Charles Lee Peoples, Jr. v. Los Angeles County Sheriff Dept et al

Filing 5

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND by Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal. The Complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend. If Plaintiff still wishes to pursue this action, he is granted thirty (30) days from the date of thi s Memorandum and Order within which to file a First Amended Complaint. In any amended complaint, Plaintiff shall cure the defects described above. Plaintiff is strongly encouraged to utilize the standard civil rights complaint form when filing any am ended complaint, a copy of which is attached. Plaintiff is further advised that if he no longer wishes to pursue this action, he may voluntarily dismiss it by filing a Notice of Dismissal in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1). A form Notice of Dismissal is attached for Plaintiffs convenience. (See document for further details). (Attachments: # 1 Civil Rights Complaint Form, # 2 Notice of Dismissal Form) (mr)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CHARLES LEE PEOPLES, JR., 12 Plaintiff, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING v. 13 14 Case No. CV 17-03756 SVW (SS) LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, et al., 15 COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND Defendants. 16 17 I. 18 INTRODUCTION 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Plaintiff Charles Lee Peoples, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, has Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. filed a Civil (Dkt. No. 1). Rights Congress mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portion thereof, before service of process if the complaint (1) is frivolous or malicious, 1 (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or 2 (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such 3 relief. 4 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). For the reasons 5 stated below, the Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.1 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1-2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 6 7 II. 8 FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS 9 10 It is not entirely clear who Plaintiff is attempting to sue. 11 The “Los Angeles County Sheriff Department” (“LACSD”) is the named 12 defendant in the caption of the Complaint. 13 at 1). 14 Complaint, he names only an anonymous employee of the North County 15 Correctional Facility (“NCCF”), where he was housed at the time of 16 the alleged incident. 17 also requests an official review of “the deputies involved.” 18 at 6). 19 individual or official capacity. (Complaint (“Compl.”) However, in the list of defendants in the body of the (Id. at 3). In his prayer for relief, he (Id. He does not specify whether Defendants are sued in an (Id.). 20 21 The Complaint summarily alleges that, on May 14, 2016, a 22 lieutenant ordered Plaintiff and other inmates to clean a dorm. 23 (Id. at 5). 24 left the air polluted by “hazardous and toxic fumes.” 25 Plaintiff 26 27 28 and The room had recently been used for welding, which five other inmates worked in the room (Id.). without A magistrate judge may dismiss a complaint with leave to amend without the approval of a district judge. See McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991). 1 2 1 ventilation, lost consciousness, and were “emergency escorted” to 2 the infirmary. 3 injuries as a result of the incident. (Id.). Plaintiff claims to suffer from continuing (Id. at 5-6). 4 5 The specific grounds for Plaintiff’s claims are unclear. 6 However, the Complaint 7 Defendants are liable under the Eighth Amendment for cruel and 8 unusual 9 “inflicting harm to inmates,” “safety violations” and “abuse of punishment, as appears a (Id. at 5). to result allege of that requiring LACSD and forced Doe labor, 10 authority.” He also alleges a state law negligence 11 claim. (Id.). Plaintiff prays for five million dollars in damages, 12 “disciplinary action” and an “official review” of the deputies and 13 the facility. (Id. at 6). 14 15 III. 16 DISCUSSION 17 18 Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the 19 Complaint due to pleading defects. 20 pro se litigant leave to amend his defective complaint unless “it 21 is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could 22 not be cured by amendment.” 23 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). 24 It is not “absolutely clear” that at least some of the defects of 25 Plaintiff’s 26 Complaint is therefore DISMISSED with leave to amend. Complaint could However, a court must grant a Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 not 27 28 3 be cured by amendment. The 1 A. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Is An Improper 2 Defendant 3 4 There is “no constitutional impediment to municipal liability” 5 under Section 1983. 6 York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.54, 691 (1978); see also Pembaur v. City 7 of 8 analysis 9 department, agency or unit of a local government is an improper Cincinnati, of Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of City of New 475 U.S. municipal 469, 483 liability (1986) to (extending counties). Monell’s However, a 10 defendant. See Hervey v. Estes, 65 F.3d 784, 701 (9th Cir. 1995) 11 (police narcotics task force not a “person” or entity subject to 12 suit under section 1983). 13 defendant in this action, and Plaintiff’s claims against LACSD must 14 be dismissed. If Plaintiff wishes to sue the County of Los Angeles, 15 he must meet the standard indicated below. Accordingly, the LACSD is not a proper 16 17 B. Plaintiff Fails To State A Claim Against The County 18 19 Plaintiff may have intended to sue Los Angeles County. 