(PC) Smith v. Akintola

Filing 24

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 09/08/21 RECOMMENDING that defendant's motion to dismiss 19 be granted in that plaintiff's claims for money damages against defendant in his official capacity be dismissed as barred by the 11th amendment. Motion 19 referred to Judge John A. Mendez. Objections due within 14 days.(Plummer, M)

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Case 2:21-cv-00420-JAM-EFB Document 24 Filed 09/08/21 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DONALD JOSHUA SMITH, 12 13 14 15 No. 2:21-cv-0420-JAM-EFB P Plaintiff, v. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OMONIYI AKINTOLA, Defendant. 16 17 Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this action brought under 42 18 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff’s amended complaint alleges that defendant, a physician’s assistant at 19 California Health Care Facility – Stockton, refused to treat plaintiff for chest pain and shortness 20 of breath in March 2019. ECF No. 7. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant knew of an outbreak of 21 Legionnaire’s disease at the prison but “did nothing” for plaintiff. Id. He sues defendant in both 22 his official and individual capacities for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, seeking 23 monetary damages and an injunction ordering “relief/transfer due to water contaminat[ion]” 24 causing Legionnaire’s disease. Id. at 5. 25 Defendant seeks dismissal of plaintiff’s claims against him in his official capacity as 26 barred by the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 11th Amendment bars § 1983 suits 27 against a State unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State 28 Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). A suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is 1 Case 2:21-cv-00420-JAM-EFB Document 24 Filed 09/08/21 Page 2 of 3 1 treated as a suit against the State and is barred by the 11th Amendment. Id. at 71. However, suits 2 against state officials in their official capacities seeking injunctive relief are not treated as against 3 the State and thus are not barred. Id. at 71 n.10. 4 On the other hand, "[c]learly, under § 1983, a plaintiff may sue a state officer in his 5 individual capacity for alleged wrongs committed by the officer in his official capacity." Price v. 6 Akaka, 928 F.2d 824, 828-29 (9th Cir. 1990) (emphasis added). Thus, to determine whether a 7 § 1983 suit for damages against a state official is barred by the 11th Amendment, a court must 8 determine whether the plaintiff has sued the official in his or her official or individual capacity. 9 In making that determination, the court looks to the basis of the claims asserted and the nature of 10 relief sought, and not just the label applied by plaintiff. Id.; see also Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. 11 Fish & Game Comm'n, 42 F.3d 1278, 1284 (9th Cir. 1994). A plaintiff’s claim for damages 12 against a defendant indicates that the defendant has been sued in his or her individual capacity. 13 Price, 928 F.2d at 828. 14 Here, plaintiff wrote in his complaint that he intended to sue defendant in both his 15 individual and official capacities. Because the state has not consented to the suit, plaintiff’s 16 claims against defendant in his official capacity seeking money damages are barred by the 11th 17 Amendment and must be dismissed. Plaintiff’s claims seeking money damages against defendant 18 in his individual capacity remain to be adjudicated, as does plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief 19 against defendant in his individual and official capacities. 20 For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby RECOMMENDED that defendant’s motion to 21 dismiss (ECF No. 19) be granted in that plaintiff’s claims for money damages against defendant 22 in his official capacity be dismissed as barred by the 11th Amendment. 23 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 24 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 25 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 26 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 27 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure to file objections 28 ///// 2 Case 2:21-cv-00420-JAM-EFB Document 24 Filed 09/08/21 Page 3 of 3 1 within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Turner v. 2 Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 3 DATED: September 8, 2021. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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