(PC) Britton v. Compas, No. 1:2017cv01093 - Document 16 (E.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS to dismiss action, with prejudice for failure to state a claim, failure to obey a court order and failure to prosecute 15 signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 6/15/2018. Referred to Judge Dale A. Drozd; Objections to F&R due within 14-Days. (Lundstrom, T)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DONALD TREMAYNE BRITTON, 12 Plaintiff, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS ACTION, WITH PREJUDICE, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, FAILURE TO OBEY A COURT ORDER, AND FAILURE TO PROSECUTE Defendant. 13 14 Case No. 1:17-cv-01093-DAD-BAM (PC) (ECF No. 15) v. COMPAS, 15 16 FOURTEEN (14) DAY DEADLINE 17 18 19 I. Background Plaintiff Donald Tremayne Britton (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in 20 forma pauperis in this civil rights action. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate 21 Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. 22 On February 15, 2018, the Court issued a screening order finding that Plaintiff had stated 23 a cognizable claim against Defendant Compras for failure to protect him from an assault by 24 Inmate Hampton on November 12, 2016, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, but failed to 25 state any other claims. (ECF No. 11.) The Court ordered Plaintiff to file, within thirty days, a 26 first amended complaint or to notify the Court of his willingness to proceed only on the 27 cognizable claim against Defendant Compras. (Id. at 6.) After more than thirty days had passed 28 and Plaintiff failed to file a first amended complaint or otherwise communicate with the Court 1 1 regarding this action, the undersigned issued findings and recommendations regarding dismissal 2 of this action for failure to obey a court order and failure to prosecute. (ECF No. 12.) 3 On April 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed objections to the findings and recommendations, 4 together with a first amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 13, 14.) As it appeared Plaintiff attempted 5 to timely file his first amended complaint in compliance with the Court’s February 15, 2018 6 order, the Court vacated the findings and recommendations and screened Plaintiff’s first amended 7 complaint. (ECF No. 15.) The Court found that Plaintiff’s first amended complaint failed to state 8 a cognizable claim, and Plaintiff was granted leave to file a second amended complaint within 9 thirty (30) days. (Id.) Plaintiff’s second amended complaint was due on or before June 4, 2018. Plaintiff has 10 11 failed to file an amended complaint or otherwise communicate with the Court. 12 II. Failure to State a Claim 13 A. Screening Requirement 14 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 15 governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 16 § 1915A(a). Plaintiff’s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous 17 or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary 18 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. 19 § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 20 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 21 pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 22 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 23 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell 24 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as 25 true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 26 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 27 To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially plausible, which requires 28 sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable 2 1 for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. 2 Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted 3 unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the 4 plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. Plaintiff’s Allegations 5 B. 6 Plaintiff is currently housed at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California, where the 7 events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred. In the original complaint, Plaintiff 8 contended that Correctional Officer Compas, the sole defendant in this action, failed to protect 9 Plaintiff from assault at the hands of Inmate Hampton in violation of Plaintiff’s Eighth 10 Amendment rights. 11 Plaintiff’s first amended complaint alleges the following: 12 15 Furthermore as I stated in my original complaint, Inmate Hampton told C/O Compas that he and I did not get along and he (Inmate Hampton) also made the threat that somebodys [sic] gonna be hurt or killed. Inmate Hampton was speaking to C/O Compas. Hampton has a history of fighting his cell mates C/O Compas is aware of this fact. Hampton was forced upon me after fighting his cell-mate in Bldg. 3 “facility A” C/O Compas Bldg. and C/O Compas was aware. 16 Plaintiff further references pages 4 and 6 of a memorandum, but includes no attachments to the 17 first amended complaint. 13 14 18 C. Discussion 19 The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and 20 from inhumane conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 21 2005). Prison officials must provide prisoners with medical care and personal safety and must 22 take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 23 825, 832–33 (1994) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Prison officials have a duty under 24 the Eighth Amendment to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners because 25 being violently assaulted in prison is simply not part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for 26 their offenses against society. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833–34 (quotation marks omitted); Clem v. 27 Lomeli, 566 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2009); Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 28 2005). 3 1 However, prison officials are liable under the Eighth Amendment only if they demonstrate 2 deliberate indifference to conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate; and it 3 is well settled that deliberate indifference occurs when an official acted or failed to act despite his 4 knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, 841 (quotations 5 omitted); Clem, 566 F.3d at 1181; Hearns, 413 F.3d at 1040. Where the failure to protect is 6 alleged, the defendant must knowingly fail to protect plaintiff from a serious risk of conditions of 7 confinement where defendant had reasonable opportunity to intervene. Orwat v. Maloney, 360 8 F.Supp.2d 146, 155 (D. Mass. 2005), citing Gaudreault v. Municipality of Salem, 923 F.2d 203, 9 207 n.3 (1st Cir. 1991); see also Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 749 (7th Cir. 2006) 10 (defendant’s deliberate indifference must effectively condone the attack by allowing it to happen). 