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Smith v. Anannias

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 21, 2019

JACK ROBERT SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL ANNANIAS, Defendant(s).

          ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Jack Robert Smith (“Smith”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”). Smith appears to be alleging a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights, and may also be attempting to state a First Amendment retaliation claim and a state law claim for defamation. For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the SAC with leave to amend.

         II.

         BACKGROUND

         Smith is a civilly committed detainee at Metropolitan State Hospital. See Smith v. Oreol, No. CV 17-5943-JFW (KK), 2018 WL 6682424, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2018), report and recommendation adopted, No. CV 17-5943-JFW-KK, 2018 WL 6681192 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 19, 2018).[1] On November 15, 2012, Smith was ordered committed to the care of Patton State Hospital for a period not to exceed nineteen years and eight months based on findings by the Los Angeles County Superior Court that he was guilty of assault with a firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, and exhibiting a firearm, but that Smith was not sane within the meaning of Section 1026 of the California Penal Code (“Section 1026”) at the time of the commission of the offense.[2]Id.

         On March 7, 2019, Smith constructively filed[3] a Complaint against the medical director of Metropolitan State Hospital, Paul Annanias (“Annanias”), alleging a violation of Smith's Fourteenth Amendment rights. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1. Smith alleged Annanias “‘failed to perform his legal/moral duty as a doctor' by intentionally not providing a remedy to [Smith's] Complaint of ‘suffering from emotional distress,' as a result of ‘unnecessary hospitalization.'” Id. at 11.

         On March 26, 2019, the Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 6.

         On April 7, 2019, Smith constructively filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against defendant Alex Sabha (“Sabha”), a psychiatrist at Metropolitan State Hospital, in his individual capacity. Dkt. 7. Smith alleged Sabha violated Smith's Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights by punishing Smith and intentionally causing Smith emotional harm by writing false and “damaging” reports regarding Smith's mental health with the goal of keeping Smith unnecessarily hospitalized. Id.

         On May 2, 2019, the Court dismissed the FAC with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 8.

         On May 23, 2019, Smith filed the SAC against Sabha in his individual capacity. Dkt. 10. Smith alleges he met with Sabha on January 3, 2019, the day after Smith was transferred from Patton State Hospital to Metropolitan State Hospital. Id. at 4. Smith alleges Sabha wrote a “false baseless malicious report[]” diagnosing Smith as bipolar “with no factual basis” for such diagnosis “within minutes of meeting” Smith in order to punish him. Id. at 4. Smith also alleges Sabha wrote the false report “to retaliate against [Smith] for [Smith's] lawsuit against a Patton [State Hospital] employee, ” which Smith had told Sabha about in their meeting. Id. In addition, Smith claims a false bipolar diagnosis is sufficient to state a claim for defamation. Id. Smith seeks monetary and punitive damages. Id. at 7.

         III.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Where a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, a court must screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (“Rule 8”), 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). In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, a court applies the same pleading standard as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss ...


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