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Williams v. Santiago

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 28, 2018

MICHAEL B. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
JESSICA SANTIAGO, Defendant.

          ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO EITHER FILE A NOTICE TO STAND ON FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT, FILE A NOTICE TO STAND ON THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT, OR FILE A THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

          MICHAEL J. SENG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction and Background

         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. Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 3.) No other party has appeared.

         Plaintiff initiated this action on July 25, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) On November 1, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend. (ECF No. 7.) Plaintiff amended, but on February 13, 2017, the Court found that his first amended complaint also failed to state a cognizable claim. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff was granted thirty days to amend. (Id.) On March 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “second amended complaint, ” much of which was devoted to seeking reconsideration of the earlier screening Order and which incorporated parts of the earlier pleading by references. (ECF No. 10.) The Court denied the implicit motion for reconsideration and dismissed the “second amended complaint” with prejudice on April 7, 2017 for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal on April 24, 2017. (ECF No. 12.)

         On January 25, 2018, the Ninth Circuit, citing its recent decision in Williams v. King, 875 F.3d 500, 503-04 (9th Cir. 2017), vacated the dismissal Order (ECF No. 11) and remanded the action for further proceedings because all parties, including unserved defendants, had to have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction and the Defendants had not so consented. (ECF No. 17 at 2.) On February 16, 2018, the Ninth Circuit's mandate was entered in this case. (ECF No. 19.)

         For the reasons outlined below, the undersigned directs that within thirty days, Plaintiff either: (1) File a Notice that he wishes to stand on his first amended complaint (ECF No. 8); (2) File a Notice that he wishes to stand on his second amended complaint (ECF No. 10); or (3) File a wholly new third amended complaint that stands entirely on its own and does not attempt to incorporating elements of earlier filings simply by referring to them.

         II. Ninth Circuit Remand

         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 case. 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 case with prejudice during screening even if the plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. Id.

         On January 25, 2018, the Ninth Circuit applied that ruling to this case, holding that the undersigned Magistrate Judge was not vested with jurisdiction to dismiss Plaintiff's case with prejudice. (ECF No. 17.) According ly, the Order of dismissal (ECF No. 11) was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings. (ECF No. 19.) The Ninth Circuit did not address the merits of Plaintiff's complaints or the Court's screening orders. (ECF Nos. 17; 19.)

         III. Plaintiff's “Second Amended Complaint” and Motion for Reconsideration

         As noted above, Plaintiff's “second amended complaint” appeared as, and was treated as, a combined request for reconsideration of the second screening Order (ECF No. 9) and second amended complaint which incorporated by reference claims from the first amended complaint. (ECF No. 10.) In the now-vacated Order dismissing this case, the Court interpreted Plaintiff's request to “set aside” the dismissal as a motion for reconsideration; it denied that motion and proceeded to screen the second amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) Denying the motion for reconsideration, in effect, constituted a final Order on the first amended complaint. However, Williams v. King, rendered invalid any such final Order on the first amended complaint.

         Plaintiff's “second amended complaint” could either be interpreted as a request to stand on the first amended complaint, as is Plaintiff's right, and/or a subsequent complaint offered for screening. It does not, however, comply with Local Rule 220, which requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading.

         Given the ambiguity resulting from conflation of the first amended complaint, the “second amended complaint” and the motion for reconsideration, the Court will direct Plaintiff to specifically and clearly clarify which version of the complaint he wishes to proceed. The Court elaborates on Plaintiff's options below.

         IV. Options A. Notice of Intent to Stand on ...


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