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Cruz v. Baker

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 24, 2019

GUILLERMO TRUJILLO CRUZ, Plaintiff,
v.
B. BAKER, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT PLAINTIFF BE DENIED LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) AND THAT PLAINTIFF BE REQUIRED TO PAY THE $400.00 FILING FEE IN FULL WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Guillermo Trujillo Cruz (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On July 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has not paid the $400.00 filing fee or submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         II. THREE-STRIKES PROVISION OF 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)

         28 U.S.C. § 1915 governs proceedings in forma pauperis. Section 1915(g) provides that “[i]n no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action . . . 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.”

         “This subdivision is commonly known as the ‘three strikes' provision.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1116 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005) (hereafter “Andrews”). “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, [1] “[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).

         “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). Once a prisoner has accumulated three strikes, he is prohibited by section 1915(g) from pursuing any other IFP action in federal court unless he can show 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”).

         While the PLRA does not require a prisoner to declare that § 1915(g) does not bar his request to proceed IFP, Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119, “[i]n some instances, the district court docket records may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one of the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike.” Id. at 1120. When applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), however, the court must “conduct a careful evaluation of the order dismissing an action, and other relevant information, ” before determining that the action “was dismissed because it was frivolous, malicious or failed to state a claim, ” since “not all unsuccessful cases qualify as a strike under § 1915(g).” Id. at 1121.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A review of the actions filed by Plaintiff reveals that Plaintiff is subject to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and is precluded from proceeding in forma pauperis unless Plaintiff was, at the time the Complaint was filed, under imminent danger of serious physical injury. Plaintiff has filed numerous unsuccessful cases in the Eastern District of California under the names “Guillermo Trujillo Cruz, ” “Guillermo Cruz Trujillo, ” and “Guillermo Trujillo.” Court records reflect that on at least three prior occasions Plaintiff has brought actions while incarcerated that were dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court takes judicial notice of the following four cases:

(1) Cruz v. Munoz, No. 1:14-cv-01215-SAB (PC) (E.D. Cal.) (dismissed for failure to state a claim on May 17, 2016);
(2) Cruz v. Munoz, No. 1:14-cv-00976-DLB (PC) (E.D. Cal.) (dismissed for failure to state a claim on May 11, 2016);
(3) Cruz v. Ruiz, No. 1:14-cv-00975-SAB (PC) (E.D. Cal.) (dismissed for failure to state a claim on January 6, 2016); and
(4) Trujillo v. Sherman, No. 1:14-cv-01401-BAM (PC) (E.D. Cal.) (dismissed for failure to state a claim ...

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