Mrozek v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation et al

Filing 12

ORDER on Defendants' 7 Motion to Dismiss, signed by District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on 3/8/17. (Gonzalez, R)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 CASE NO. 1:16-CV-01308 AWI SKO BRAD MROZEK, 8 ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS 9 Plaintiff (Doc. No. 7) 10 v. 11 12 CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION AND DOES 1-50, 13 14 Defendants 15 This case stems from an altercation between Plaintiff Brad Mrozek (“Mrozek”), a prisoner 16 17 at Corcoran State Prison, and three correctional officers, Officer Amaya (“Amaya”), Lieutenant 18 Espinosa (“Espinosa”), and Sergeant Castro (“Castro”). Mrozek alleges claims under § 1983 for 19 excessive force and failure to prevent excessive force. Defendants Amaya, Espinosa, and Castro 20 (“Defendants”) now move under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety against 21 them in their official capacities.1 Mrozek did not file an opposition to Defendants’ motion to 22 dismiss. For the reasons that follow, Defendants’ motion to dismiss will be granted. 23 24 LEGAL FRAMEWORK 25 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the 26 plaintiff’s “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A 27 1 28 Although the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) is also named as a defendant in this case, CDCR did not join in this motion. Defendants state that to their knowledge, CDCR has never been served. Mrozek has not filed a proof of service. 1 dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the 2 absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. See Mollett v. Netflix, Inc., 3 795 F.3d 1062, 1065 (9th Cir. 2015). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all well- 4 pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to 5 the non-moving party. Faulkner v. ADT Sec. Servs., 706 F.3d 1017, 1019 (9th Cir. 2013). To 6 avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as 7 true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 8 (2009); Mollett, 795 F.3d at 1065. 9 10 11 FACTUAL BACKGROUND According to the Complaint, Mrozek was incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison. On March 12 15, 2015, after Mrozek spoke with various unnamed officers regarding drug testing, Amaya 13 screamed at Mrozek and ordered Mrozek up against a wall in the prison yard. Without 14 provocation, Amaya slammed Mrozek’s head against the wall. Amaya subsequently 15 communicated obscenities towards Mrozek and held a chokehold on Mrozek while Mrozek was in 16 a holding cage. Both Espinosa and Castro witnessed Amaya choking Mrozek but failed to prevent 17 or stop Amaya. Mrozek states he has filed a 602 grievance against Defendants and claims to have 18 fully exhausted his administrative remedies. 19 On September 2, 2016, Mrozek filed his Complaint alleging that Defendants used 20 excessive force and/or failed to prevent or stop excessive force, in violation of the Eighth 21 Amendment. Mrozek is suing Defendants in both their official and individual capacities, and he 22 seeks only monetary relief. 23 24 25 DEFENDANTS’ MOTION Defendants seek dismissal from this case in their official capacities. Defendants argue that 26 Mrozek’s suit against Defendants in their official capacities is barred under the Eleventh 27 Amendment. Defendants also maintain that a state official sued in his official capacity is not a 28 2 1 “person” under the definition of § 1983.2 2 Defendants are correct that the Eleventh Amendment provides immunity to state officials 3 from official capacity suits. Krainski v. Nevada ex rel. Bd. of Regents of Nevada Sys. of Higher 4 Educ., 616 F.3d 963, 967 (9th Cir. 2010); Pittman v. Oregon, Employment Dep’t, 509 F.3d 1065, 5 1071-72 (9th Cir. 2007). Additionally, Defendants are not “persons” under § 1983. Pittman, 509 6 F.3d at 1072; Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 364 (9th Cir. 2004). Therefore, Mrozek’s claims 7 against Defendants in their official capacities will be dismissed without leave to amend.3 8 9 ORDER 10 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: Defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 11 7) is GRANTED and Mrozek’s claims against Defendants Amaya, Espinosa, and Castro in their 12 official capacities are DISMISSED without leave to amend. 13 14 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 8, 2017 SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 Defendants make arguments against injunctive relief under § 1983. However, Mrozek makes no request for injunctive relief in his Complaint. Because injunctive relief is not at issue, the Court need not address these arguments further. 3 This ruling has no bearing on Mrozek’s Complaint against Defendants in their individual capacities, which is not at issue here. 3

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