Dangerfield v. Unknown

Filing 18

ORDER DISMISSING First Amended Complaint With Prejudice; ORDER DIRECTING Clerk's Office to Close Case, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 5/9/17. CASE CLOSED. (Marrujo, C)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 LONNIE DANGERFIELD, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No. 1:16-cv-00806-JLT (PC) ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE v. (Doc. 17) UNKNOWN, 15 Defendant. ORDER DIRECTING CLERK’S OFFICE TO CLOSE CASE 16 17 In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Bradshaw violated his right to be free from 18 cruel and unusual punishment by neglecting to secure his wheelchair in the transport van, which 19 allowed Plaintiff to be injured when his wheelchair came loose and he was thrown around the 20 back of the van. These allegations are not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as a violation of 21 Plaintiff’s federal rights which requires the action to be DISMISSED with prejudice. 22 A. 23 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a Screening Requirement 24 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The 25 Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally 26 frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary 27 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2); 28 U.S.C. 28 § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed 1 1 per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed 2 as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has 3 not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma 4 pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015). 5 B. 6 Plaintiff, a double amputee, alleges that, on September 16, 2015, Officer Bradshaw 7 neglected his duty to properly secure his wheelchair in the back of the transport van on his return 8 from Mercy Hospital. (Doc. 17, p. 4.) As a result, Plaintiff alleges that his wheelchair came 9 loose and he was thrown around the back of the van and received a head injury. (Id.) Summary of Allegations These allegations may state a claim for negligence under California law.1 However, 10 11 despite having been provided the legal standards for a claim under the Eighth Amendment in the 12 prior screening order, (see Doc. 16), Plaintiff’s allegations do not suffice to state a cognizable 13 claim for violation of Plaintiff’s civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and are DISMISSED with 14 prejudice. 15 C. Plaintiff’s Claim for Relief 1. 16 Eighth Amendment -- Safety Though Plaintiff did not identify which of his civil rights he felt were violated in this 17 18 incident, the Eighth Amendment appears most applicable. "The treatment a prisoner receives in 19 prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth 20 Amendment." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (citing Helling v. McKinney, 509 21 U.S. 25, 31 (1993)). Prison officials have a duty "to take reasonable measures to guarantee the 22 safety of inmates, which has been interpreted to include a duty to protect prisoners." Labatad v. 23 Corrections Corp. of America, 714 F.3d 1155, 1160 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832-33; Hearns 24 v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2005)). To establish a violation of this duty, the prisoner must "show that the officials acted with 25 26 27 28 1 The Court specifically declines to make a finding as to whether Plaintiff’s claims suffice under California law and nothing herein should be construed one way or the other on that issue. If he decides to file an action in California Superior Court, Plaintiff will be required to meet all of the requirements for any such action. 2 1 deliberate indifference to threat of serious harm or injury to an inmate." Labatad, at 1160 (citing 2 Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002). This involves both objective 3 and subjective components. 4 First, objectively, the alleged deprivation must be "sufficiently serious" and where a 5 failure to prevent harm is alleged, "the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions 6 posing a substantial risk of serious harm." Id. at 834, quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 7 349, 101 S.Ct. 2392 (1981). Not properly securing a wheelchair bound inmate’s wheelchair in a 8 van during transport suffices as a sufficiently serious situation which can pose a substantial risk of 9 serious harm. 10 However, Plaintiff’s allegations do not meet the second, subjective requirement of 11 showing that Officer Bradshaw knew “of and disregard an excessive risk” to Plaintiff’s safety. 12 Id. at 837; Anderson v. County of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1313 (9th Cir. 1995). A prison official 13 must "be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious 14 harm exists, and . . . must also draw the inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Liability may 15 follow only if a prison official "knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and 16 disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Id. at 847. 17 Plaintiff’s allegations do not show that Officer Bradshaw was deliberately indifferent to 18 the risk of harm to Plaintiff when he failed to properly secure Plaintiff’s wheelchair in the back of 19 the transport van. At most, Plaintiff’s allegations of Officer Bradshaw’s actions amount to 20 negligence. Indeed, Plaintiff admits that Officer Bradshaw “neglected” his duty to properly 21 secure his wheelchair. (Doc. 17, p. 4.) Mere negligence will not support a cause of action under 22 the Eighth Amendment. See Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir.1980) 23 (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06); Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir.2004). 