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Brown v. Newsom

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2019

DEXTER BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
GAVIN NEWSOM, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Plaintiff has not filed an in forma pauperis affidavit or paid the required filing fee of $350.00 plus the $50.00 administrative fee.[1] See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(a). For the reasons listed below, the undersigned shall recommend that plaintiff be ordered to pay the filing fee prior to proceeding any further with this action.

         I. APPLICABLE LAW: 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)

         Section 1915(g) states:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the 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 may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

         II. PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when they forced him to be on a special renal diet knowing full well that plaintiff would refuse the meals.[2] (See ECF No. 1 at 4-5). He contends that his refusal of the meals has led to “mineral depletion” which has, in turn, put him in imminent danger of serious physical harm. (See ECF No. 1 at 3).

         Plaintiff has not filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, nor has he paid the filing fee. Instead, plaintiff points out that he is a three-strikes litigant under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) and alleges that he is in imminent physical danger.[3] As a three-strikes litigant, a finding that plaintiff is in imminent danger of serious physical harm would eliminate his obligation to pay the filing fee. See generally 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Because plaintiff is a three strikes litigant, requiring plaintiff to file an in forma pauperis application with the court before proceeding any further with this action would be an exercise in futility. Instead, the more expedient course of action is for the court to require plaintiff either to pay the filing fee or to show that he was in imminent danger of serious physical harm at the time he filed the instant action. See generally id. The court considers below whether plaintiff has shown that he was in imminent danger at the time he filed the complaint.

         Plaintiff has chosen to starve himself in order to avoid receiving a diet currently prescribed to him. With rare exception, a plaintiff cannot “create the imminent danger so as to escape the three strikes provision of the PLRA.” Ransom v. Hubbard, No. 1:11-cv-00875 GBC (PC), 2012 WL 3704760, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2012) (citations omitted); see Taylor v. Walker, No. 07-706 MJR, 2007 WL 4365718, at *2 (S.D. Ill.Dec. 11, 2007); see also Bell v. Allen, No. 06-0496 CG M, 2007 WL 484547, at *2 (S.D. Ala. Feb.8, 2007); Muhammed v. McDonough, No. 3:06-cv-527-J-32TEM, 2006 WL 1640128, at *1 n.1 (M.D. Fla. June 9, 2006); Wallace v. Cockrell, No. 3:03-MC-98-K, 2003 WL 22961212, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Oct.27, 2003). Typically, “self-harm is not encompassed within the statutory reference to ‘imminent danger of serious bodily injury'. If that were the case, virtually every prisoner plaintiff could make such a claim.” Fails v. Simon, No. 3:09-cv-525 RV MD, 2009 WL 5217072, at *2 (N.D. Fla. Dec. 30, 2009); but see Sanders v. Melvin, 873 F.3d 957, 961 (7th Cir. 2018) (stating self-harm as consequence of condition that prompted suit warrants treatment of allegation as imminent physical injury). Moreover, plaintiff does not allege that he has been deprived of his constitutional right to nutritionally adequate meals. See McElyea v. Babbitt, 833 F.3d 196, 198 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted) (acknowledging right to be provided with food sufficient to sustain one in good health that satisfies law of religion).

         For these reasons, plaintiff has not established that he was in imminent danger of serious physical injury at the time he filed the instant complaint. Consequently, the undersigned shall recommend that plaintiff be ordered to pay the ...


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