Ford v. Lewis et al

Filing 50

ORDER overruling Objections to Report and Recommendation and Discovery Order, adopting 44 Report and Recommendation, and granting defendants' 27 Motion to Dismiss with prejudice. Signed by Judge Larry Alan Burns on 1/11/17. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(kas)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DARREN VINCENT FORD, 12 CASE NO. 16cv1126-LAB (BLM) Plaintiff, ORDER DENYING MOTION PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. P. 59; vs. 13 ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND TO DISCOVERY ORDER; AND 14 15 J. LEWIS, et al., Defendants. 16 ORDER OF DISMISSAL 17 18 Darren Vincent Ford, a prisoner in state custody, filed this action bringing claims 19 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Barbara Major for a 20 report and recommendation. 21 opposition. Ford also filed two discovery motions, the first of which Judge Major denied in 22 a separate motion. (Docket no. 37.) On December 5, 2016, Judge Major issued her report 23 and recommendation (the “R&R”), which recommended granting the motion to dismiss, and 24 which also denied his second discovery motion. (Docket no. 44.) Ford filed objections to 25 the R&R, and also a “Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment,” citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) 26 and referring apparently to the R&R. Judge Major denied as moot the motion to amend the 27 R&R, noting it was not a judgment. 28 /// Defendants then moved to dismiss, and Ford filed an -1- 16cv1126 1 Motion to Alter or Amend 2 It isn’t clear what Ford intended his rule 59 motion to apply to. All it does is plead for 3 relief in a very generalized way, and string-cite various authorities. Assuming he intended 4 it to apply to the R&R, Judge Major was correct: a report and recommendation is not a 5 judgment. 6 It is possible, however, that Ford intended to object to one or both of Judge Major’s 7 rulings on discovery motions. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). If that is the case, however, his 8 request is denied. First, his objections are untimely. See id. Second, his discovery motions 9 were correctly denied. To a great extent they are not even requests for discovery but 10 general arguments in favor of his case. To the extent they do request discovery, they lack 11 merit. Ford’s motion for discovery is a mere paragraph asking Judge Major to issue a 12 discovery order so that he “will become more educated for his case without any unwanted 13 surpri[s]es that Plaintiff is not prepared for.”) (Docket no. 36.) His motion for production of 14 documents goes to the other extreme, and is overly broad and burdensome; it asks 15 Defendants to identify and produce “all the material and information of their side of the 16 case”(Docket no. 43 at 1:20–23 (Motion for Production of Documents); see also 2:13–15 17 (requesting all documents and case law that Defendants believe justify their actions).) 18 Furthermore, until he pleads a claim, he is not entitled to impose burdensome discovery on 19 Defendants. See, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 686 (2009) (holding that where a 20 complaint failed to state a cognizable federal claim, the § 1983 plaintiff was “not entitled to 21 discovery, cabined or otherwise”); Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985) (“Unless the 22 plaintiff's allegations state a claim of violation of clearly established law, a defendant 23 pleading qualified immunity is entitled to dismissal before the commencement of discovery.”) 24 Even construing the Rule 59 motion as objections to the R&R does not help Ford, 25 because it is nothing more than a generalized argument that his claims have merit and he 26 wants and needs relief. For reasons discussed below, these general objections do not 27 require de novo review of the R&R. 28 Ford’s Rule 59(e) motion is therefore DENIED. -2- 16cv1126 1 Report and Recommendation: Legal Standards 2 A district court has jurisdiction to review a Magistrate Judge's report and 3 recommendation on dispositive matters. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). "The district judge must 4 determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly 5 objected to." Id. "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the 6 findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The 7 Court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which specific written objection is made. 8 United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc). "The statute 9 makes it clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and 10 recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise." Id. Only specific 11 objections invoke the Court’s review; vague, generalized, or highly conclusory objections are 12 insufficient. See, e.g., Rodriguez v. Hill, 2015 WL 366440 at *1 (S.D. Cal., Jan. 23, 2015) 13 (citing authority). Objections that would not alter the outcome are moot, and the can be 14 overruled on that basis alone. See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974)). 15 Discussion 16 Ford is serving two sentences of 25 years to life for two counts of annoying or 17 molesting a child in violation of California Penal Code § 647(c)(2). He claims Defendants 18 are violating his constitutional rights by denying him treatment as a sex offender or sexually 19 violent predator at a state mental hospital. He does not dispute that he is being provided with 20 mental health treatment while in prison, but argues that he is entitled to be released from 21 prison and sent to a state mental hospital instead, so that he can be given mental health 22 treatment he thinks is more appropriate. The complaint makes clear that the kind of 23 treatment he is seeking is unavailable at any California prison. It does not make clear what 24 relief he is seeking, but it appears he is asking the Court for injunctive relief on his own 25 behalf. He is also seeking relief on behalf of other prisoners throughout the state, and asks 26 for $300,000 in damages.1 (Compl. at 7.) 