United States District Court, C.D. California
LAWRENCE E. GOMES, Plaintiff,
DAVID M. MATHIS, M.D., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DISMISSING FIRST
AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lawrence E. Gomes, a California state prisoner proceeding
pro se, constructively filed a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 20,
2017. ("Complaint, " Dkt. No. 1)
. The Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend due
to pleading defects. (Dkt. No. 8). Pending before the Court
is Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. ("FAC"
Dkt. No. 9).
mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of
complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress
from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5A(a) . This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any
portion, before service of process if it concludes that the
complaint (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or (3) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § l9l5A(b) (1-2); see also Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000)
(en banc). For the reasons stated below, the Court DISMISSES
the FAC with leave to amend.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
sues five Defendants: California Medical Facility-Vacaville
physicians (1) Dr. David M. Mathis ("Mathis") and
(2) Dr. Mariana Lotasztain ("Lotasztain"); (3) J.
Clark Kelso, the court-appointed federal Receiver overseeing
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
("CDCR") medical health care system
("Kelso" or "Receiver"); (4) the Western
Interstate Corrections Compact ("WICC") Unit of the
CDCR's Sacramento Control Office ("SACCO"); and
(5) the California Correctional Health Care Services
("CCHCS") . (FAC at 3-4) . Mathis and Lotasztain are
sued in their individual capacities. (Id. at 3).
Kelso is sued in his official capacity. (Id.).
alleges that a female correctional officer raped him in an
Arizona prison, where he was housed pursuant to the WICC.
(Id. at 5) . The FACs allegations do not identify
the prison, the correctional officer, or the date of the
alleged rape(s). However, several exhibits attached to the
FAC indicate that Plaintiff complained to prison officials in
Arizona during the Spring and summer of 2008 of an alleged
rape. (See, e.g., id. at 37 (Arizona
Dep't of Corrections ("ADC") health staff
record dated May 30, 2008 reflecting that Plaintiff
complained that he had been sexually assaulted by a female
staff member on April 2, 2008); id. at 39 (ADC
grievance dated July 27, 2008 in which Plaintiff demanded
professional counseling "after being rape[d] by a
Arizona Dept of Corrections staff member").
summarily alleges that Mathis and Lotasztain "failed to
provide adequate medical treatment for a variety of
conditions and injuries, " including "further PREA
[Prison Rape Elimination Act] injuries." (Id.
at 5). CCHCS is responsible "for injuries caused when a
correctional officer raped Plaintiff in an Arizona prison,
" for failure to provide PREA follow-up mental health
care, and for failure to maintain Plaintiff's entire
mental health medical records relating to the rape, in
violation of its own regulations. (Id.). The Kelso
and the SACCO WICC Unit "failed to intervene and help
[Plaintiff] when he was being raped in the Arizona facility,
put in the hole, write up [sic] and retalliated [sic]
against." (Id.). Plaintiff also generally
alleges that he "has been denied medically necessary and
follow up treatment and care plans and necessary referrals by
CCHCS physicians . . . and [has been] stonewalled by CCHCS
Grievance Coordinator, and told [to] go away."
alleges that each of the Defendants is liable for deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.
(Id.) . Plaintiff is seeking $100, 00 in
compensatory damages, $100, 000 in punitive damages, and
$100, 000 in "nominal" damages from each Defendant,
which, in the case of CCHCS, Plaintiff specifies are for
"past or future medical costs." (Id. at 6)
28 U.S.C. section l9l5A(b), the Court must dismiss the FAC
due to multiple pleading defects. However, the Court must
grant a pro se litigant leave to amend his defective
complaint unless "it is absolutely clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by
amendment." Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212
(9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the
First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.
The FAC Fails To State A § 1983 Claim Based On The
[Western Interstate Corrections Compact] is a cooperative
agreement enacted by participating states, which provides for
the transfer of inmates of a correctional institution of one
party state to another party state, where the receiving state
has superior or more desirable facilities for rehabilitation
or treatment." Monroe v. Kernan, 2017 WL
4082365, at *4 (CD. Cal. June 15, 2017). To the extent that
Plaintiff is alleging that the CDCR's "Sacramento
Control Office" is somehow liable for implementing or
violating the WICC, the FAC fails to state a § 1983
claim because the WICC is not federal law and does not give
rise to a federally-protected liberty interest.
state compact is transformed into federal law, and thus may
be the basis for a 1983 action, when (1) it falls within the
scope of the Constitution's Compact Clause, (2) it has
received congressional consent, and (3) its subject matter is
appropriate for congressional legislation." Ghana v.