24 Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint does not state a cognizable claim against Officer Bradshaw. 25 26 27 28 2. Claims Under California Law a. California Government Claims Act As indicated above, Plaintiff may be able to pursue a negligence claim under California law against Officer Bradshaw. However, under California’s Government Claims Act (“CGCA”), 3 1 set forth in California Government Code sections 810 et seq., a plaintiff may not bring a suit for 2 monetary damages against a public employee or entity unless the plaintiff first presented the 3 claim to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (“VCGCB” or 4 “Board”), and the Board acted on the claim, or the time for doing so expired. “The Tort Claims 5 Act requires that any civil complaint for money or damages first be presented to and rejected by 6 the pertinent public entity.” Munoz v. California, 33 Cal.App.4th 1767, 1776 (1995). The 7 purpose of this requirement is “to provide the public entity sufficient information to enable it to 8 adequately investigate claims and to settle them, if appropriate, without the expense of litigation,” 9 City of San Jose v. Superior Court, 12 Cal.3d 447, 455 (1974) (citations omitted), and “to confine 10 potential governmental liability to rigidly delineated circumstances: immunity is waived only if 11 the various requirements of the Act are satisfied,” Nuveen Mun. High Income Opportunity Fund 12 v. City of Alameda, Cal., 730 F.3d 1111, 1125 (9th Cir. 2013). Compliance with this “claim 13 presentation requirement” constitutes an element of a cause of action for damages against a public 14 entity or official. State v. Superior Court (Bodde), 32 Cal.4th 1234, 1244 (2004). Thus, in the 15 state courts, “failure to allege facts demonstrating or excusing compliance with the claim 16 presentation requirement subjects a claim against a public entity to a demurrer for failure to state 17 a cause of action.” Id. at 1239 (fn.omitted). 18 To be timely, a claim must be presented to the VCGCB “not later than six months after 19 the accrual of the cause of action.” Cal. Govt.Code § 911.2. Thereafter, Aany suit brought against 20 a public entity@ must be commenced no more than six months after the public entity rejects the 21 claim. Cal. Gov. Code, ' 945.6, subd. (a)(1). 22 Federal courts must require compliance with the CTCA for pendant state law claims that 23 seek damages against state employees or entities. Willis v. Reddin, 418 F.2d 702, 704 (9th 24 Cir.1969); Mangold v. California Public Utilities Commission, 67 F.3d 1470, 1477 (9th 25 Cir.1995). State tort claims included in a federal action, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, may 26 proceed only if the claims were first presented to the state in compliance with the applicable 27 requirements. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Department, 839 F.2d 621, 627 (9th 28 Cir.1988); Butler v. Los Angeles County, 617 F.Supp.2d 994, 1001 (C.D.Cal.2008). 4 1 Despite being previously informed of the above requirements, Plaintiff failed to state any 2 allegations to show his compliance with the CTCA. However, even if Plaintiff met this 3 requirement, for the reasons discussed in the next section, the Court would decline to exercise 4 supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims under California law. 5 b. Supplemental Jurisdiction Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1367(a), in any civil action in which the district court has original 6 7 jurisdiction, the district court Ashall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims in the 8 action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under 9 Article III,@ except as provided in subsections (b) and (c). A[O]nce judicial power exists under ' 10 1367(a), retention of supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims under 1367(c) is 11 discretionary.@ Acri v. Varian Assoc., Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1000 (9th Cir. 1997). AThe district 12 court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if . . . 13 the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.@ 28 U.S.C. ' 14 1367(c)(3). The Supreme Court has cautioned that Aif the federal claims are dismissed before 15 trial, . . . the state claims should be dismissed as well.@ United Mine Workers of America v. 16 Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966). As discussed above, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable federal 17 claim against Officer Bradshaw. Thus, this Court lacks discretion to retain supplemental 18 jurisdiction over his claims under state law. ORDER 19 The First Amended Complaint does not state a cognizable claim against Officer 20 21 Bradshaw. Given this persistent deficiency, despite having previously been provided the requisite 22 legal standards, it appears futile to allow further amendment. Plaintiff need not be granted leave 23 to amend as the defects in his pleading are not capable of being cured through amendment. 24 Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212-13 (9th Cir. 2012). 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 5 1 2 Accordingly, the Court ORDERS that the First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice and the Clerk of the Court is directed to close the action. 3 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 9, 2017 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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