Jack Robert Smith v. Patton State Hospital

Filing 11

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND by Magistrate Judge Kenly Kiya Kato, re Amended Complaint 9 , Supplement 10 . (SEE ORDER FOR DETAILS) (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. EDCV 17-1594-JFW (KK) JACK ROBERT SMITH, ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND HARRY OREOL, 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 First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against Defendant Harry 21 Oreol (“Defendant”) in his individual capacity for violations of Plaintiff’s 22 Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”). For the 23 reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the FAC with leave to amend. 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 1 II. 2 BACKGROUND 3 On July 27, 2017, Plaintiff constructively filed1 a civil rights complaint 4 alleging defendant Patton State Hospital violated his Fourteenth Amendment 5 rights to substantive due process and to be free from “cruel and unusual 6 punishment [and] torture.” ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1 at 4. Plaintiff alleged he 7 was being hospitalized at Patton State Hospital “for no reason,” that he was “not 8 in need of treatment,” did “not take medication,” and is “not mentally ill & not 9 dangerous.” Id. at 6. He further claimed his confinement was “unnecessary, 10 unjustifiable, oppressive, dangerous & cruel.” Id. On August 11, 2017, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint with leave to 11 12 amend for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 6. On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff constructively filed the instant FAC against 13 14 defendant Harry Oreol, the Executive Director of Patton State Hospital, claiming 15 that “[a]s a result of Harry Oreols’ negligence, [Plaintiff] is being ‘robbed of [his] 16 Constitutional rights.’” Dkt. 9. In the FAC, Plaintiff alleges the “conditions of 17 [his] confinement are ‘unjustifiable, oppressive, dangerous & cruel.’” Id. at 7. 18 Plaintiff further claims he is “hospitalized although [he] [is] ‘not mentally ill, not 19 dangerous & receiving no treatment.’” Id. Plaintiff alleges his “‘health & safety is 20 in danger’ because [he] [is] ‘forced to live with abusive staff & dangerous severely 21 mentally ill patients, that are heavily medicated, unsanitary, mean, disrespectful, 22 aggravating & have committed murders & other horrendous violent crimes.’” Id. 23 Specifically, Plaintiff claims that on September 10, 2014, he was “viciously 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) (citation omitted); 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). 1 2 1 attacked by a patient for no reason.” Id. Plaintiff states he is “‘living in fear, 2 deprived of [his] life & liberty, suffering endless amounts of frustration, stress & 3 uncertainty.’” Id. 4 5 Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks “$250,000,000 in monetary and punitive damages.” Id. at 5. 6 III. 7 STANDARD OF REVIEW 8 As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the FAC 9 and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous 10 or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks 11 monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 12 1915(e)(2)(B); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). 13 In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening 14 purposes, the Court applies the same pleading standard from Rule 8 of the Federal 15 Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”) as it would when evaluating a motion to 16 dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 17 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a 18 “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to 19 relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). 20 A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim “where there is no 21 cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a 22 cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007) 23 (citation omitted). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must 24 accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 25 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true 26 “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or 27 unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th 28 Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Although a complaint need not include detailed 3 1 factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 2 ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 3 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 4 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the 5 court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the 6 misconduct alleged.” Cook, 637 F.3d at 1004 (citation omitted). “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, 7 8 however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal 9 pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889-90 (9th Cir. 10 2008) (citation omitted). “[W]e have an obligation where the p[laintiff] is pro se, 11 particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the 12 p[laintiff] the benefit of any doubt.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 13 2012) (citation omitted). If the court finds the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a 14 15 claim, the court has discretion to dismiss with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. 