Pearce, 159 F.3d 1206, 1208 (9th Cir. 1998) (some
internal citations omitted). However, as the Ninth Circuit
explained with respect to the Interstate Corrections Compact
("ICC"), which is substantively identical to its
regional counterpart, the WICC,  such a compact is not
federal law because the procedures governing the transfer of
prisoners "are a purely local concern and there is no
federal interest absent some constitutional violation in the
treatment of these prisoners." Id. Furthermore,
the compact does not create a federally-protected liberty
interest because the application of its procedures "does
not impose an 'atypical and significant
hardship.'" Id. (quoting Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)). As such, the ICC (and
the WICC) "cannot be the basis for a section 1983
action." Ghana, 159 F.3d at 1208; see also
Daugaard v. Baldwin, 1999 WL 778585, at *7 (D. Or. Sept.
17, 1999) ("[V]iolations of the ICC and the WICC are not
subject to federal § 1983 challenges[.]").
Accordingly, the FAC must be dismissed, with leave to amend.
The Eleventh Amendment Bars Claims For Money Damages
Against The CDCR, Including Its Arms The SACCO And
sues two arms of the CDCR - the WICC Unit of the CDCR's
Sacramento Control Office, and the California Correctional
Health Care Services. (FAC at 6). However, the Eleventh
Amendment bars suits for money damages against states and
their agencies under § 1983. See Howlett v.
Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365 (1990); Taylor v. List,
880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (dismissal of civil
rights action "as to the Department of Prisons was
proper" because "[t]he Nevada Department of
Prisons, as a state agency, clearly was immune from suit
under the Eleventh Amendment"). "California has not
waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to claims
brought under § 1983 in federal court." Brown
v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 752 (9th Cir.
2009) . Therefore, the CDCR, a state agency, is protected
from suit under the Eleventh Amendment, id., as are
its arms, including the SACCO and the CCHCS. See Valdez
v. Warden of PVSP, 2017 WL 3705306, at *3 (E.D. Cal.
Aug. 28, 2017) ("Because CCHCS is a state agency, it is
entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit.").
However, a plaintiff may seek monetary damages under §
1983 from state employees in their individual capacity.
See Adler v. Lewis, 675 F.2d 1085, 1098 (9th Cir.
1982) ("State officials must be sued in their individual
capacity in an action for monetary damages.").
Accordingly, the FAC is dismissed, with leave to amend.
The FAC's Claims Against The Receiver May Be Barred
By The Doctrine Of Quasi-Judicial Immunity
alleges that J. Clark Kelso, in his official capacity as the
Receiver over the CDCR's health care services, is liable
for failing to "intervene and help [Plaintiff] when he
was being raped in the Arizona facility, put in the hole,
write up, and retalliated against [sic] ." (FAC at 5) .
As the Court explained in dismissing the original Complaint,
the Receiver may be sued in his official capacity for claims
related to the business operations of the CDCR's health
care department. See Medical Dev. Int'l v. Cal.
Dep't Corr. and Rehab., 585 F.3d 1211, 1221-22
(2009) (allowing breach of contract claim to proceed against
Receiver in his official capacity in action seeking damages
for the "Receiver's refusal to pay for services
[plaintiff] performed under contract with the CDCR").
However, Plaintiff is advised that the Receiver's acts or
omissions related to inmate medical needs may be protected
from suit pursuant to the doctrine of quasi-judicial
quasi-judicial immunity from damages for civil rights
violations" applies when non-judicial officers
"perform tasks that are an integral part of the judicial
process." Mullis v. U.S. Bankr. Court for the Dist.
of Nev., 828 F.2d 1385, 1390 (9th Cir. 1987); see
also In re Castillo, 297 F.3d 940, 947 (9th Cir. 2002)
("Absolute judicial immunity . . . extends to
nonjudicial officers for 'all claims relating to the
exercise of judicial functions.'") (quoting
Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 499 (1991) (Scalia, J.,
concurring in part and dissenting in part)). The two primary
exceptions to judicial immunity arise when the judge's
action is "not taken in the judge's judicial
capacity, " and when the judge's action,
"though judicial in nature, is taken in complete absence
of all jurisdiction." Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S.
9, 11-12 (1991); see also Burton v. Infinity Capital
Mgmt., 753 F.3d 954, 961 (9th Cir. 2014) (immunity
exists "even in the absence of a judicial directive so
long as the acts were not done in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction") (internal quotation marks omitted).
Receivers may be eligible for quasi-judicial immunity.
Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 442 (9th Cir.
1978) ("[A]bsolute immunity has been extended to other
officials of the judiciary: clerks of court, ...