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Pringle v. Gentry

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 30, 2018

AMANDA GENTRY, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se, and the case was accordingly referred to the Magistrate Judge by Local Rule 302(c)(21). There are seven defendants in this case (Amanda Gentry, Cindy McDonald, Shannon Cluney, Noel Barlow-Hust, Sandy Jones, Judy Mesick, and Mark Alan Kubinski) all of whom work in an official capacity for the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”) or the Idaho Attorney General's Office. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff sues defendants in both their official capacities and their individual capacities. Before the court is a motion to dismiss from all defendants. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff has opposed defendants' motion. ECF No. 17. Defendants filed an untimely reply brief on March 26, 2018, which was not considered due to its untimely filing. Local Civil Rule 422(e), ECF No. 24. Plaintiff filed a motion to strike defendants' untimely reply brief. ECF No. 25. As the court did not consider defendants' reply brief, plaintiff's motion is denied as moot. The court held a hearing on this matter in open court on March 28, 2018. Plaintiff appeared telephonically and defendants were present via their counsel. ECF No. 26.

         Based on a review of the briefing and the relevant law, the court recommends that defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, ECF No. 12, be GRANTED and that this case be dismissed in its entirety for lack of personal jurisdiction and pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed her complaint on October 23, 2017. ECF No. 1. The complaint states that she is bringing this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at 1. Plaintiff was incarcerated at various IDOC facilities between August 12, 2012 and December 14, 2012. Id. at 4. She was again incarcerated between May 25, 2016 and November 1, 2016. Id. Upon her arrival to an IDOC facility she noted “numerous civil rights violations, as well as instances of financial fraud, falsification of records, staff misconduct with inmates, and negligence.” Id. She claims that when she sought to file grievances regarding these violations, prison staff harassed her and retaliated against her. This harassment and retaliation included transfer to administrative segregation, loss of personal property, transfer to other facilities, verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation and threats, loss of prison employment, and denial of access to courts. Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims that defendants also denied her the opportunity to go to a minimum security facility. Id. at 6.

         On November 3, 2016, after she served her term of imprisonment in IDOC, “two private security officers hired by Yolo County arrived and transported Plaintiff back to California on the Yolo County detainer.” Id. at 13. Plaintiff alleges she was not provided food or water for the 13hour trip, and that the transporting officers told her that IDOC was the entity responsible for supplying food and water so they had not made provisions. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that on or about January 26, 2017, an IDOC employee contacted plaintiff in California and directed her to apply for an interstate compact (a mechanism that allows for transferring adult offenders on supervision from one state to another) to transfer her supervision to California because plaintiff had been released from Yolo County Jail. Id. Plaintiff responded in writing that she declined to apply for Interstate transfer, asserting she was still under the jurisdiction of the Yolo County detainer and under Interstate Compact rules she was not eligible to apply for Interstate Compact. Id.

         On February 6, 2017, plaintiff was ordered to report to Sylvia Diaz of the Yolo County Probation Department for her Idaho parole check-in by an IDOC employee. Id. at 14. Plaintiff claims this decision came from defendants Mesick, Jones, and Kubinski. Id. Plaintiff took issue with defendants' demand that she apply for an interstate compact. Id. Despite an interstate compact being forwarded to Yolo County Probation, plaintiff claims she never initiated nor signed an application. Id.

         According to plaintiff, defendant Judy Mesick forwarded plaintiff an email on February 14, 2017 which stated that if plaintiff did not consent from the transfer of her parole from Idaho to California plaintiff would receive a parole violation and be re-incarcerated. Id. at 15. On March 8, 2017, plaintiff “reluctantly and belatedly” signed the “fraudulent Interstate Compact Application.” Plaintiff alleges that on March 2, 2017 defendant Cindy McDonald had a telephone conversation with Yolo County District Attorney Larry Eichele, who had contacted Ms. McDonald in preparation for his “Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss.” Id. at 16. Plaintiff alleges that defendant McDonald “was advised to make the aforementioned misrepresentation of material fact” to Eichele by Defendant Mark Alan Kubinski. Id. at 16.

         II. The Claims

         Plaintiff's complaint sets forth four claims: (1) “Failure to Follow the Established Law of the [Interstate Agreement on Detainers (“IAD”)];”[1] (2) “Unconstitutional and Unlawful Transport Order, Interstate Compact Acts and Parole Conditions;”[2] (3) “Violations of Rules of Professional Responsibility;”[3] (4) “First Amendment Retaliation and Eighth Amendment Calculated Harassment.”[4] ECF No. 1 at 17-26.

         III. Motion

         All defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's four causes of action. ECF No. 12. Defendants seek to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) on the grounds that this court does not have personal jurisdiction over them. Id. Alternatively, defendants allege plaintiff's claims should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3), arguing that the Eastern District of California is not a proper venue as “defendants are Idaho residents and the substantial events alleged in the complaint occurred in Idaho.” Id. at 13.

         IV. Analysis

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         1. Dismissal Standard Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) prevents a district court with a “lack of jurisdiction” over defendants from exercising its power over them. “Where a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate.” Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004). Uncontroverted facts in the complaint are accepted as true for purposes of assessing personal jurisdiction. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs., Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011). Jurisdictional facts cannot, however, be established by nonspecific, conclusory statements. Butcher's Union Local No. 498, United Food & Commercial Workers v. SDC Inv., Inc., 788 F.2d 535, 540 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Kaylor v. Fields, 661 F.2d 1177, 1182-83 (8th Cir. 1981) (although liberally construed, the complaint “must contain something more than mere conclusory statements that are unsupported by specific facts”)). Additionally, plaintiff cannot solely rely on allegations in the complaint when they have been challenged by affidavit, Taylor v. Portland Paramount Corp., 383 F.2d 634, 639 (9th Cir. 1967), although conflicts between affidavits are resolved in plaintiff's favor, Mavrix, 647 F.3d at 1223.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k), which sets the territorial limits of effective service, states service can establish personal jurisdiction over defendants who would be “subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(2). In California, “[a] court … may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” Cal. Civ. P. Code § 410.10. Thus, California's long-arm statute extends as far as the requirements of due process allow. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 801. Due process allows the exercise of personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state-defendant if the defendant has “certain minimum contacts with [the state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 31695 (1945). Depending on the type and breadth of a defendant's contacts with the forum, jurisdiction may be either general or specific to the claim. Roth v. Garcia Marquez, 942 F.2d 617, 620 (9th Cir. 1991).

         2. General Jurisdiction

         “For an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise of general jurisdiction is the individual's domicile.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 924 (2011). “[A] court may assert jurisdiction … to hear any and all claims against [a defendant] only when the [defendant's] affiliations with the State in which suit is brought are so constant and pervasive as to render it essentially at home in the forum State.” Daimler AG v. Bauman, 565 U.S. 915, 924 (2014).

         In this case, defendants are all residents of Idaho. ECF No. 12 at 2. This does not appear to be disputed by plaintiff. ECF No. 17. Plaintiff has not provided any details that would refute defendants' claim that they are domiciled in Idaho. All are sued in their capacities as Idaho state officials. As the defendants are not domiciled in California, and there is no evidence that their contacts with California have been so constant and pervasive as to establish a ...

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