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Kindred v. Bell

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 20, 2017

KENNETH BELL, et al., Defendants.



         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The action proceeds on Plaintiff's claim that, on separate occasions, Defendants Bigot and Bell denied Plaintiff access to religious items in violation of Plaintiff's First Amendment free exercise rights. (ECF Nos. 16 and 19.) All other claims and Defendants have been dismissed. (Id .)

         Plaintiff has filed two motions for injunctive relief. (ECF Nos. 18 and 34.) Plaintiff's first motion (ECF No. 18) requests that the Court enjoin non-parties from confiscating Native American religious items “already issued to him and found not to be contraband at that [sic] time he received them.” (Id. at 1.) His second motion for injunctive relief (ECF No. 34) does not clearly state the relief he seeks, but appears to be related to the denial of a “religious package” that was to be delivered to him but was withheld by non-party prison officials, allegedly in part at the direction of Defendant Bell.

         Defendants filed motions to strike Plaintiff's injunction motions. (ECF Nos. 31 and 40.) Defendants assert that Plaintiff's motions raise claims separate from those in his complaint and seek injunctive relief against non-parties. They argue that Plaintiff's motions “fit the very definition of immaterial matter that should be stricken to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial.” (Id.) As discussed below, they also challenge Plaintiff's claims of Defendant Bell's involvement in the events giving rise to Plaintiff's second request for injunctive relief. Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant's first motion to strike (ECF No. 38), but not the second.

         The matters are deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         Injunctive relief, whether temporary or permanent, is an “extraordinary remedy, never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). Plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that they are likely to succeed on the merits, that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in their favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest. Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 20).

         The Court does not have jurisdiction to order injunctive relief which would require directing parties not before the Court to take action. Zepeda v. United States Immigration & Naturalization Serv., 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir. 1985) (“A federal court may issue an injunction if it has personal jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the claim; it may not attempt to determine the rights of persons not before the court.”).

         B. Rule 12(f) Motion to Strike

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the Court may “strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “Redundant allegations are those that are needlessly repetitive or wholly foreign to the issues involved in the action.” Cal. Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v. Alco Pacific, Inc., 217 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1033 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Immaterial matter is “that which has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief or the defenses being pleaded.” Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted), rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994). Impertinent matter “consists of statements that do not pertain, and are not necessary, to the issues in question.” Id. And scandalous matter is that which “improperly casts a derogatory light on someone, most typically on a party to the action.” Germaine Music v. Universal Songs of Polygram, 275 F.Supp.2d 1288, 1300 (D. Nev. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Because motions to strike are “often used as delaying tactics, ” they are “generally disfavored” and are rarely granted in the absence of prejudice to the moving party. Rosales v. Citibank, FSB, 133 F.Supp.2d 1177, 1180 (N.D. Cal. 2001). “Where the moving party cannot adequately demonstrate . . . prejudice, courts frequently deny motions to strike even though the offending matter was literally within one or more of the categories set forth in Rule 12(f).” N.Y.C. Emps.' Ret. Sys. v. Berry, 667 F.Supp.2d 1121, 1128 (N.D. Cal. 2009). Courts may find prejudice “where superfluous pleadings may confuse the jury, or where a party may be required to engage in burdensome discovery around frivolous matters.” J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Luhn, Civ. No. 2:10- 3229 JAM CKD, 2011 WL 5040709, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 24, 2011) (citations omitted).

         III. ...

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