20 municipality 21 constitutional violations occurring as the result of an official 22 government policy or custom. 23 Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 121 (1992); Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. 24 a valid section 1983 claim against Los Angeles County, Plaintiff 25 must 26 departmental policy, custom or practice that was the “moving force” 27 behind the constitutional violation. 28 Festival Ass’n, 541 F.3d 950, 957 (9th Cir. 2008). show may both be a held liable under Section 1983 only A for Collins v. City of Harker Heights, deprivation of 4 constitutional To assert rights and a Villegas v. Gilroy Garlic There must be 1 a ‘direct causal link between a [County] policy or custom and the 2 alleged constitutional deprivation.’ 3 v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989)). 4 of unconstitutional activity, or even a series of ‘isolated and 5 sporadic incidents,’” will not impose liability under section 1983. 6 Gant v. Cnty. of Los Angeles, 772 F.3d 608, 618 (9th Cir. 2014) 7 (quoting Okla. City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 823-24 (1985)). 8 Rather, liability must be “founded upon practices of sufficient 9 duration, frequency and consistency that the conduct has become a Id. (quoting City of Canton Proof of a single incident 10 traditional method of carrying out policy.” 11 Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 1996). 12 13 Plaintiff does not identify a policy, custom or practice that 14 led to his alleged injuries. The single incident Plaintiff alleges 15 is not enough to establish the existence of such a policy. 16 result, Plaintiff fails to state a valid Monell claim against the 17 County, and the Complaint must be dismissed, with leave to amend. As a 18 19 20 C. The Complaint Fails To State A Claim Against The Doe Defendants 21 22 The Complaint also sues a Defendant whose name is unknown to 23 Plaintiff but is “documented by Inspector General Monitor Barbra 24 Phillips.” 25 against “unknown” defendants. 26 1160, 1163 (9th Cir. 1999). 27 defendants when the identity of the alleged defendants is not known 28 before filing the complaint. (Compl. at 3). Generally, courts do not favor actions Wakefield v. Thompson, 177 F.3d However, a plaintiff may sue unnamed Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 5 1 642 (9th Cir. 1980). 2 plaintiff “the opportunity through discovery to identify unknown 3 defendants, unless it is clear that discovery would not uncover 4 the identities.” 5 to learn the identity of unnamed defendants. Id. If that is the case, a court gives the A plaintiff must diligently pursue discovery 6 7 Here, however, 8 Defendants) 9 Defendant must but be seeks the claims against dismissed. relief the Plaintiff against the Doe sues Defendant (or only Doe “deputies one involved.” 10 (Compl. at 3, 6). To state a claim against more than one deputy, 11 Plaintiff must identify each Doe Defendant as “Doe No. 1, Doe No. 12 2,” etc., and show how each Defendant individually participated in 13 the alleged constitutional violations, whether or not Plaintiff 14 knows the Defendant’s name. 15 dismissed, with leave to amend. Accordingly, the Complaint must be 16 17 D. Plaintiff Fails To State A Cruel And Unusual Punishment Claim 18 19 Plaintiff broadly claims that he was subjected to “cruel and 20 unusual punishment.” (Compl. at 5). This punishment included 21 “forced labor,” “abuse of authority” and “safety violations.” 22 (Id.). 23 against the LACSD, one or more Doe Defendants, or both. It is unclear whether Plaintiff is raising this claim 24 25 Infliction of suffering on prisoners that is “totally without 26 penological justification” violates the Eighth Amendment. 27 v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981). 28 wanton infliction of pain . . . constitutes cruel and unusual 6 Rhodes Only “the unnecessary and 1 punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.” Whitley v. Albers, 2 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation 3 omitted). 4 barbarous treatment protected against by the [E]ighth [A]mendment.” 5 Grummett v. Rushen, 779 F.2d 491, 494 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985). 6 state an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must allege that prison 7 officials acted with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk 8 of serious harm. 9 Prison officials manifest deliberate indifference if they know of 10 and disregard an excessive risk to an inmate’s safety or health. 11 Id. at 837. The pain must amount to “the type of shocking and To Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994). 12 13 Here, Plaintiff alleges that Doe Defendants told him to clean 14 a room allegedly filled with noxious fumes. 15 Complaint 16 purposely ignored the risk of the fumes. 17 provide a detailed description of the “forced labor” to which he 18 was 19 regulations were allegedly violated. 20 violations of safety regulations are not themselves constitutional 21 violations. 22 barbarous” intentional conduct by any Defendant that would rise to 23 the level of a constitutional violation, the Complaint fails to 24 state a constitutional claim. See Oltarzewski v. Ruggiero, 830 25 F.2d 136, 139 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, the Complaint must be 26 dismissed, with leave to amend. 