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Smith v. Brangwynne

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 10, 2019

DENNIS SMITH, CDCR #AX-8010, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY K. BRANGWYNNE; DEPUTY S. CARDA; DEPUTY C. FICKETT; DEPUTY J. HANN; DEPUTY J. KLIEBENSTEIN; DEPUTY A. MENDOZA; COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          ORDER: 1) DISMISSING DEFENDANT SAN DIEGO CENTRAL JAIL; AND 2) DIRECTING USMS TO EFFECT SERVICE OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

          HON. CATHY ANN BENCIVENGO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Procedural History

         On April 2, 2019, Plaintiff, Dennis Smith, currently a state inmate housed at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (“SATF”) located in Corcoran, California, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). In addition, he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff alleged his constitutional rights were violated when he was a pretrial detainee housed at the San Diego Central Jail (“SDCJ”) in 2018. The Court GRANTED Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP and DISMISSED some claims and Defendants for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b). (ECF No. 5.) On June 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 6.)

         II. Sua Sponte Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his FAC requires a pre-Answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] 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, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

          Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a cause of action for the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. Wyatt v. Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 161 (1992). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Long v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006).

         B. Waived Defendant

         Plaintiff initially named Defendant San Diego Central Jail in his original Complaint. (ECF No. 1.) However, on May 14, 2019, the Court dismissed the claims against Defendant San Diego Central Jail for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) & § 1915A. (ECF No. 5 at 10.) Plaintiff was cautioned that any “[d]efendants not named and any claim not re-alleged in his Amended Complaint will be considered waived.” (Id. citing S.D. Cal. CivLR 15.1; Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1989) (“[A]n amended pleading supersedes the original.”); Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that claims dismissed with leave to amend which are not re-alleged in an amended pleading may be “considered waived if not repled.”).

         In his FAC, Plaintiff no longer San Diego Central Jail as a Defendant. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has waived all claims against this Defendant and DISMISSES Defendant San Diego Central Jail from this action.

         C. Remaining Claims

         However, the Court finds Plaintiff's FAC contains allegations against the remaining Defendants sufficient to survive the “low threshold” for proceeding past the sua sponte screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). See Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1123. Accordingly, the Court will direct U.S. Marshal service upon the remaining Defendants on Plaintiff's behalf. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) (“The officers of the court shall issue and serve all process, and perform all duties in [IFP] cases.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3) (“[T]he court may order that ...


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