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Aguilera v. Ducart

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 3, 2019

C. E. DUCART, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”) has filed the instant pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that, on May 24, 2017, PBSP officers Molina, Hendrix, Gonzalez and Vick used excessive force on him and PBSP Warden Ducart was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Dkt. No. 1; Dkt. No. 11. Now pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 16. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion to dismiss and GRANTS Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint.


         I. Complaint

         The complaint makes the following allegations.

         On May 24, 2017, in the course of responding to an incident, Defendant Molina ordered correctional officials to use deadly force against plaintiff which resulted in plaintiff being shot in the face on Facility 4B-3 yard between the urinals and 5 block. Dkt. No. 1 (“Compl.”) at 6. Defendant Vick intentionally targeted plaintiff while plaintiff was unarmed and not a threat, and used deadly force by shooting plaintiff in the face with a mini 14 Ruger. Id. Defendant Hendrix used excessive and deadly force when he fired multiple shots at plaintiff while plaintiff was unarmed and not a threat. Id. Defendant Gonzalez used excessive force when he shot plaintiff multiple times while plaintiff was unarmed and not a threat. Id. When Officers Buchannan and Rippetoe picked plaintiff up to transfer him to CTC, Defendant Ducart yelled at them, “You should let him die there.” Id.

         The Court found that, liberally construed, these allegations stated a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim against PBSP prison guards Molina, Hendrix, Gonzalez and Vick for use of excessive force, and against PBSP Warden Ducart for deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs. Dkt. No. 11.

         II. Request for Judicial Notice

         The Court GRANTS Defendants' unopposed request for judicial notice (“RJN”) of the following pleadings in Ulloa v. Jacobsen, C No. 4:18-cv-0319 HSG (N.D. Cal.): (1) Complaint, filed May 1, 2018, docketed at Dkt. No. 1; and (2) Order of Service, filed Sept. 1, 2018, docketed at Dkt. No. 7, because they are pleadings filed in a court and have a direct relation to the matters at issue, and because these pleadings can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. See U.S. ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992) (federal courts may “take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to the matters at issue.”); Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). However, while the Court takes judicial notice of these court documents, the Court does not take judicial notice of the documents for the truth of the matters asserted in them. In re Bare Escentuals, Inc. Sec. Lit., 745 F.Supp.2d 1052, 1067 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (in considering defendant's motion to dismiss, court took judicial notice of existence of unrelated court documents, but declined to take judicial notice of truth of matters set forth in these documents); see also McMunigal v. Bloch, No. C 10-02765 SI, 2010 WL 5399219, *2 n.1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2010) (granting judicial notice of documents filed in another lawsuit for purposes of noticing existence of lawsuit, claims made in lawsuit, and that various documents were filed, but not for truth of matters asserted in the documents). In other words, the Court recognizes that these documents were filed in Ulloa but does not assume the truth of the allegations in the Ulloa pleadings.

         III. Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants seek dismissal of the complaint on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff has made no allegations that Defendants Hendrix, Molina or Gonzalez used force on him and Plaintiff's allegations do not support an excessive force claim against Defendant Vick; and (2) Warden Ducart's alleged conduct cannot constitute deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs because the alleged conduct did not harm Plaintiff.

         A. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss an action based on the complaint's failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of the claim alleged. See Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim or claims that would entitle him to relief. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); see also Palmer v. Roosevelt Lake Log Owners Ass'n, 651 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1981). The issue is “not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims” advanced in his or her complaint. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984). “[A] complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations; rather, it must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067-68 (9th Cir. 2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007).

         In considering such a motion, a court must take all allegations of material fact as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, although “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal.” Cousins, 568 F.3d at 1067. All ambiguities or doubts must also be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). “[T]o ensure that pro se litigants do not lose their right to a hearing on the merits of their claim due to ignorance of technical procedural requirements[, ]” the pleadings of pro se ...

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