16 Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted 17 if it appears possible the defects in the complaint could be corrected, especially if 18 the plaintiff is pro se. Id. at 1130-31; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 19 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). However, if, after careful consideration, it is clear a complaint 20 cannot be cured by amendment, the court may dismiss without leave to amend. 21 Cato, 70 F.3d at 1107-11; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th 22 Cir. 2009). 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 4 1 IV. 2 DISCUSSION 3 A. PLAINTIFF FAILS TO STATE A FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT 4 CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT CLAIM AGAINST 5 DEFENDANT 6 (1) 7 Under the Fourteenth Amendment, a civilly-committed person may be APPLICABLE LAW 8 subjected “to the restrictions and conditions of the detention facility so long as 9 those conditions and restrictions do not amount to punishment or otherwise violate 10 the Constitution.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 536-37, 99 S. Ct. 1861, 60 L. Ed. 11 2d 447 (1979). A government action constitutes punishment if “(1) the action 12 causes the detainee to suffer some harm or ‘disability,’ and (2) the purpose of the 13 governmental action is to punish the detainee.” Demery v. Arpaio, 378 F.3d 1020, 14 1030 (2004); Endsley v. Luna, 750 F. Supp. 2d 1074, 1100 (C.D. Cal. 2010), aff’d, 15 473 F. App’x 745 (9th Cir. 2012). The harm or disability “must either significantly 16 exceed, or be independent of, the inherent discomforts of confinement.” Demery, 17 378 F.3d at 1030. Additionally, an improper purpose can be established by showing 18 the conditions are “expressly intended to punish” or that the conditions serve a 19 non-punitive purpose but are excessive in relation to that purpose. Townsend v. 20 King, No. 1:13-CV-01742-GSA-PC, 2014 WL 1024009, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 21 2014) (“Treatment is presumptively punitive when a civil detainee is confined in 22 conditions identical to, similar to, or more restrictive than his criminal 23 counterparts, and when a pre-adjudication civil detainee is detained under 24 conditions more restrictive than a post-adjudication civil detainee would face.”). 25 (2) ANALYSIS 26 Here, Plaintiff appears to allege a Fourteenth Amendment conditions of 27 confinement claim against Defendant. However, Plaintiff fails to identify any 28 specific action that Defendant took that “amount[ed] to punishment or otherwise 5 1 violate[d] the Constitution.” Bell, 441 U.S. at 536-37. Additionally, while Plaintiff 2 conclusorily claims he is suffering because his health and safety are in danger, he 3 fails to identify a specific harm caused by actions taken by Defendant. Absent any 4 allegations that Defendant acted or failed to act (1) for the purpose of punishing 5 Plaintiff, and (2) thereby causing Plaintiff harm, Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment 6 conditions of confinement claim must be dismissed. Endsley, 750 F. Supp. 2d at 7 1100. 8 B. PLAINTIFF FAILS TO STATE A FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT FAILURE TO PROTECT CLAIM AGAINST DEFENDANT 9 10 (1) APPLICABLE LAW 11 “Involuntarily committed patients in state mental health hospitals have a 12 Fourteenth Amendment due process right to be provided safe conditions by the 13 hospital administrators.” Ammons v. Washington Dep’t of Soc. & Health Servs., 14 648 F.3d 1020, 1027 (9th Cir. 2011). “[L]iability may be imposed for failure to 15 provide safe conditions ‘when the decision made by the professional is such a 16 substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards 17 as to demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base the decision on 18 such a judgment.’” Id. (citing Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 314, 102 S. Ct. 19 2452, 73 L. Ed. 2d 28 (1982)). To sufficiently state a failure to protect claim, a 20 plaintiff must allege facts “to show that defendants knew of any threats to his 21 safety or deviated from professional standards by disregarding known unsafe 22 conditions.” Cranford v. Ahlin, 610 F. App’x 714 (9th Cir. 2015)2. 23 (2) 24 Here, to the extent Plaintiff is attempting to raise a Fourteenth Amendment 25 ANALYSIS violation for failure to protect, he fails to allege sufficient facts to state a claim. 26 27 28 The Court may cite to unpublished Ninth Circuit opinions issued on or after January 1, 2007. U.S. Ct. App. 9th Cir. R. 36-3(b); Fed. R. App. P. 32.1(a). 2 6 1 Plaintiff has not provided any facts to show that Defendant “knew of any threat” to 2 Plaintiff’s safety, or “deviated from professional standards by disregarding known 3 unsafe conditions.” Id. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to state a Fourteenth 4 Amendment failure to protect claim. 5 C. PLAINTIFF FAILS TO STATE A FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT 6 EXCESSIVE FORCE CLAIM AGAINST DEFENDANT 7 (1) 8 The “settled rule [is] that the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain . . . 9 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.” APPLICABLE LAW 10 Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5, 112 S. Ct. 995, 117 L. Ed. 2d 156 (1992) 11 (internal quotation marks omitted). “When prison officials use excessive force 12 against prisoners, they violate the inmates’ Eighth Amendment right to be free 13 from cruel and unusual punishment.” Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 903 (9th 14 Cir. 2002) (footnote omitted). However, “the rights of civilly committed persons 15 are protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and not 16 the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment.” Irvin v. 17 Baca, No. CV 03-2565-AHS (CW), 2011 WL 838915, at *8 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 18, 18 2011), report and recommendation adopted, 2011 WL 835834 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 28, 19 2011). 20 The standard applicable to Fourteenth Amendment excessive force cases is 21 the same as the Fourth Amendment “objective” test, rather than the often harder- 22 to-prove Eighth Amendment “subjective” standard. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, __ 23 U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 2466, 2470, 192 L. Ed. 2d 416 (2015). Thus, the inquiry here is 24 whether the defendants’ “actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the facts 25 and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or 26 motivation.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397, 109 S. Ct. 1865, 104 L. Ed. 2d 27 443 (1989). The gravity of a particular intrusion on an individual’s Fourth 28 Amendment interests depends on “the type and amount of force inflicted.” Chew 7 1 v. Gates, 27 F.3d 1432, 1440 (9th Cir. 1994). “[E]ven when some force is justified 2 the amount actually used may be excessive.” Blankenhorn v. City of Orange, 485 3 F.3d 463, 477 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see 4 also Santos v. Gates, 287 F.3d 846, 854 (9th Cir. 2002). 5 (2) ANALYSIS 6 Here, to the extent Plaintiff is attempting to raise an excessive force claim 7 based on an incident that occurred on September 10, 2014, he fails to state a claim. 8 Plaintiff does not provide any facts alleging Defendant was involved in any way in 9 the attack. In fact, Plaintiff specifically states that it was a patient who attacked 10 him. Thus, Plaintiff fails to state an excessive force claim against Defendant. 11 V. 12 LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT 13 For the foregoing reasons, the FAC is subject to dismissal. As the Court is 14 unable to determine whether amendment would be futile, leave to amend is 15 granted. See Lucas v. Dep’t of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per 16 curiam). 17 18 19 Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT within twenty-one (21) days of the service date of this Order, Plaintiff choose one of the following two options: 1. Plaintiff may file a Second Amended Complaint to attempt to cure the 20 deficiencies discussed above. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail Plaintiff a 21 blank Central District civil rights complaint form to use for filing the Second 22 Amended Complaint, which the Court encourages Plaintiff to use. 23 If Plaintiff chooses to file a Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff must 24 clearly designate on the face of the document that it is the “Second Amended 25 Complaint,” it must bear the docket number assigned to this case, and it must be 26 retyped or rewritten in its entirety, preferably on the court-approved form. Plaintiff 27 shall not include new defendants or new allegations that are not reasonably related 28 to the claims asserted in the Complaint. In addition, the Second Amended 8 1 Complaint must be complete without reference to the FAC, Complaint, or any 2 other pleading, attachment, or document. An amended complaint supersedes the preceding complaint. Ferdik v. 3 4 Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). After amendment, the Court will 5 treat all preceding complaints as nonexistent. Id. Because the Court grants 6 Plaintiff leave to amend as to all his claims raised here, any claim raised in a 7 preceding complaint is waived if it is not raised again in the Second Amended 8 Complaint. Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012). The Court advises Plaintiff that it generally will not be well-disposed toward 9 10 another dismissal with leave to amend if Plaintiff files a Second Amended 11 Complaint that continues to include claims on which relief cannot be granted. “[A] 12 district court’s discretion over amendments is especially broad ‘where the court 13 has already given a plaintiff one or more opportunities to amend his complaint.’” 14 Ismail v. County of Orange, 917 F. Supp.2d 1060, 1066 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (citations 15 omitted); see also Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261. Thus, if Plaintiff files a Second 16 Amended Complaint with claims on which relief cannot be granted, the 17 Second Amended Complaint will be dismissed without leave to amend and 18 with prejudice. 19 Plaintiff is explicitly cautioned that failure to timely file a Second 20 Amended Complaint will result in this action being dismissed with prejudice 21 for failure to state a claim, prosecute and/or obey Court orders pursuant to 22 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 9 1 2. Alternatively, Plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss the action without 2 prejudice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a). The Clerk of Court 3 is directed to mail Plaintiff a blank Notice of Dismissal Form, which the Court 4 encourages Plaintiff to use. 5 6 7 8 9 Dated: August 30, 2017 HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 10

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