27 // 28 // fails allegedly to show subjected, Because whether nor Doe does Plaintiff does 7 (Compl. at 5). Defendants knew of The and Also, Plaintiff does not he specify which safety Plaintiff is advised that not allege “shocking and 1 E. 2 Plaintiff Fails To Allege A Deliberate Indifference Claim Against Any Defendant 3 4 It is also possible that Plaintiff may be attempting to state 5 an Eighth Amendment claim based on inadequate medical treatment. 6 To state a claim, a prisoner must demonstrate that the defendant 7 was “deliberately indifferent” to his “serious medical needs.” 8 Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). 9 a “serious medical need,” the prisoner must show that “failure to [the] prisoner’s condition could result To establish 10 treat in further 11 significant injury or the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of 12 pain.’” 13 v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006) (the existence 14 of a serious medical need is determined by an objective standard). Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096 (citation omitted); see also Morgan 15 16 To establish “deliberate indifference” to such a need, the 17 prisoner must demonstrate: “(a) a purposeful act or failure to 18 respond to a prisoner’s pain or possible medical need, and (b) harm 19 caused by the indifference.” 20 appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere 21 with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which 22 prison 23 omitted). 24 serious risk of harm and must have consciously disregarded that 25 risk. 26 the defendant’s “overall treatment” of the prisoner does not state 27 a deliberate indifference claim. physicians provide (Id.). medical Deliberate indifference “may care.” (Id.) (citations The defendant must have been subjectively aware of a See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 839. An “isolated exception” to Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096. 28 8 1 To the extent that Plaintiff is alleging that his loss of 2 consciousness was an objectively serious medical need, the 3 Complaint does not allege that Doe Defendants were subjectively 4 aware of, and deliberately chose to ignore, Plaintiff’s medical 5 needs. 6 attention after he fainted. 7 allege 8 intentionally interfered with his medical treatment. 9 to the extent that Plaintiff is attempting to assert a deliberate 10 indifference claim based on his medical care, the claim must be 11 dismissed, with leave to amend. In fact, Plaintiff received immediate, “emergency” medical facts showing (Compl. at 5). the Defendants Plaintiff does not denied, delayed or Accordingly, 12 13 F. Plaintiff Fails To State A State Law Negligence Claim 14 15 Plaintiff also may be attempting to assert a state law tort 16 claim for negligence. However, the Complaint does not satisfy the 17 jurisdictional requirements for alleging a state law tort claim, 18 such as negligence, in a civil action against government actors. 19 20 Under the California Government Claims Act (“CGCA”), a 21 plaintiff may not bring an action for damages against a public 22 employee or entity unless he first presents a written claim to the 23 local governmental entity within six months of the incident. 24 Mabe v. San Bernadino Cnt’y, Dept. of Public Social Services, 237 25 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Cal. Gov’t Code § 945.4 26 (“[N]o suit for money or damages may be brought against a public 27 entity . . . until a written claim therefor has been presented to 28 the public entity and has been acted upon by the board, or has been 9 See 1 deemed to have been rejected by the board . . .”). A plaintiff 2 must allege that the written claim was presented to the government 3 entity or explain why presentation should be excused, or the 4 complaint is subject to dismissal. 5 Comm’n, 67 F.3d 1470, 1477 (9th Cir. 1995). Mangold v. Cal. Pub. Utils. 6 7 Internal prison grievances are separate from and do not 8 satisfy the CGCA’s claim presentation requirement. See Hendon v. 9 Ramsey, 528 F. Supp. 2d 1058, 1069-70 (S.D. Cal. 2007) (“Although 10 Plaintiff has demonstrated successfully that he utilized the prison 11 grievance process to exhaust his federal [constitutional] claims 12 by filing an inmate appeal, and has attached documentation in the 13 form of his CDC 602 form and administrative responses, these 14 documents do not satisfy the CTCA [California Tort Claims Act] with 15 respect to his state law negligence claims.”). 16 failure to exhaust an administrative remedy is a jurisdictional, 17 not a procedural, defect.” 18 Cal. App. 3d 878, 890 (1985). Also, “[t]he Miller v. United Airlines, Inc., 174 19 20 To the extent that Plaintiff is attempting to assert a claim 21 for negligence, the claim fails because the Complaint does not 22 allege that Plaintiff presented his claim to the appropriate agency 23 before filing suit as required by the CGCA.2 24 Complaint 25 Plaintiff is cautioned that he should not assert such a claim 26 unless he can either show that he satisfied the CGCA presentation must be dismissed, with leave to Accordingly, the amend. However, 27 The Complaint reflects Plaintiff’s attempt to exhaust the internal prison grievance process only. (Compl. at 2). 2 28 10 1 requirement, or explain why exhaustion should be excused under the 2 particular circumstances of this case. 3 4 G. Plaintiff’s Request For Relief Is Defective 5 6 Plaintiff requests an “official review” of 7 “disciplinary action” against the deputies involved. 8 6). NCCF and (Compl. at Plaintiff has no constitutional right to this relief. 9 10 Requests for prospective relief are limited by 18 U.S.C. 11 § 3626(a)(1)(A) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which requires 12 that the relief requested “extend[] no further than necessary to 13 correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least 14 intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal 15 right.” 