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Chatman v. Hussien

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 1, 2019

ERIC CHATMAN, CDCR #BI-6355, Plaintiff,
SADDAM HUSSIEN, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Larry Alan Burns- Chief United States District Judge.

         Eric Chatman (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Compl., ECF No. 1. Chatman seeks to sue the former, and now deceased, President of the Republic of Iraq, his wife, his kids, his grandkids, and all his allies and generals for “try[ing] to kill [him]” sometime around August 2018, because he is the son of a U.S. Marine, and after Chatman “read him his rights” at a McDonalds. Id. at 1-3.

         Plaintiff did not pay the civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) at the time he filed his Complaint; instead, he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 2). He has since filed two letters addressed to the Court which repeat and expand on the delusional allegations in his Complaint and express his thanks. See ECF Nos. 4, 7. Plaintiff's letters were accepted for filing in light of his pro se status, and despite Local Civil Rule 83.9, which clearly prohibits such ex parte communications. See ECF Nos. 3, 6.

         I. Motion to Proceed IFP

         A. Standard of Review “All persons, not just prisoners, may seek IFP status.” Moore v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 657 F.3d 890, 892 (9th Cir. 2011). Prisoners like Plaintiff, however, “face an additional hurdle.” Id. In addition to requiring prisoners to “pay the full amount of a filing fee, ” in “monthly installments” or “increments” as provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3)(b), Bruce v. Samuels, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016); Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) amended section 1915 to preclude the privilege to proceed IFP:

. . if [a] prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). “This subdivision is commonly known as the ‘three strikes' provision.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1116 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005).

         “Pursuant to § 1915(g), a prisoner with three strikes or more cannot proceed IFP.” Id.; see also Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007) (hereafter “Cervantes”) (under the PLRA, “[p]risoners who have repeatedly brought unsuccessful suits may entirely be barred from IFP status under the three strikes rule[.]”). The objective of the PLRA is to further “the congressional goal of reducing frivolous prisoner litigation in federal court.” Tierney v. Kupers, 128 F.3d 1310, 1312 (9th Cir. 1997). “[S]ection 1915(g)'s cap on prior dismissed claims applies to claims dismissed both before and after the statute's effective date.” Id. at 1311.

         “Strikes are prior cases or appeals, brought while the plaintiff was a prisoner, which were dismissed on the ground that they were frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim, ” Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1116 n.1 (internal quotations omitted), “even if the district court styles such dismissal as a denial of the prisoner's application to file the action without prepayment of the full filing fee.” O'Neal v. Price, 531 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2008); see also El-Shaddai v. Zamora, 833 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2016) (noting that when court “review[s] a dismissal to determine whether it counts as a strike, the style of the dismissal or the procedural posture is immaterial. Instead, the central question is whether the dismissal ‘rang the PLRA bells of frivolous, malicious, or failure to state a claim.'”) (quoting Blakely v. Wards, 738 F.3d 607, 615 (4th Cir. 2013)).

         Once a prisoner has accumulated three strikes, he is prohibited by section 1915(g) from pursuing any other IFP civil action or appeal in federal court unless he alleges he is facing “imminent danger of serious physical injury.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1051-52 (noting § 1915(g)'s exception for IFP complaints which “make[] a plausible allegation that the prisoner faced ‘imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.”).

         B. Application to Plaintiff The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint and his letters, and concludes none of these pleadings contain any “plausible allegations” to suggest he “faced ‘imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.” Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1055 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)). Instead, as described above, Plaintiff seeks to sue the former President of Iraq for trying to posthumously kill him in a McDonalds restaurant. See Compl., ECF No. 1 at 3; In re Gonzalez, 2008 WL 666465 at *2-3 (N.D. Cal. March 6, 2008) (finding prisoner with a “delusional tale” of having a “special genetic structure, ” and being “irradiated … by radioactive smoke” by “government scientists, ” did not plausibly allege “imminent danger of serious physical injury.”); Holz v. McFadden, 2010 WL 3069745 at *3 (C.D. Cal. May 21, 2010) (finding “imminent danger” exception to § 1915(g) inapplicable where prisoner implausibly claimed the FBI and BOP were “going to kill him.”); Sierra v. Woodford, 2010 WL 1657493 at *3 (E.D. Cal. April 23, 2010) (finding “long, narrative, rambling statements regarding a cycle of violence, and vague references to motives to harm” insufficient to show Plaintiff faced an “ongoing danger” as required by Cervantes).

         If this were not enough, Plaintiff's claims are clearly delusional and patently frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) (requiring sua sponte dismissal of prisoner complaints, or any portions of them, which are “frivolous, malicious, or fail[ ] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”); Coleman v. Tollefson, 135 S.Ct. 1759, 1764 (2015). “The purpose of § 1915A is to ‘ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.”' Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 907 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal citation omitted). O'Loughlin v. Doe, 920 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1990) (a complaint “is frivolous if it has no arguable basis in fact or law.”).

         And while Defendants typically carry the burden to show that a prisoner is not entitled to proceed IFP, Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119, “in some instances, the district court docket may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one on the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike.” Id. at 1120. That is the case here.

         A court may take judicial notice of its own records, see Molus v. Swan, Civil Case No. 3:05-cv-00452-MMA-WMc, 2009 WL 160937, *2 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 22, 2009) (citing United States v. Author Services, 804 F.2d 1520, 1523 (9th Cir. 1986)); Gerritsen v. Warner Bros. Entm't Inc., 112 F.Supp.3d 1011, 1034 (C.D. Cal. 2015), and “‘may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at ...

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