Jack Robert Smith v. Kayla Fisher

Filing 6

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND by Magistrate Judge Kenly Kiya Kato, re Complaint (Prisoner Civil Rights) 1 . (Attachments: # 1 CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT FORM, # 2 NOTICE OF DISMISSAL) (dts)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 10 Plaintiff, 11 v. 12 13 Case No. CV 18-163-JFW (KK) JACK ROBERT SMITH, ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND KAYLA FISHER, Defendants. 14 15 16 17 I. 18 INTRODUCTION 19 Plaintiff Jack Robert Smith (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma 20 pauperis, has filed a civil rights complaint (“Complaint”) alleging defendant Dr. 21 Kayla Fisher (“Defendant”) violated his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 22 1983 (“Section 1983”) by refusing to release him from his civil commitment at 23 Patton State Hospital. For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the 24 Complaint with leave to amend. 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 1 II. 2 BACKGROUND On December 21, 2017, Plaintiff constructively filed1 a civil rights complaint 3 4 against Defendant alleging cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 5 Fourteenth Amendment. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. at 4. Plaintiff is hospitalized at Patton State Hospital and alleges Defendant “is 6 7 “keeping [him] hospitalized” although he “do[es] not meet the criteria.” Id. at 7. 8 Plaintiff claims there is “no legal basis” for his hospitalization and that Defendant 9 has a “‘legal duty’ to make sure patients who ‘meet the criteria’ are 10 ‘recommended’ out of the hospital.” Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary and punitive damages. Id. at 5. 11 12 III. 13 STANDARD OF REVIEW 14 As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the 15 Complaint and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action 16 is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or 17 seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 18 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 19 1998). 20 In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening 21 purposes, the Court applies the same pleading standard from Rule 8 of the Federal 22 Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”) as it would when evaluating a motion to 23 dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 24 25 26 27 28 Under the “mailbox rule,” when a pro se inmate gives prison authorities a pleading to mail to court, the court deems the pleading constructively “filed” on the date it is signed. Roberts v. Marshall, 627 F.3d 768, 770 n.1 (9th Cir. 2010); Douglas v. Noelle, 567 F.3d 1103, 1107 (9th Cir. 2009) (stating the “mailbox rule applies to § 1983 suits filed by pro se prisoners”); Williamson v. Flavan, No. CV 08-3635-R (JEM), 2009 WL 3066642, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2009) (applying “mailbox rule” to civilly committed individuals as well). 2 1 1 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a 2 “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to 3 relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). 4 A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim “where there is no 5 cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a 6 cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007). In 7 considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of 8 the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th 9 Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true “allegations that are merely 10 conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re 11 Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a complaint 12 need not include detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual 13 matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” 14 Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 15 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009)). A claim is facially 16 plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the 17 defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Cook, 637 F.3d at 1004. 18 “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, 19 however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal 20 pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889-90 (9th Cir. 21 2008). “[W]e have an obligation where the p[laintiff] is pro se, particularly in civil 22 rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the p[laintiff] the 23 benefit of any doubt.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (first 24 alteration in original). 25 If the court finds the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a 26 claim, the court has discretion to dismiss with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. 27 Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted 28 if it appears possible the defects in the complaint could be corrected, especially if 3 1 the plaintiff is pro se. Id. at 1130-31; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 2 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). However, if, after careful consideration, it is clear a complaint 3 cannot be cured by amendment, the court may dismiss without leave to amend. 4 Cato, 70 F.3d at 1107-11; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th 5 Cir. 2009). 6 IV. 7 DISCUSSION 8 A. PLAINTIFF’S SECTION 1983 CLAIM FOR DAMAGES IS HECKBARRED 9 10 (1) APPLICABLE LAW 11 In order to recover damages under Section 1983 for an allegedly 12 unconstitutional conviction or for other harm caused by actions the unlawfulness of 13 which would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a plaintiff must prove that the 14 conviction has been invalidated. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87, 114 S. 15 Ct. 2364, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1994). The Ninth Circuit has applied this principle 16 equally to Section 1983 actions that imply the invalidity of a plaintiff’s civil 17 commitment. Huftile v. Miccio–Fonseca, 410 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2005), cert. 18 denied, 547 U.S. 1166, 126 S. Ct. 2325, 164 L. Ed. 2d 844 (2006). The Ninth 19 Circuit reasoned that “Heck’s favorable termination rule was intended to prevent a 20 person in custody from using § 1983 to circumvent the more stringent 21 requirements for habeas corpus,” and thus applies not only to prisoners, but to 22 other persons who are “in custody” and thus have access to habeas relief. Id. at 23 1139. Hence, because civilly committed person have access to habeas relief, a 24 civilly committed person seeking to bring a Section 1983 claim for damages that 25 would imply the invalidity of his civil commitment must first invalidate his civil 26 commitment. Id. at 1140. 27 /// 28 /// 4 1 (2) ANALYSIS 2 Here, Plaintiff is confined at Patton State Hospital pursuant to a civil 3 commitment order.2 Plaintiff has now filed this Section 1983 action seeking 4 damages as a result of his continued confinement. However, Plaintiff does not 5 establish or allege his commitment has been invalidated. To the contrary, the crux 6 of his complaint appears to be that Defendant refuses to somehow invalidate his 7 commitment order. Hence, until Plaintiff successfully invalidates his commitment 8 order in state proceedings, or by a federal habeas petition,3 he may not pursue a 9 Section 1983 claim premised on its invalidity. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. 10 V. 11 LEAVE TO FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT 12 For the foregoing reasons, the Complaint is subject to dismissal. As the 13 Court is unable to determine whether amendment would be futile, leave to amend 14 is granted. See Lucas v. Dep’t of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per 15 curiam). Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT within twenty-one (21) days of the 16 17 service date of this Order, Plaintiff choose one of the following two options: 1. 18 Plaintiff may file a First Amended Complaint to attempt to cure the 19 deficiencies discussed above. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail Plaintiff a 20 blank Central District civil rights complaint form to use for filing the First 21 Amended Complaint, which the Court encourages Plaintiff to use. If Plaintiff chooses to file a First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff must clearly 22 23 designate on the face of the document that it is the “First Amended Complaint,” it 24 must bear the docket number assigned to this case, and it must be retyped or 25 26 27 28 See Smith v. Oreol, CV 17-5943-JFW (KK) (C.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2017), ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1 at 2. The Court takes judicial notice of Petitioner’s other proceedings in this Court. See In re Korean Air Lines Co., 642 F.3d 685, 689 n.1 (9th Cir. 2011). 3 The Court notes Plaintiff has a pending habeas petition in this Court. See Smith v. Oreol, CV 17-5943-JFW (KK) (C.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2017), Dkt. 1. 5 2 1 rewritten in its entirety, preferably on the court-approved form. Plaintiff shall not 2 include new defendants or new allegations that are not reasonably related to the 3 claims asserted in the Complaint. In addition, the First Amended Complaint must 4 be complete without reference to the Complaint or any other pleading, attachment, 5 or document. 6 An amended complaint supersedes the preceding complaint. Ferdik v. 7 Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). After amendment, the Court will 8 treat all preceding complaints as nonexistent. Id. Because the Court grants 9 Plaintiff leave to amend as to all his claims raised here, any claim raised in a 10 preceding complaint is waived if it is not raised again in the First Amended 11 Complaint. Lacey v. Maricopa Cty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012). 12 The Court advises Plaintiff that it generally will not be well-disposed toward 13 another dismissal with leave to amend if Plaintiff files a First Amended Complaint 14 that continues to include claims on which relief cannot be granted. “[A] district 15 court’s discretion over amendments is especially broad ‘where the court has 16 already given a plaintiff one or more opportunities to amend his complaint.’” 17 Ismail v. Cty. of Orange, 917 F. Supp. 2d 1060, 1066 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (quoting 18 DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 186 n.3 (9th Cir. 1987)); see also 19 Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261. Thus, if Plaintiff files a First Amended Complaint 20 with claims on which relief cannot be granted, the First Amended Complaint 21 will be dismissed without leave to amend and with prejudice. 22 Plaintiff is explicitly cautioned that failure to timely file a First 23 Amended Complaint will result in this action being dismissed with prejudice 24 for failure to state a claim, prosecute and/or obey Court orders pursuant to 25 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). 26 27 2. Alternatively, Plaintiffs may voluntarily dismiss the action without prejudice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a). The Clerk of Court 28 6 1 is directed to mail Plaintiffs a blank Notice of Dismissal Form, which the 2 Court encourages Plaintiffs to use. 3 4 5 6 7 Dated: January 11, 2018 HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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