Bradford v. Voong et al

Filing 17


Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 SYLVESTER BRADFORD, Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 MINH VOONG, et al., Defendants. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 17-cv-04964-HSG ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR REMAND; DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS, FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT, AND FOR CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE Re: Dkt. Nos. 6, 12 12 13 INTRODUCTION 14 Plaintiff, an inmate at Correctional Training Facility (“CTF”) in Soledad, California 15 initiated this action by filing a pro se complaint in Monterey County Superior Court on June 22, 16 2017, against CTF correctional officers J. Barba, M. Ramirez, DN McCall, and Arnold; CTF 17 Warden Spearman; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Director 18 Jeffrey Beard; and CDCR Office of Appeals Chief M. Voong. Dkt. No. 1 at 1. On July 27, 2017, 19 Plaintiff effectuated service on Defendants Beard and Voong in accordance with California law. 20 Id. On August 25, 2017, Defendants Beard and Voong removed this action to federal court. Dkt 21 No. 1.1 Pending before the Court are Plaintiff’s motion to remand the action (Dkt. No. 6) and 22 Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the complaint, for leave to file an amended complaint, and for a case 23 management conference (Dkt. No. 12). For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES 24 Plaintiff’s motion to remand and DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss, for leave to file an 25 amended complaint, and for a case management conference. 26 27 28 1 After Plaintiff’s motion for remand was filed, Defendants Arnold, Barba, Ramirez and Spearman joined in the notice of removal filed by Defendants Beard and Voong. Dkt. No. 14. Defendant McCall has not yet appeared in this action. DISCUSSION 1 2 I. MOTION FOR REMAND 3 a. 4 Section 1441(a) of Title 28 provides that a defendant may remove from state court any 5 action “of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. 6 § 1441(a). The vast majority of lawsuits “arise under the law that creates the cause of action.” 7 American Well Works Co. v. Layne & Bowler Co., 241 U.S. 257, 260 (1916); see also Merrell 8 Dow Pharm., Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986). Federal district courts “shall have 9 original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Legal Standard Governing Removal United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For removal to be proper, the federal question must be clearly presented on the face of the 12 plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint. Oklahoma Tax Comm’n v. Graham, 489 U.S. 838, 840–41 13 (1989); see also Caterpillar, Inc., v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987); Hunter v. Phillip Morris 14 USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009). This rule makes the plaintiff the master of his claim in 15 that the plaintiff may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state law. Caterpillar, 16 Inc., 482 U.S. at 392. The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus 17 v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Sygenta Crop Prot. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 18 28, 32 (2002). “The strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant 19 always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566; see also 20 Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990). Courts must 21 reject federal jurisdiction if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance. 22 Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996). 23 b. Analysis 24 Plaintiff argues that this Court does not have jurisdiction over this action because he has 25 filed an amended complaint in state court wherein he removes all federal claims. Dkt. No. 6 at 1 26 and 3. In his motion for remand, Plaintiff also expressly disavows all federal claims. Id. Plaintiff 27 further alleges that the California Attorney General has a pattern of removing cases from state 28 court in order to delay the resolution of cases. Id. at 2. 2 1 Defendants argue that removal was proper because Plaintiff’s claims of retaliation, cruel 2 and unusual punishment, and due-process violations allege substantial questions of federal law. 3 Defendants further note that Plaintiff cites to federal authority throughout the complaint to support 4 his claims, and that Plaintiff explicitly asserts that his federal constitutional rights were violated. 5 Dkt. No. 13 at 2. 6 The only complaint in the record is the complaint initiating this action in state court, filed 7 on June 22, 2017. Dkt. No. 1-1. Although Plaintiff claims that he filed an amended complaint, 8 there is no amended complaint in the record before the Court. 9 After reviewing the complaint, the Court concurs with Defendants that the complaint clearly presents federal claims. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges sixteen causes of actions. In his 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 fourth and seventh causes of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Barba and Defendant Arnold, 12 respectively, violated his “state and federal rights to due process” of law. Dkt. No. 1-1 at 46 and 13 50 (emphasis added). In his fourteenth cause of action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Beard 14 violated his due process rights and cites to two federal cases in support of this allegation. Id. at 66 15 (citing to Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472 (1995) and Morrissey v. Brewer, 404 U.S. 471 (1972)). 16 In his list of supporting legal authorities, Plaintiff primarily cites to federal case law. Dkt. No. 1-1 17 at 72–75. Although the remaining claims appear to be state law claims, the complaint clearly 18 contains at least three claims that arise out of the laws of the United States. 