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Bullard v. St. Andra

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 23, 2018

EFREN DANIELLE BULLARD Plaintiff,
v.
R. ST. ANDRA, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS NON-COGNIZABLE CLAIMS (ECF NO. 8) FOURTEEN (14) DAY DEADLINE

          MICHAEL J. SENG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) He has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 9.) Defendants declined to consent to Magistrate judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 20.)

         On June 16, 2016, the Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint (ECF No. 8) and found it states cognizable Eighth Amendment claims against CO Jane Doe and CO Benson; a conspiracy claim against CO Jane Doe and CO Benson; and a First Amendment retaliation claim against CO Davis. (ECF No. 10.) Although not expressly stated, the remaining claims apparently were dismissed for failure to state a claim. The action since has proceeded only on the cognizable claims.

         I. Williams v. King

         Federal courts are under a continuing duty to confirm their jurisdictional power and are “obliged to inquire sua sponte whenever a doubt arises as to [its] existence[.]” Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 278 (1977) (citations omitted). On November 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) requires the consent of all named plaintiffs and defendants, even those not served with process, before jurisdiction may vest in a Magistrate Judge to dispose of a civil claim. Williams v. King, 875 F.3d 500 (9th Cir. 2017). Accordingly, the Court held that a Magistrate Judge does not have jurisdiction to dismiss a claim with prejudice during screening even if the plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. Id.

         Here, Defendants were not yet served at the time that the Court screened the first amended complaint and therefore had not appeared or consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. Because Defendants had not consented, the undersigned's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims is invalid under Williams. Because the undersigned nevertheless stands by the analysis in his previous screening order, he will below recommend to the District Judge that the non-cognizable claims be dismissed.

         II. Findings and Recommendations on First Amended Complaint

         A. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         B. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person who deprives an individual of federally guaranteed rights “under color” of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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. Wal-Mart 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.

         Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         C. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff complains of conduct occurring while he was housed at High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”) in Susanville, California, and then at Corcoran State Prison (“CSP”) in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff names HDSP Correctional ...


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