Matuguina v. City of Boise, et al.

Filing 9

INITIAL REVIEW ORDER - The Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has 28 days within which to file an amended complaint as described above. Because an amended complaint is required for Plaintiff to proceed, Pla intiffs request for appointment of counsel (contained in the Complaint) is DENIED without prejudice. ( Amended Complaint due by 6/6/2024.). Signed by Senior Judge B. Lynn Winmill. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (lm)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO BRIAN JOHN MATUGUINA, Case No. 1:24-cv-00080-BLW Plaintiff, INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE v. CITY OF BOISE; BOISE POLICE DEPARTMENT; KIP PAPORELLO; IAN SEAVEY; CAPTAIN TERRY PHILLIPS; OFFICER GREENE; DET. MICHELLE DEGRANGE; IDAHO STATE POLICE; and TROOPER WEINSTEIN, Defendants. The Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff Brian John Matuguina’s Complaint as a result of Plaintiff’s status as an inmate and in forma pauperis request. The Court now reviews the Complaint to determine whether it should be summarily dismissed in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order directing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if Plaintiff intends to proceed. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 1 1. Pleading Standards and Screening Requirement A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under modern pleading standards, Rule 8 requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The Iqbal/Twombly “facial plausibility” standard is met when a complaint contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[D]etailed factual allegations” are not required, but a plaintiff must offer “more than ... unadorned, the-defendantunlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s].” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant’s liability,” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted). Bare allegations that amount to a mere restatement of the elements of a cause of action, without adequate factual support, are not enough. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 2 The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”)1 requires that the Court review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints filed in forma pauperis, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss any claims that do not have adequate factual support or are frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A. The Court also must dismiss claims that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. These last two categories—together with claims that fall outside a federal court’s narrow grant of jurisdiction—encompass those claims that might, or might not, have factual support but nevertheless are barred by a wellestablished legal rule. The Court liberally construes the pleadings to determine whether a case should be dismissed for a failure to plead sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory or for the absence of a cognizable legal theory. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable factual and legal basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (discussing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)), superseded by statute on 1 Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, et seq. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 3 other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (stating that Rule 12(b)(6) authority to dismiss claims was expanded by the PLRA, giving courts power to dismiss deficient claims, sua sponte, before or after opportunity to amend). Moreover, even if a complaint meets the pleading requirements, dismissal under §§ 1915 and 1915A is still appropriate if an affirmative defense is an “obvious bar to securing relief on the face of the complaint.” Washington v. Los Angeles Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 833 F.3d 1048, 1056 (9th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). 2. Factual Allegations Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction, currently incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Plaintiff alleges that, on August 29, 2022, Boise Police Officer Kip Paporello violated Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights by “stalking him” in a Wal-Mart parking lot where Plaintiff was then arrested. Compl., Dkt. 3, at 2. Plaintiff states that Officers Weinstein, Green, and DeGrange have stalked him “all over Boise” in the past. Id. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Paporello “broke [his] hands.” Id. Plaintiff does not explain the circumstances surrounding his arrest or how his claims in this action relate to his current incarceration. Because the allegations in the Complaint are overly vague and generalized, Plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court will, INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 4 however, grant Plaintiff 28 days to amend the Complaint. Any amended complaint should take into consideration the following. 3. Standards of Law for § 1983 Claims Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To state a plausible civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). A state—or a state entity such as the Idaho State Police—is not considered a “person” subject to suit under § 1983 and is immune from suit in federal court pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 16–18 (1890); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Governmental officials generally are not liable for damages in their individual capacities under § 1983 unless they personally participated in the alleged constitutional violations. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677 (“[E]ach Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct.”). Section 1983 does not allow for recovery against an employer or principal simply because an employee or agent committed misconduct. Taylor, 880 F.2d at 1045. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 5 However, “[a] defendant may be held liable as a supervisor under § 1983 ‘if there exists ... a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation.’” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989)). A plaintiff can establish this causal connection by alleging that a defendant (1) set in motion a series of acts by others that violated the Constitution, or knowingly refused to terminate a series of such acts, which the supervisor “knew or reasonably should have known would cause others to inflict a constitutional injury”; (2) knowingly failed to act or acted improperly “in the training, supervision, or control of his subordinates”; (3) acquiesced in the constitutional deprivation; or (4) engaged in “conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others.” Id. at 1205–09 (internal quotation marks omitted). To bring a § 1983 claim against a local governmental entity such as the City of Boise, a plaintiff must allege that the execution of an official policy or unofficial custom inflicted the injury of which the plaintiff complains, as required by Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Under Monell, the requisite elements of a § 1983 claim against such an entity are the following: (1) the plaintiff was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) the entity had a policy or custom; (3) the policy or custom amounted to deliberate indifference to INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 6 plaintiff’s constitutional right; and (4) the policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Mabe v. San Bernardino Cnty., 237 F.3d 1101, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). An entity also “may be held liable under § 1983 when the individual who committed the constitutional tort was an official with final policymaking authority” or when “such an official ratified a subordinate’s unconstitutional decision or action and the basis for it.” Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1250 (9th Cir. 2010), overruled in part on other grounds by Castro v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1069 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc). An unwritten policy or custom must be so “persistent and widespread” that it constitutes a “permanent and well settled” practice. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 167–168 (1970)). “Liability for improper custom may not be predicated on isolated or sporadic incidents; it must be founded upon practices of sufficient duration, frequency and consistency that the conduct has become a traditional method of carrying out policy.” Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 1996). A plaintiff cannot simply restate these standards of law in a complaint. Instead, a plaintiff must provide specific facts supporting the elements of each claim and must allege facts showing a causal link between each defendant and INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 7 Plaintiff’s injury or damage. Alleging “the mere possibility of misconduct” is not enough. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although Plaintiff cites the First, Second, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments, see Compl. at 2, only the Fourth Amendment appears to be implicated by the allegations in the Complaint.2 The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally speaking, “every arrest, and every seizure having the essential attributes of a formal arrest, is unreasonable unless it is supported by probable cause.” Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 700 (1981). An arrest without probable cause gives rise to a false arrest claim. When a detention occurs as the result of a false arrest, a false imprisonment claim based on deprivation of liberty arises under the Due Process Clause. See Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 142 (1979). Under § 1983, a plaintiff must meet the elements of common law false imprisonment3 and establish that the imprisonment resulted in a violation of due process rights under the Fourteenth 2 Plaintiff does not allege that any of his First Amendment rights—whether the right to speak, to freely exercise religion, to peaceably assemble, or to petition the government for redress of grievances—was violated by any Defendant. The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, but Plaintiff does not include any arms-based allegations in the Complaint. Finally, the Eighth Amendment applies to convicted prisoners, and Plaintiff’s claims arose before and during his arrest, not after he was convicted. 3 The elements of common law false imprisonment in Idaho are (1) restraint of the physical liberty of another (2) without legal justification. Clark v. Alloway, 170 P.2d 425, 428 (Idaho 1946). INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 8 Amendment. Ortega v. Christian, 85 F.3d 1521, 1526 (11th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff also needs to show that the persons detaining him were involved in or aware of the wrongful nature of the arrest. Id. at 1526–27. The Fourth Amendment also protects against police officers using excessive force during the course of an arrest. Robins v. Harum, 773 F.2d 1004 (9th Cir. 1985). Arresting officers may use only an amount of force that is “objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted).4 “Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s chambers, violates the Fourth Amendment,” and whether an officer’s use of force was objectively reasonable is based on the totality of the circumstances. Id. at 396 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). This objective reasonableness standard requires that a Court “balanc[e] the nature and quality of the intrusion on a person’s liberty with the countervailing 4 Although the excessive force reasonableness standard is an objective test, it must not be confused with the standard for negligence claims under state law, as negligence is not actionable under § 1983. See Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S. Ct. 2466, 2472 (2015) (“[L]iability for negligently inflicted harm is categorically beneath the threshold of constitutional due process.”) (emphasis omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 332 (1986) (stating that a negligent act by a public official is not an abuse of governmental power remediable under § 1983, but merely a “failure to measure up to the conduct of a reasonable person”). INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 9 governmental interests at stake,” which involves several factors. Davis v. City of Las Vegas, 478 F.3d 1048, 1053-54 (9th Cir. 2007). First, the “quantum of force” must be assessed. Second, the governmental interests at stake must be analyzed in light of the following: (1) the severity of the crime for which the plaintiff was arrested; (2) whether the plaintiff posed a threat to the safety of the officers or others; (3) whether the plaintiff was actively resisting arrest or attempting to flee; and (4) the availability of alternative methods of subduing the plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff should keep these standards of law in mind if he files an amended complaint. 4. Claims Related to Plaintiff’s Criminal Charges or Conviction As stated above, the Complaint is too vague and generalized for Plaintiff to proceed at this time. However, even if the Complaint contained sufficient factual allegations, it appears that Plaintiff’s claims might still be barred pursuant to one of two legal doctrines. If the criminal charges arising from Plaintiff’s arrest are still pending, at least some of Plaintiff’s claims are likely subject to dismissal under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). A federal court can hear a civil rights claim related to a pending state criminal case only if “the threat to the plaintiff’s federally protected rights … cannot be eliminated by his defense against a single criminal prosecution.” Id. at 46. It is only in the most unusual of circumstances that a INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 10 federal court may interfere in an ongoing state criminal matter or in a threatened state court prosecution. Instead, a court generally must abstain from hearing the claim. For a federal court properly to abstain from hearing a case under the Younger doctrine, three factors must be present: (1) there must be an ongoing state judicial proceeding; (2) the proceeding must implicate an important state interest; and (3) there must be an adequate opportunity in the state proceeding to raise the constitutional challenge. Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). Where abstention is appropriate, a federal court may still entertain an action when “extraordinary circumstances” are present, including: (1) where irreparable injury is both “great and immediate,” Younger, 401 U.S. at 46; (2) where the state law is “flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional prohibitions,” id. at 53-54; or (3) where there is a showing of “bad faith, harassment, or any other unusual circumstances that would call for equitable relief,” id. at 54. If, on the other hand, Plaintiff was convicted of the criminal charges stemming from his arrest, then at least some of his claims may be barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that a civil rights claim “is not cognizable under § 1983” if the plaintiff’s success would “render a conviction or sentence invalid.” Id. at 486–87. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 11 That is, if a favorable verdict in a civil rights action “would necessarily imply the invalidity” of the plaintiff’s conviction, the plaintiff must first show that “the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 487. As the Supreme Court later clarified, “a state prisoner’s § 1983 action is barred (absent prior invalidation)—no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner’s suit (state conduct leading to conviction or internal prison proceedings)—if success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81–82 (2005). If Plaintiff files an amended complaint, he should set forth how the alleged constitutional violations relate to his current incarceration and if criminal charges stemming from the arrest remain pending in state court. 5. State Law Claims In addition to § 1983 claims, Plaintiff purports to assert state law claims, though Plaintiff does not identify any such claims. Compl. at 1. However, because the Complaint fails to state a federal claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court would decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claims in any event. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). If Plaintiff files an amended INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 12 complaint, and if the amended complaint identifies and states a plausible state law claim, the Court will reconsider the issue of supplemental jurisdiction. 6. Standards for Amended Complaint If Plaintiff chooses to amend the Complaint, Plaintiff must demonstrate how the actions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227, 229 (9th Cir. 1980), abrogated on other grounds by Kay v. Ehler, 499 U.S. 432 (1991). Plaintiff must also allege a sufficient causal connection between each defendant’s actions and the claimed deprivation. Taylor, 880 F.2d at 1045; Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). “Vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss” or to survive screening under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted)). Rather, for each cause of action against each defendant, Plaintiff must state the following: (1) the name of the person or entity that caused the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights; (2) facts showing the defendant is a state actor (such as state employment or a state contract) or a private entity performing a state function; (3) the dates on which the conduct of the defendant INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 13 allegedly took place; (4) the specific conduct or action Plaintiff alleges is unconstitutional; (5) the particular constitutional or statutory provision Plaintiff alleges has been violated; (6) facts alleging that the elements of the violation are met—for example, Plaintiff must allege facts satisfying the elements of a Fourth Amendment claim; (7) the injury or damages Plaintiff personally suffered; and (8) the particular type of relief Plaintiff is seeking from each defendant. In addition, Plaintiff must include facts showing that Plaintiff’s claims are not subject to dismissal under Younger v. Harris or Heck v. Humphrey, as explained above. Further, any amended complaint must contain all of Plaintiff’s allegations in a single pleading and cannot rely upon, attach, or incorporate by reference other pleadings or documents. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 15.1 (“Any amendment to a pleading, whether filed as a matter of course or upon a motion to amend, must reproduce the entire pleading as amended. The proposed amended pleading must be submitted at the time of filing a motion to amend.”); see also Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997) (“[An] amended complaint supersedes the original, the latter being treated thereafter as non-existent.”), overruled in part on other grounds by Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc); Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1990) (holding that the district court erred by INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 14 entering judgment against a party named in the initial complaint, but not in the amended complaint). Plaintiff must set forth each different factual allegation in a separate numbered paragraph. The amended complaint must be legibly written or typed in its entirety, and it should be clearly designated as an “Amended Complaint.” Plaintiff’s name and address should be clearly printed at the top left corner of the first page of each document filed with the Court. If Plaintiff files an amended complaint, Plaintiff must also file a “Motion to Review the Amended Complaint.” If Plaintiff does not amend within 28 days, or if the amendment does not comply with Rule 8, this case may be dismissed without further notice. See Knapp v. Hogan, 738 F.3d 1106, 1110 (9th Cir. 2013) (“When a litigant knowingly and repeatedly refuses to conform his pleadings to the requirements of the Federal Rules, it is reasonable to conclude that the litigant simply cannot state a claim.”). ORDER IT IS ORDERED: 1. The Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff has 28 days within which to file an amended complaint as described above. If Plaintiff does so, Plaintiff must file (along with the amended complaint) a Motion to Review the Amended Complaint. INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 15 Alternatively, Plaintiff may file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal if Plaintiff no longer intends to pursue this case.5 2. If Plaintiff does not file a timely amended complaint, this case may be dismissed with prejudice and without further notice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, failure to prosecute, or failure to comply with a Court order. 3. Because an amended complaint is required for Plaintiff to proceed, Plaintiff’s request for appointment of counsel (contained in the Complaint) is DENIED without prejudice. Plaintiff may renew the request for counsel in an amended complaint. DATED: May 10, 2024 _________________________ B. Lynn Winmill U.S. District Court Judge 5 A voluntary dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1) is not a dismissal for frivolity, for maliciousness, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and, therefore, does not count as a “strike” under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE - 16

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