19 A civil action brought in a state court which contains both federal and state law claims may 20 be removed to federal court because the federal court’s jurisdiction derives from the federal 21 claims. Chicago v. Int’l College of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 166 (1997). Once the case is 22 removed, the district court has original jurisdiction over the claims arising under federal law, and 23 may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the accompanying state law claims so long as those 24 state law claims constitute “other claims that . . . form part of the same case or controversy.” Id. at 25 165 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)). 26 Here, Plaintiff’s causes of action, both state and federal, derive from a common nucleus of 27 operative facts — an August 2015 cell search resulting in a RVR that accused Plaintiff of 28 possessing contraband, and the grievances filed regarding both the cell search and the RVR. This 3 1 Court has original jurisdiction over the federal claims set forth in the complaint, and may exercise 2 supplemental jurisdiction over the accompanying state law claims. Defendants properly removed 3 this case to federal court. Plaintiff has stated that he wishes to disavow all federal claims and has requested leave to 4 5 file an amended complaint omitting all federal claims. Plaintiff’s motion to remand this case is 6 therefore DENIED without prejudice to re-filing if he files an amended complaint that alleges only 7 state law claims. 8 II. 9 Plaintiff has filed a motion titled “Motion to Dismiss and Request for Amend (sic) 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Complaint, and Case Management Conference.” Dkt. No. 12. Plaintiff requests that the Court dismiss the complaint and allow him to file an amended 12 13 MOTION TO DISMISS AND REQUEST FOR AMENDED COMPLAINT AND CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE complaint. Plaintiff states he intends to withdraw all federal claims. Plaintiff also requests that the Court schedule a case management conference. 14 15 16 17 Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss his complaint is DENIED. Dismissal of the complaint, where there is no other pending complaint, is the equivalent of dismissing this action, which is not Plaintiff’s intention. Plaintiff has stated that he intends to prosecute this action, but seeks to litigate in state court and not federal court.2 18 Plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint is DENIED without prejudice to re-filing a 19 motion for leave to file an amended complaint that complies with the Court’s local rules and 20 includes a copy of the proposed amended complaint. Pursuant to Local Rule 10-1, Plaintiff must 21 attach a copy of the proposed amended complaint to his motion for leave to amend. N.D. Cal. L. 22 R. 10-1. Plaintiff has not satisfied this requirement. Plaintiff’s motion for a case management conference is DENIED. A case management 23 24 2 25 26 27 28 If Plaintiff seeks to voluntarily dismiss this action without a court order, he may do so pursuant to Rule 41(a) (1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 41 requires Plaintiff to file a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment; otherwise, a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared is required. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A). Although a Rule 41 dismissal is without prejudice unless the notice or stipulation states otherwise, if the plaintiff previously dismissed any federal or state court action based on or including the same claim, a Rule 41 notice of dismissal will operate as an adjudication on the merits. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(B). 4 1 conference is not necessary at this time. CONCLUSION 2 3 For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to remand (Dkt. No. 6) 4 without prejudice to re-filing if he is permitted to file an amended complaint that alleges only state 5 law claims. The Court also DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss, for leave to file an amended 6 complaint, and for a case management conference (Dkt. No. 12) without prejudice to re-filing a 7 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 motion for leave to file an amended complaint that includes a copy of the proposed amended complaint. The Court is required to conduct a preliminary screening of the complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (requiring federal court to conduct preliminary screening in any case in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity). However, Plaintiff has indicated that he wishes to file an amended complaint that omits all federal claims. If Plaintiff seeks leave to file an amended complaint that solely alleges state law claims, it is within the Court’s discretion allow filing of such an amended complaint and to then remand this action back to state court. See Swett v. Schenk, 792 F.2d 1447, 1450 (9th Cir. 1986) (“it is within the district court’s discretion, once the basis for removal jurisdiction is dropped, whether to hear the rest of the action or remand it to the state court from which it was removed”); Plute v. Roadway Package System, Inc., 141 F. Supp. 2d 1005, 1007 (N.D. Cal. 2001) (court may remand sua sponte or on motion of a party). To preserve Court resources, the Court will delay screening of the complaint for twenty-eight days. If Plaintiff does not file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint within twenty-eight (28) days of the date of this order, the Court will screen the complaint that initiated this action (Dkt. No. 1-1). This order terminates Dkt. Nos. 6 and 12. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 12/4/2017 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 28 5

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?