(PC) Puryear v. California Correctional Health Care Services et al, No. 2:2016cv01198 - Document 9 (E.D. Cal. 2017)

Court Description: ORDER and FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 4/20/17 granting 2 Motion to Proceed IFP. Plaintiff shall pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. All fees shall be collected in accorda nce with the CDC order filed concurrently herewith. Also, RECOMMENDING that this action be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 USC 1915A and the Clerk be directed to close the case. Referred to Judge Troy L. Nunley. Objections due within 14 days. (Plummer, M)

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(PC) Puryear v. California Correctional Health Care Services et al Doc. 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 BOBBY DAVID PURYEAR, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 2:16-cv-1198-TLN-EFB P v. CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL HEALTH CARE SERVICES, et al., ORDER GRANTING IFP AND RECOMMENDATION OF DISMISSAL PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A Defendants. 16 17 Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 18 19 20 U.S.C. § 1983. He has filed an application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Plaintiff’s application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). 21 22 Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect 23 and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. 24 § 1915(b)(1) and (2). 25 II. Screening Requirement and Standards 26 Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek 27 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 28 § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion Dockets.Justia.com 1 of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which 2 relief may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such 3 relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). 4 A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and 6 plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the 7 defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. 8 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). 9 While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, 10 its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 11 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). 12 To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked 13 assertions,” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of 14 action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of 15 a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 16 678. 17 Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. 18 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual 19 content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the 20 misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a 21 claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. 22 Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the 23 plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). 24 ///// 25 ///// 26 ///// 27 ///// 28 ///// 2 1 2 III. Screening Order The court has reviewed plaintiff’s amended complaint (ECF No. 6) pursuant to § 1915A 3 and finds it must be dismissed.1 The complaint alleges that the confidentiality of plaintiff’s 4 personal information and medical records was breached when an unencrypted laptop was stolen 5 from the vehicle of a California Correctional Health Care Services (“CCHCS”) employee. 6 Attached to the original complaint is a letter from CCHCS notifying plaintiff of this “potential 7 breach.” ECF No. 1, Ex. A. The letter noted that the laptop was password protected, and 8 informed plaintiff as follows: We do not know if any sensitive information was contained in the laptop. To the extent any sensitive information may have been contained in the laptop, we do not know if the information included any of your information. If your information was included, the nature of the information may have included confidential medical, mental health, and custodial information. To the extent any sensitive information may have been contained in the laptop, we estimate that it would have been limited to information related to your custody and care, if any, between 1996 and 2014. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Id. Plaintiff names as defendant Dr. Matolon, the mental health supervisor at CCHCS. ECF No. 16 6. He claims that the failure to encrypt the laptop was “deliberate”, that it violated various state 17 laws, the Fourth Amendment, and also demonstrates a conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of equal 18 protection and due process. Id. at 3. Plaintiff also alleges that “someone has attempted to file 19 income taxes in [his] name.” Id. As set forth below, the complaint demonstrates a lack of 20 standing and otherwise fails to state a cognizable claim under the applicable standards. 21 First, plaintiff is required to establish standing for each claim he asserts. DaimlerChrysler 22 Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 352 (2006). If a plaintiff has no standing, the court has no subject 23 matter jurisdiction. Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n v. Adams, 629 F.2d 587, 593 n. 11 (9th Cir. 1980). 24 There are three requirements that must be met for a plaintiff to have standing: (1) the plaintiff 25 must have suffered an “injury in fact”—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is both 26 27 28 1 Plaintiff has filed two complaints in this action. ECF Nos 1 & 6. In screening this action, the court looks exclusively to the most recent First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6). See Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1989) (holding that an amended pleading supersedes the original). 3 1 concrete and particularized and actual or imminent; (2) there must be a causal connection 2 between the injury and the conduct complained of; and (3) it must be likely that the injury will be 3 redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992); 4 Wash. Legal Found. v. Legal Found. of Wash., 271 F.3d 835, 847 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). 5 The constitutional right to informational privacy extends to medical information. 