27 /// 28 1 In his Objections, Ford abandons his claim for money damages. (Objections at 16.) -3- 16cv1126 1 Defendants argued that Ford’s claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim 2 under either the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments, because the Court lacks jurisdiction to 3 grant the injunctive relief Ford asks for, because Defendants lack the authority to comply 4 with such an injunction, and because Defendants are entitled to both Eleventh Amendment 5 immunity and qualified immunity. The R&R correctly sets forth the standards for § 1983 6 claims and for motions to dismiss. 7 Ford made a wide range of objections in a rambling format. None were specific or 8 pointed out any material error in the R&R. In part he objects to the R&R’s wording. (See, 9 e.g., Objections (Docket no. 46) at 2:1–8.) He repeats his discovery requests which, as 10 discussed above, lack merit. He complains about the state court procedures that resulted 11 in his conviction and incarceration rather than civil commitment, and argues that the state 12 courts committed errors of state law. At length he repeats arguments raised in his complaint, 13 contending that his confinement in a state mental hospital is much more appropriate and 14 would comply with state law. He argues that his offenses were not particularly serious, 15 suggesting that he would be a good candidate for civil confinement. In essence, he argues 16 that the relief he seeks would be a good idea, and is appropriate under state law. 17 Ford also points out that in prison, child molesters are often subject to more 18 mistreatment than other prisoners. He complains about the justice system and prison in 19 general. But prison officials’ failure to protect him is not the basis for his claim: He does not 20 point out any specific dangers he is being exposed to, does not argue that prison officials 21 are indifferent to serious threats to his safety, and does not seek additional protection while 22 in prison. 23 Even assuming Ford had made specific objections, his claims would be denied. The 24 Defendants are all prison officials, and have no authority to commute his prison sentences 25 to a civil commitment. If there are any officials who have this authority, they are not parties 26 to this action.2 See Zepeda v. United States Immigration Service, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th 27 28 2 Officials with authority to commute a sentence or to order Ford civilly committed are almost certainly immune from suit, at least as to the claims he raises in this case. -4- 16cv1126 1 Cir.1985) (holding that a federal court “may not attempt to determine the rights of persons 2 not before the court”). The court does not have authority to order other state officials to 3 commute or otherwise modify Ford’s sentences or to have him civilly committed. Ford does 4 not dispute he is being offered psychological treatment and does not argue that any better 5 treatment is available to him in prison; instead, he argues that the available treatment is 6 insufficient, and that he is entitled under state law to be civilly committed so that he can have 7 sex offender treatment in a state mental hospital. This does not amount to either deliberate 8 indifference under the Eighth Amendment, or a due process violation under the Fourteenth 9 Amendment. Ford does not have a constitutional right, or any other federally-created right 10 to the treatment he is seeking. See Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr., 869 F.2d 461, 470 (9th 11 Cir. 1989) (holding that states are not required to provide special psychological treatment 12 programs for incarcerated sex offenders). Furthermore, his arguments that state officials 13 ignored or violated state law do not give rise to a federal claim cognizable under § 1983. 14 See, e.g., West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48–49 (1988) (holding that one element of a § 1983 15 claim is the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or federal law); Shanks v. Dressel, 16 540 F.3d 1082, 1088–89 (9th Cir. 2008) (explaining that ordinary violations of state law, 17 without more, do not give rise to a substantive due process claim). 18 Even assuming Ford had not abandoned his claim for monetary damages, 19 Defendants would be entitled to qualified immunity. See Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 526 (“Unless 20 the plaintiff’s allegations state a claim of violation of clearly established law, a defendant 21 pleading qualified immunity is entitled to dismissal . . . .”) To the extent relief is sought 22 against them in their official capacities, they would also be entitled to Eleventh Amendment 23 immunity. 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// -5- 16cv1126 1 Conclusion and Order 2 For the reasons set forth above, Ford’s objections to the R&R are OVERRULED. 3 Defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and the complaint is DISMISSED WITH 4 PREJUDICE. 5 6 7 IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: January 11, 2017 8 9 HONORABLE LARRY ALAN BURNS United States District Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -6- 16cv1126

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