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Frost v. D. Wilcox

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 3, 2020

D. WILCOX, et al., Defendants.


          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS United States District Judge


         Plaintiff Shawn Kevin Frost, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at California State Prison-Sacramento (“SAC”), has filed a pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The operative complaint in this action is the amended complaint, in which Plaintiff alleged constitutional rights violations at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP” or “Pelican Bay”) where he was previously incarcerated. Dkt. 10 at 3-7.[1] In his amended complaint, Plaintiff has named the following Defendants at PBSP and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”): Warden Clark E. Ducart; Chief Deputy Warden D. W. Bradbury; Associate Warden C. Olsen; Captain T. S. Buchanan; Lieutenant D. Higgerson; Sergeant J. Schrag; Correctional Officer T. Toussaint; Correctional Counselor II D. Wilcox; Office of Appeals Chief M. Voong; and Office of Appeals Captain M. Hodges. Id. at 2. Plaintiff has sought declaratory relief and monetary damages. Id. at 3, 7. Specifically, Plaintiff's claims stemmed from Defendants' alleged retaliation for his filing an appeal, log no. PBSP-16-01431, on July 6, 2016 naming several supervisorial and custody staff as co-conspirators of malfeasance. Plaintiff alleged that three days later, on July 9, 2016, he was rehoused in a cell “which lacked a seat/stool, no desk or table to eat meals [or] write, no electrical power to use his approved personal property . . . and a broken sink . . . .” Id. at 3. Plaintiff claimed that he was placed in such inadequate housing for approximately 5 months or until around November 2016 before he was “moved back to adequate and appropriate/normal general population housing.” Id. at 5-6. According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff filed another appeal, log no PBSP-16-01584, in which he raised his claims in this action. Plaintiff's specific claims have been isolated as follows: (1) Defendants Schrag, Wilcox, and Buchanan retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of his First Amendment rights; and (2) Defendants Olsen, Bradbury, Higgerson, Hodges, Voong, and Toussaint were aware of the unconstitutional actions but failed to take correct action by denying Plaintiff's related grievance, also in violation of his First Amendment rights. In an Order dated January 16, 2019, the Court found the aforementioned claims to be cognizable and dismissed Plaintiff's supervisory liability claim against Defendant Ducart without prejudice.

         The parties are presently before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 30. Plaintiff has filed an opposition to Defendants' motion, and Defendants have filed a reply. Dkts. 35, 38. Plaintiff has also filed two motions entitled as follows: “Plaintiff's Request for an Immediate Issuing of the Court's Order for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”)” and “Plaintiff's Second Set of Documents Requesting the Court to Order Defendants to Authenticate.” Dkts. 22, 24. Defendants have filed responses to Plaintiff's two pending motions. Dkts. 23, 26.

         For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's two pending motions are DENIED, and Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be resolved in a separate written Order.


         Plaintiff's first pending motion, which is entitled “Plaintiff's Request for an Immediate Issuing of the Court's Order for a [TRO], ” is styled as a request for a TRO. Dkt. 22. As Defendants point out, a TRO “maintains the status quo until there is an opportunity to give all parties notice and determine whether a preliminary injunction should be issued.” Dkt. 23 at 3 (citing Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 65(b)). Defendants further point out that “Plaintiff's motion is better understood as a motion for a preliminary injunction, given that Defendants now have the opportunity to be heard.” Id. at 3. The Court agrees with Defendants and thus it construes the pending motion as Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. See Zepeda v. INS, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir. 1983) (a motion for preliminary injunction cannot be decided until the parties to the action are served).

         The standard for issuing either a TRO or a preliminary injunction is the same. See Beaty v. Brewer, 649 F.3d 1071, 1076 (9th Cir. 2011) (affirming the district court's denial of the appellant's motion for a TRO or preliminary injunction discussing either as under the same standard for issuing preliminary injunctive relief). However, an injunction is binding only on parties to the action, their officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys and those "in active concert or participation” with them. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(d). To enforce an injunction against an individual or entity, the district court must have personal jurisdiction over them. In re Estate of Ferdinand Marcos, 94 F.3d 539, 545 (9th Cir. 1996). An injunction against a party over whom the court lacks personal jurisdiction would be futile because the court would be powerless to enforce it. Id.

         Here, in his motion for a preliminary injunction, Plaintiff claims that unnamed correctional staff at SAC revealed information related to his conviction offenses of kidnapping and several sex crimes, specifically acting with deliberate indifference to his health and safety in providing other inmates with documents detailing his conviction of such crimes. See Dkt. 22 at 1-2.

         As mentioned, Defendants have filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. See Dkt. 23. They argue that the motion should be denied because the Court “lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the new allegations in the instant motion, ” stating as follows:

In this instance, the events giving rise to the claims in this action occurred between June and August 2016 that occurred at Pelican Bay. The events of which Plaintiff complains in his motion, are events that occurred since those dates, and after his transfer out of Pelican Bay. The issues of Plaintiff's alleged safety issues related to disseminated documents regarding his conviction offenses, the adequacy of his access to SAC's law library, and SAC's alleged failure to meet his current housing needs, are not being litigated in this action. The Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over these new issues and, therefore, has no jurisdiction to issue the order sought.

Id. at 3-4. Defendants further argue that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over the unnamed correctional officers at SAC because they are not parties to this action, stating:

Also in this instance, the events giving rise to the claims in this action concern alleged actions and decisions by named Pelican Bay and CDCR Headquarters' defendants. This motion, however, refers to alleged actions by unnamed correctional officers at SAC. Of those CDCR Headquarters' staff members Plaintiff named in his complaint, Defendants Voong and Hodges, both are employed with the Office of Appeals, which is the entity of CDCR tasked with the third-level review of inmates' custody-related grievances and appeals received from CDCR's adult institutions. Staff at the Office of Appeals have no direct oversight of the operations of CDCR's adult institutions. None of the other named Defendants in this action have since taken positions at SAC, or taken positions with direct supervision of correctional officers at SAC. There is no evidence that indicates that any of the named Defendants, in this instant action, possess the authority to take action on a preliminary injunction regarding Plaintiff's concerns with SAC correctional officers. In this way, there is nothing in Plaintiff's motion that describes how the named Defendants may be bound by the Court's issuance of a preliminary injunction on his complained issues.

Id. at 4. The Court agrees with Defendants and finds that it lacks jurisdiction to rule on Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, given that his motion concerns new allegations made against unidentified SAC staff, whereas the instant action arises out of alleged incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at PBSP and not from incidents that flowed from, or occurred during, the events alleged in his motion. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion for a ...

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