6 Norman-Bloodsaw v. Lawrence Berkeley Lab., 135 F.3d 1260, 1269 (9th Cir. 1998) (“The 7 constitutionally protected privacy interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters clearly 8 encompasses medical information and its confidentiality.”) (citing Doe v. Attorney Gen. of the 9 United States, 941 F.2d 780, 795 (9th Cir. 1991)). In this case, however, the disclosure of 10 plaintiff’s medical information, and therefore any injury, is entirely speculative. Plaintiff has not 11 shown he has actual standing to sue because the complaint and the referenced letter demonstrate 12 only a “potential” breach of plaintiff’s personal information. It is unknown whether the stolen 13 laptop contained any sensitive information at all, Although plaintiff claims that on some 14 unspecified date, someone “attempted to file income taxes in [his] name,” any causal connection 15 between this alleged misuse of his personal information and the theft of the unencrypted laptop is 16 tenuous. Plaintiff cannot state a claim for relief based upon the speculative breach of his sensitive 17 information. Any claim for violation of his constitutional right to informational privacy should be 18 dismissed without prejudice for lack of standing. See Fleck & Assocs., Inc. v. City of Phoenix, 19 471 F.3d 1100, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 2006) (dismissal for lack of standing is without prejudice). 20 Second, plaintiff names Dr. Matolon as defendant but does not allege that he, or any other 21 individual defendant is liable for any constitutional violation. To state a claim under § 1983, a 22 plaintiff must allege: (1) the violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right; and (2) that the 23 violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 24 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). An individual 25 defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant’s personal 26 involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant’s 27 wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 28 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978). Plaintiff may not 4 1 sue any official on the theory that the official is liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or 2 her subordinates. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). He must identify the particular 3 person or persons who violated his rights. He must also plead facts showing how that particular 4 person was involved in the alleged violation. 5 Third, the complaint fails to state a claim for violation of the Fourth Amendment, which 6 governs the reasonableness of government searches and seizures. Here, no government search or 7 seizure is alleged. See, e.g., ECF No. 1 at 3 (“The laptop was stolen from the person’s personal 8 vehicle and it was unencrypted exposing my confidential medical records and custodial records, 9 myself, to identity theft.”). The Fourth Amendment, therefore, appears to be inapplicable. 10 Plaintiff also fails to state an equal protection claim. To state a § 1983 claim for violation 11 of the Equal Protection Clause, a plaintiff must show that he was treated in a manner inconsistent 12 with others similarly situated, and that the defendants acted with an intent or purpose to 13 discriminate against the plaintiff based upon membership in a protected class.” Thornton v. City 14 of St. Helens, 425 F.3d 1158, 1166-67 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). The 15 allegations present no basis upon which to base a claim for a violation of plaintiff’s equal 16 protection rights. 17 Nor does the complaint state a claim under the Due Process Clause, which protects 18 prisoners from being deprived of property without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 19 U.S. 539, 556. Although plaintiff complains that “this is not a case of simple negligence,” his 20 allegations fail to plausibly demonstrate any conduct beyond negligence, and “[i]t is well 21 established that negligent conduct is ordinarily not enough to state a claim alleging a denial of 22 liberty or property under the Fourteenth Amendment. “ See Doe v. Beard, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23 95643, 2014 WL 3507196, *6 (C.D. Cal. July 14, 2014), citing Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 24 327, 330 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347 (1986) (“[T]he Due Process Clause of 25 the Fourteenth Amendment is not implicated by the lack of due care of an official causing 26 unintended injury to life, liberty or property. In other words, where a government official is 27 merely negligent in causing the injury, no procedure for compensation is constitutionally 28 required.”). 5 1 As set forth above, the complaint demonstrates that plaintiff has no standing to pursue a 2 federal claim and otherwise fails to demonstrate a violation of plaintiff’s federal rights. As such, 3 the court declines to address plaintiff’s purported state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367. 4 Leave to amend in this case would be futile, as the complaint and its attachments reveal 5 that there is no actual or concrete injury to plaintiff. Because these deficiencies cannot be cured 6 by further amendment, the complaint must be dismissed without leave to amend. Silva v. Di 7 Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1105 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Dismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to 8 amend is proper only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be 9 cured by amendment.” (internal quotation marks omitted)); Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 10 497 (9th Cir. 1995) (“[A] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend 11 the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not be cured by the allegation 12 of other facts.”). Further, the dismissal is without prejudice should plaintiff’s claims ever ripen to 13 an actual case or controversy arising from an injury due to an actual disclosure of any of his 14 information. 15 IV. 16 Summary Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 17 1. Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted. 18 2. Plaintiff shall pay the statutory filing fee of $350. All payments shall be collected in 19 accordance with the notice to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 20 filed concurrently herewith. 21 Further, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that this action be dismissed without 22 prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the Clerk be directed to close the case. 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 ///// 6 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: April 20, 2017. 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 7

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