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT [1]

Plaintiff's FAC concerns a disciplinary hearing that took place on July 19, 2008 and resulted in the forfeiture of 150 days good time credits. The hearing was overseen by Defendant Davis. Plaintiff alleges that the hearing was held outside the time limit requirements without the required reporting officer. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Davis denied all witnesses and the requested evidence from cameras.

         Plaintiff was given a rehearing on November 21, 2008. It is not clear who administered the proceeding, but it appears that Defendants Chavez and Loyd were involved. Plaintiff alleges that the rehearing was authorized by using a tainted document. Petitioner further alleges that the rehearing lacked an adversarial process. All witnesses were denied, and there was no reporting officer. Defendant Chavez ignored Plaintiff's right to question the reporting officer and present a defense. He also denied Plaintiff's right to represent himself.

         Plaintiff contends that a violation of the 30-day time limit should have precluded any forfeiture of credits. The FAC alleges that Defendants were involved in creating altered versions of a document in order to comply with certain date requirements. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Davis and Loyd altered reports by writing “none” in the sections regarding witnesses.

         III. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE AND INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

         Defendant Loyd has filed a request that the Court take judicial notice of Plaintiff's original complaint in McDaniel v. Riedel, No. 1:09-cv-00437 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2009), and the disciplinary documents and grievance materials attached therein. (ECF No. 59). “The Court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it: (1) is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). Although the Court may take judicial notice of the fact that Plaintiff filed a complaint in a different case in this district, the Court cannot take judicial notice of facts asserted in that complaint or in the documents attached therein. Accordingly, the Court denies the request for judicial notice.

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court generally may not consider materials outside the complaint and pleadings. Gumataotao v. Dir. of Dep't of Revenue & Taxation, 236 F.3d 1077, 1083 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Cooper v. Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 622 (9th Cir. 1998)). However, pursuant to the Ninth Circuit's “incorporation by reference” doctrine, the district court may-but is not required to-look beyond the pleadings and “take into account ‘documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the [plaintiff's] pleading.'” Davis v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 691 F.3d 1152, 1159-60 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Knieval v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005)).

         In the FAC, Petitioner references the July 19, 2008 and November 21, 2008 hearings and refers to the contents of the hearing reports. (ECF No. 39 at 2, 4-6, 11-18, 20-21). Respondent claims that Petitioner does not question the authenticity of the hearing reports. (ECF No. 58-1 at 4). While Petitioner may not question the hearing reports' authenticity, the FAC clearly contests the accuracy of the contents therein. For example, the FAC alleges Defendants Davis and Loyd altered reports by ...


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