(PC)Fuller v. California Correctional Health Services et al, No. 2:2016cv01440 - Document 8 (E.D. Cal. 2017)

Court Description: ORDER and FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 04/19/17 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 accord ance with the court's 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)Fuller v. California Correctional Health Services et al Doc. 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JONATHAN CONRAD FULLER, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 2:16-cv-1440-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 III. 25 26 27 28 Screening Order The court has reviewed plaintiff’s second amended complaint (ECF No. 7) pursuant to § 1915A and finds it must be dismissed.1 The complaint alleges that the California Correctional 1 Plaintiff has filed three complaints in this action. ECF Nos 1, 5, & 7. In screening this action, the court looks to the most recent second amended complaint (ECF No. 7). See Hal 2 1 Health Care Services (“CCHCS”) and the California Department of Corrections and 2 Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) breached the confidentiality of plaintiff’s personal information and 3 medical records when an unencrypted laptop was stolen from the vehicle of a CCHCS employee. 4 Plaintiff alleges he is now exposed to identity theft. Attached to the original complaint is a letter 5 from CCHCS notifying plaintiff of this “potential breach.” ECF No. 1, Ex. A. The letter noted 6 that the laptop was password protected, and informed plaintiff as follows: 7 8 9 10 11 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. 12 13 Id. Plaintiff claims that the failure to encrypt the laptop was deliberate and that it was not 14 properly “expunged.” He claims it was “hap-hazardly placed [] in a personal vehicle whereupon 15 it was stolen by person(s) unknown.” ECF No. 7 at 12. He claims violations of various state 16 laws, the Fourth Amendment, due process, and the existence of a conspiracy to deprive him of 17 equal protection. As set forth below, the complaint demonstrates a lack of standing, may attempt 18 to name defendants who are immune from suit, and otherwise fails to state a cognizable claim 19 under the applicable standards. 20 First, plaintiff is required to establish standing for each claim he asserts. DaimlerChrysler 21 Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 352 (2006). If a plaintiff has no standing, the court has no subject 22 matter jurisdiction. Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n v. Adams, 629 F.2d 587, 593 n. 11 (9th Cir. 1980). 23 There are three requirements that must be met for a plaintiff to have standing: (1) the plaintiff 24 must have suffered an “injury in fact”—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is both 25 concrete and particularized and actual or imminent; (2) there must be a causal connection 26 between the injury and the conduct complained of; and (3) it must be likely that the injury will be 27 28 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 redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992); 2 Wash. Legal Found. v. Legal Found. of Wash., 271 F.3d 835, 847 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). 3 The constitutional right to informational privacy extends to medical information. 4 Norman-Bloodsaw v. Lawrence Berkeley Lab., 135 F.3d 1260, 1269 (9th Cir. 1998) (“The 5 constitutionally protected privacy interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters clearly 6 encompasses medical information and its confidentiality.”) (citing Doe v. Attorney Gen. of the 7 United States, 941 F.2d 780, 795 (9th Cir. 1991)). In this case, however, the disclosure of 8 plaintiff’s medical information, and therefore any injury, is entirely speculative. Plaintiff has not 9 shown he has actual standing to sue because the complaint and the referenced letter demonstrate 10 only a “potential” breach of plaintiff’s personal information. It is unknown whether the stolen 11 laptop contained any sensitive information at all and even if it did, plaintiff alleges no actual 12 misuse of such information. Plaintiff cannot state a claim for relief based upon the speculative 13 breach of his sensitive information. Any claim for violation of his constitutional right to 14 informational privacy should be dismissed without prejudice for lack of standing. See Fleck & 15 Assocs., Inc. v. City of Phoenix, 471 F.3d 1100, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 2006) (dismissal for lack of 16 standing is without prejudice). 17 Second, to the extent plaintiff wishes to impose liability on state agencies, such as CDCR 18 and CCHCS, the court notes that they are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.2 19 See Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989); Lucas v. Dep’t of Corr., 66 20 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (holding that prisoner’s Eighth Amendment claims 21 against CDCR for damages and injunctive relief were barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity); 22 Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (Eleventh Amendment 23 immunity extends to state agencies); see also Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 30 (1991) (clarifying 24 that Eleventh Amendment does not bar suits against state officials sued in their individual 25 ///// 26 27 28 2 Although the second amended complaint identifies “Dr. Matolon” as the sole defendant, it also refers to “defendants,” which suggests that plaintiff may also wish to impose liability on CDCR and CCHCS, who were identified as defendants in the original complaint, see ECF No. 1. 4 1 capacities, nor does it bar suits for prospective injunctive relief against state officials sued in their 2 official capacities). 