United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
DOUGLAS F. MCCORMICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
26, 2019, Dwight Belton (“Plaintiff) filed a pro
se civil rights complaint against Gavin Newsom, the
Governor of California, Ralph Diaz, the Secretary of the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(“CDCR”), and Dean Borders, the former Warden at
the California Institution for Men. See Dkt. 1
(“Compl.”) at 3. All defendants are named in their
official and individual capacity. See id
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to § 1915(e)(2), the court must dismiss the case at any
time if it determines the allegation of poverty is untrue, or
if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief against an immune defendant.
standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to
state a claim under § 1915(e)(2) is the same as under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v.
Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Although
pro se pleadings are liberally construed, a
complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim if
it fails to set forth “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 562-563 (2007).
“[A] plaintiffs obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do.
Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the
complaint's allegations are true.” Id.
(citations omitted). Although a court must accept as true all
factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need
not accept a plaintiffs legal conclusions as true. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Complaint is difficult to follow. As best the Court can
understand, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied the right to
participate in a CDCR fire camp as a volunteer firefighter
due to having an unspecified disability. See Compl.
at 5-7. Participation in the program entitles an inmate to
time off his or her sentence. See id at 6-7.
Plaintiff brings claims for violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Equal Protection
Clause. He seeks monetary damages. See id. at 10-11.
has named as defendants Governor Newsom, Secretary Diaz, and
Warden Borders. In their official capacity, these individuals
are properly considered public entities under Title II.
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985)
(recognizing that “[o]fficial-capacity suits . . .
generally represent only another way of pleading an action
against an entity of which an officer is an agent.”).
Title II of the ADA, however, does not provide for individual
capacity suits against state officials. See 29
U.S.C. § 794(b); 42 U.S.C. § 12131; Vinson v.
Thomas, 288 F.3d 1145, 1155-56 (9th Cir. 2002).
Consequently, Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims are
II of the ADA provides that “no qualified individual
with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be
excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of
the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or
be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42
U.S.C. § 12132. To state an ADA claim, a plaintiff must
allege that he or she: (1) has a disability; (2) is otherwise
qualified to participate in or receive the benefit of some
public entity's services, programs, or activities; (3)
was either excluded from participation in or denied the
benefits of the public entity's services, programs, or
activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the
public entity; and (4) such exclusion, denial of benefits, or
discrimination was by reason of the plaintiff's
disability. See Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895
(9th Cir. 2002). Although Title II of the ADA does not
expressly provide for reasonable accommodations, one of its
implementing regulations does. See 28 C.F.R. §
construed, the Complaint states a cognizable claim under the
ADA. Plaintiff alleges that he is an individual with a
(unspecified) disability; he is otherwise qualified to
participate in the CDCR's fire camp program, he has been
excluded from participating in the program, and the only
reason he has been excluded is by reason of his disability.
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that CDCR has refused to make
reasonable accommodations in its policies to avoid
discriminating against Plaintiff based on his disability.
also suggests that the state officials violated § 1983
by denying him equal protection of the law. A plaintiff
cannot bring a § 1983 action if “Congress has
foreclosed citizen enforcement in the enactment itself,
either explicitly, or implicitly by imbuing it with its own
comprehensive remedial scheme.” Buckley v. City of
Redding, Cal., 66 F.3d 188, 190 (9th Cir. 1995). Title
II of the ADA provides such a “comprehensive remedial
scheme.” Vinson, 288 F.3d at 1155-56; see
also Okwu v. McKim, 682 F.3d 841, 845 (9th Cir. 2012)
(“In Vinson we held that the remedial scheme
of Title II of the ADA was comprehensive enough to foreclose
§ 1983 actions.”).
Plaintiff would face a stiff hurdle in stating an equal
protection claim. “Because ‘the disabled do not
constitute a suspect class' for equal protection
purposes, a governmental policy that purposefully treats the
disabled differently from the non-disabled need only be
‘rationally related to legitimate legislative
goals' to pass constitutional muster.” Lee v.
City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 687 (9th Cir. 2001)
(quoting Does 1-5 v. Chandler, 83 F.3d 1150, 1155
(9th Cir. 1996)). Courts have previously found that the
decision to deny camp placement based on disability is
rationally related to the CDCR's legitimate ...