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Dunigan v. CDCR

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 19, 2019

KEVIN DUNIGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CDCR, et al., Defendant.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         I. Three Strikes Analysis

         Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). ECF No. 3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) permits any court of the United States to authorize the commencement and prosecution of any suit without prepayment of fees by a person who submits an affidavit indicating that the person is unable to pay such fees. However,

[i]n no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgement in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more 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). The plain language of the statute makes clear that a prisoner is precluded from bringing a civil action or an appeal in forma pauperis if the prisoner has brought three frivolous actions and/or appeals (or any combination thereof totaling three). Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1178 (9th Cir. 1999). “[Section] 1915(g) should be used to deny a prisoner's [in forma pauperis] status only when, after careful evaluation of the order dismissing an action, and other relevant information, the district court determines that the action was dismissed because it was frivolous, malicious or failed to state a claim.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). “[W]hen a district court disposes of an in forma pauperis complaint ‘on the grounds that [the claim] is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,' such a complaint is ‘dismissed' for purposes of § 1915(g) even if the district court styles such dismissal as 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) (second alteration in original). Dismissal also counts as a strike under § 1915(g) “when (1) a district court dismisses a complaint on the ground that it fails to state a claim, (2) the court grants leave to amend, and (3) the plaintiff then fails to file an amended complaint” regardless of whether the case was dismissed with or without prejudice. Harris v. Mangum, 863 F.3d 1133, 1142-43 (9th Cir. 2017).

         Inspection of other cases filed by plaintiff in this court has led to the identification of at least three cases brought by plaintiff that qualify as strikes. The court takes judicial notice of the following lawsuits filed by plaintiff:[1]

1. Dunigan v. California Department of Corrections, E.D. Cal. No. 2:01-cv-1591 WBS JFM (complaint dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim, case dismissed on March 29, 2002, for failure to file an amended complaint);
2. Dunigan v. United States, E.D. Cal. No. 2:10-cv-2992 JAM KJN (case dismissed as frivolous on May 2, 2011);
3. Dunigan v. United States, E.D. Cal. No. 2:12-cv-3048 TLN CKD (complaint dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim; case dismissed on September 16, 2013, for failure to file an amended complaint).

         All of the preceding cases were dismissed well in advance of the December 8, 2019 filing[2]of the instant action and none of the strikes have been overturned. Therefore, this court finds that plaintiff is precluded from proceeding in forma pauperis unless she is “under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). To satisfy the exception, plaintiff must have alleged facts that demonstrate that she was “under imminent danger of serious physical injury” at the time of filing the complaint. Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1053 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[I]t is the circumstances at the time of the filing of the complaint that matters for purposes of the ‘imminent danger' exception to § 1915(g).”); see also, Abdul-Akbar v. McKelvie, 239 F.3d 307, 312-14 (3rd Cir. 2001); Medberry v. Butler, 185 F.3d 1189, 1192-93 (11th Cir. 1999); Ashley v. Dilworth, 147 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1998); Banos v. O'Guin, 144 F.3d 883, 885 (5th Cir. 1998).

         The complaint names ninety-six defendants, including individuals and both private and government entities, and makes allegations regarding plaintiff's conviction, his ability to use the administrative appeals process, interference with previous lawsuits, unspecified retaliation, and various conspiracies. However, none of the allegations demonstrate an imminent risk of serious physical injury at the time of filing, and the undersigned will therefore recommend that plaintiff be required to pay the filing fee in full or have the complaint dismissed.

         II. Plain Language Summary of this Order for a Pro Se Litigant

         You have at least three strikes under § 1915(g) and cannot be granted in forma pauperis status unless you show the court that you were in imminent danger of serious physical injury at the time you filed the complaint. You have not shown that you were in imminent danger of serious physical injury and ...


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