11 “Whether a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a substantial risk is a question of fact 12 subject to demonstrating in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial evidence, and 13 a factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that 14 the risk was obvious.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842 (internal citations omitted). 15 Based on the allegations in the first amended complaint, Plaintiff has failed to state a 16 cognizable failure to protect claim against Defendant Compas, and has failed to state any other 17 claims for relief. Plaintiff’s first amended complaint does not include any allegations that he has 18 suffered any injury at the hands of Defendant Compas or any other person. 19 An amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. Lacey v. Maricopa Cty., 693 20 F.3d 896, 927 (9th Cir. 2012). Therefore, Plaintiff’s amended complaint was required to be 21 “complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading.” Local Rule 220. To 22 the extent Plaintiff’s first amended complaint references allegations made in the original 23 complaint, those allegations are not properly before the Court. 24 III. Failure to Prosecute and Failure to Obey a Court Order 25 A. Legal Standard 26 Local Rule 110 provides that “[f]ailure . . . of a party to comply with these Rules or with 27 any order of the Court may be grounds for imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions . . . 28 within the inherent power of the Court.” District courts have the inherent power to control their 4 1 dockets and “[i]n the exercise of that power they may impose sanctions including, where 2 appropriate, . . . dismissal.” Thompson v. Hous. Auth., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986). A 3 court may dismiss an action, with prejudice, based on a party’s failure to prosecute an action, 4 failure to obey a court order, or failure to comply with local rules. See, e.g., Ghazali v. Moran, 46 5 F.3d 52, 53–54 (9th Cir. 1995) (dismissal for noncompliance with local rule); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 6 963 F.2d 1258, 1260–61 (9th Cir. 1992) (dismissal for failure to comply with an order requiring 7 amendment of complaint); Malone v. U.S. Postal Serv., 833 F.2d 128, 130–33 (9th Cir. 1987) 8 (dismissal for failure to comply with court order). 9 In determining whether to dismiss an action, the Court must consider several factors: 10 (1) the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the Court’s need to manage its 11 docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of 12 cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions. Henderson v. Duncan, 779 13 F.2d 1421, 1423 (9th Cir. 1986); Carey v. King, 856 F.2d 1439, 1440 (9th Cir. 1988). 14 B. Discussion 15 Here, Plaintiff’s second amended complaint is overdue, and he has failed to comply with 16 the Court’s order. The Court cannot effectively manage its docket if Plaintiff ceases litigating his 17 case. Thus, the Court finds that both the first and second factors weigh in favor of dismissal. 18 The third factor, risk of prejudice to defendant, also weighs in favor of dismissal, since a 19 presumption of injury arises from the occurrence of unreasonable delay in prosecuting an action. 20 Anderson v. Air W., 542 F.2d 522, 524 (9th Cir. 1976). The fourth factor usually weighs against 21 dismissal because public policy favors disposition on the merits. Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 22 639, 643 (9th Cir. 2002). However, “this factor lends little support to a party whose 23 responsibility it is to move a case toward disposition on the merits but whose conduct impedes 24 progress in that direction,” which is the case here. In re Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Products 25 Liability Litigation, 460 F.3d 1217, 1228 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). 26 Finally, the Court’s warning to a party that failure to obey the court’s order will result in 27 dismissal satisfies the “considerations of the alternatives” requirement. Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262; 28 Malone, 833 at 132–33; Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1424. The Court’s April 30, 2018 screening 5 1 order expressly warned Plaintiff that his failure to file an amended complaint would result in a 2 recommendation of dismissal of this action, with prejudice, for failure to obey a court order and 3 for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 15, p. 5.) Thus, Plaintiff had adequate warning that 4 dismissal could result from his noncompliance. 5 Additionally, at this stage in the proceedings there is little available to the Court that 6 would constitute a satisfactory lesser sanction while protecting the Court from further 7 unnecessary expenditure of its scarce resources. Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis in this 8 action, making monetary sanctions of little use, and the preclusion of evidence or witnesses is 9 likely to have no effect given that Plaintiff has ceased litigating his case. 10 11 IV. Conclusion and Recommendation Accordingly, the Court finds that dismissal is the appropriate sanction and HEREBY 12 RECOMMENDS that this action be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim 13 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, for failure to obey a Court order, and for Plaintiff’s failure to 14 prosecute this action. 15 These Findings and Recommendation will be submitted to the United States District Judge 16 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen 17 (14) days after being served with these Findings and Recommendation, Plaintiff may file written 18 objections with the Court. The document should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s 19 Findings and Recommendation.” Plaintiff is advised that failure to file objections within the 20 specified time may result in the waiver of the “right to challenge the magistrate’s factual 21 findings” on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 839 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. 22 Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 23 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: /s/ Barbara June 15, 2018 A. McAuliffe _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 26 27 28 6