16 rights of persons not before the court.’” 17 Stockton, 390 F.3d 1105, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Zenith Radio 18 Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 112 (1969)). 19 Therefore, Plaintiff may not demand relief against the “facility” 20 (NCCF) or any official who is not party to this action because such 21 entities and persons are outside the Court’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Court “may not attempt to determine the Price v. City of 22 23 A court’s duty to protect inmates’ constitutional rights does 24 not confer the power to manage prisons, a task for which courts 25 are ill-equipped. 26 Cir. 1986), abrogated on other grounds by Sandin v. Conner, 515 27 U.S. 472 (1995). 28 an investigation. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1086 (9th Furthermore, there is no constitutional right to Cf. Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 11 1 (1973) 2 cognizable interest 3 another”). Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief in the form 4 of 5 because the Court does not have the ability to grant the requested 6 relief. 7 to amend. an (observing that investigation in or “a private the citizen prosecution disciplinary lacks or action a judicially nonprosecution cannot be of granted Accordingly, the Complaint must be dismissed, with leave 8 9 H. The Complaint Violates Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 8 10 11 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a 12 complaint contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim 13 showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘give 14 the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the 15 grounds upon which it rests.’” 16 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). 17 violated when a pleading “says too little” and “when a pleading 18 says too much.” 19 2013) (emphasis in original); see also Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. 20 Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th Cir. 2011) 21 (a complaint violates Rule 8 if a defendant would have difficulty 22 understanding and responding to the complaint). Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. Rule 8 may be Knapp v. Hogan, 738 F.3d 1106, 1108 (9th Cir. 23 24 Here, the Complaint violates Rule 8 because Plaintiff does 25 not clearly identify the nature of each of the legal claims he is 26 bringing, the specific facts giving rise to each claim, or the 27 specific 28 brought. Defendant or Defendants against whom each claim is Plaintiff also does not specify whether he is suing 12 1 Defendants in their individual or official capacities. Without 2 more to 3 Complaint. 4 Complaint is dismissed, with leave to amend. specific information, Defendants cannot See Cafasso, 637 F.3d at 1058. respond the Accordingly, the 5 6 IV. 7 CONCLUSION 8 9 For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is dismissed with 10 leave to amend. If Plaintiff still wishes to pursue this action, 11 he is granted thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum 12 and Order within which to file a First Amended Complaint. 13 amended complaint, Plaintiff shall cure the defects described 14 above. 15 allegations that are not reasonably related to the claims asserted 16 in prior complaints. 17 be complete in itself and shall bear both the designation “First 18 Amended Complaint” and the case number assigned to this action. 19 shall not refer in any manner to any prior complaint. 20 shall limit his action only to those Defendants who are properly 21 named 22 discussed above. Plaintiff in such a shall not include new defendants In any or new The First Amended Complaint, if any, shall complaint, consistent with the It Plaintiff authorities 23 24 In any amended complaint, Plaintiff should confine his 25 allegations to those operative facts supporting each of his claims. 26 Plaintiff 27 Procedure 8(a), all that is required is a “short and plain statement 28 of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” is advised that pursuant 13 to Federal Rule of Civil 1 Plaintiff is strongly encouraged to utilize the standard civil 2 rights complaint form when filing any amended complaint, a copy of 3 which is attached. 4 clear the nature and grounds for each claim and specifically 5 identify the Defendants he maintains are liable for that claim. 6 Plaintiff shall not assert any claims for which he cannot allege a 7 proper factual basis. In any amended complaint, Plaintiff should make 8 9 Plaintiff is explicitly cautioned that the failure to timely 10 file a First Amended Complaint, or failure to correct the 11 deficiencies described above, will result in a recommendation that 12 this entire action be dismissed with prejudice for failure to 13 prosecute and obey Court orders pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 14 Procedure 41(b). 15 wishes to pursue this action, he may voluntarily dismiss it by 16 filing a Notice of Dismissal in accordance with Federal Rule of 17 Civil Procedure 41(a)(1). 18 for Plaintiff’s convenience. Plaintiff is further advised that if he no longer A form Notice of Dismissal is attached 19 20 DATED: June 23, 2017 21 /S/___ _ ______ SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 22 23 24 25 THIS MEMORANDUM IS NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION, NOR IS IT INTENDED TO BE INCLUDED IN OR SUBMITTED TO ANY ONLINE SERVICE SUCH AS WESTLAW OR LEXIS. 26 27 28 14

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