3 Third, plaintiff names Dr. Matolon as defendant but does not allege that he, or any other 4 individual defendant is liable for any constitutional violation. To state a claim under § 1983, a 5 plaintiff must allege: (1) the violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right; and (2) that the 6 violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 7 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). An individual 8 defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant’s personal 9 involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant’s 10 wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 11 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978). Plaintiff may not 12 sue any official on the theory that the official is liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or 13 her subordinates. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). He must identify the particular 14 person or persons who violated his rights. He must also plead facts showing how that particular 15 person was involved in the alleged violation. 16 Fourth, the complaint fails to state a claim for violation of the Fourth Amendment, which 17 governs the reasonableness of government searches and seizures. Here, no government search or 18 seizure is alleged. See, e.g. ECF No. 7 at 3 (“The laptop was stolen from a person’s personal 19 vehicle causing an illegal data disclosure and data breach causing a lack of confidentiality and 20 integrity in my personal identifiable information.”). The Fourth Amendment, therefore, appears 21 to be inapplicable. 22 Fifth, the complaint fails to state an equal protection claim. To state a § 1983 claim for 23 violation of the Equal Protection Clause, a plaintiff must show that he was treated in a manner 24 inconsistent with others similarly situated, and that the defendants acted with an intent or purpose 25 to discriminate against the plaintiff based upon membership in a protected class.” Thornton v. 26 City of St. Helens, 425 F.3d 1158, 1166-67 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). There 27 are no allegations demonstrating a violation of plaintiff’s equal protection rights. 28 ///// 5 1 Nor does the complaint state a claim under the Due Process Clause, which protects 2 prisoners from being deprived of property without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 3 U.S. 539, 556. Although plaintiff complains that the alleged breach was “beyond negligence,” his 4 allegations fail to plausibly demonstrate any willful conduct, and “[i]t is well established that 5 negligent conduct is ordinarily not enough to state a claim alleging a denial of liberty or property 6 under the Fourteenth Amendment. “ See Doe v. Beard, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95643, 2014 WL 7 3507196, *6 (C.D. Cal. July 14, 2014), citing Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330 (1986); 8 Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347 (1986) (“[T]he Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth 9 Amendment is not implicated by the lack of due care of an official causing unintended injury to 10 life, liberty or property. In other words, where a government official is merely negligent in 11 causing the injury, no procedure for compensation is constitutionally required.”). 12 As set forth above, the complaint demonstrates that plaintiff has no standing to pursue a 13 federal claim and otherwise fails to demonstrate a violation of plaintiff’s federal rights. As such, 14 the court declines to address plaintiff’s purported state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367. 15 Leave to amend in this case would be futile, as the complaint and its attachments reveal 16 that there is no actual or concrete injury to plaintiff. Because these deficiencies cannot be cured 17 by further amendment, the complaint must be dismissed without leave to amend. Silva v. Di 18 Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1105 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Dismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to 19 amend is proper only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be 20 cured by amendment.” (internal quotation marks omitted)); Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 21 497 (9th Cir. 1995) (“[A] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend 22 the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not be cured by the allegation 23 of other facts.”). Further, the dismissal is without prejudice should plaintiff’s claims ever ripen to 24 an actual case or controversy arising from an injury due to an actual disclosure of any of his 25 information. 26 ///// 27 ///// 28 ///// 6 1 2 IV. Summary Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 3 1. Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted. 4 2. Plaintiff shall pay the statutory filing fee of $350. All payments shall be collected in 5 accordance with the notice to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 6 filed concurrently herewith. 7 Further, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that this action be dismissed without 8 prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the Clerk be directed to close the case. 9 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 10 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 11 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 12 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 13 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure to file objections 14 within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Turner v. 15 Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 16 DATED: April 19, 2017. 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7