(PS) Mehmood v. Vincent et al, No. 2:2018cv02906 - Document 4 (E.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Allison Claire on 11/16/18 RECOMMENDING that the 2 IFP Motion be granted and that the Complaint be dismissed with prejudice because it is duplicative of another case pending in this district. Referred to Judge Kimberly J. Mueller; Objections to F&R due within 21 days. (Benson, A.)
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(PS) Mehmood v. Vincent et al Doc. 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 YASIR MEHMOOD, 12 13 14 15 No. 2:18-cv-02906 KJM AC (PS) Plaintiff, v. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS JENNIFER VINCENT, et al., Defendants. 16 17 Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was accordingly referred to the 18 undersigned by E.D. Cal. 302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to proceed in forma 19 pauperis (“IFP”), and has submitted the affidavit required by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. 20 § 1915(a)(1). The motion to proceed IFP (ECF No. 2) will therefore be granted. 21 22 I. Screening The federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally 23 “frivolous or malicious,” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks 24 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A 25 claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. 26 Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court will 27 (1) accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they are clearly 28 baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 (3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff’s favor. See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von Saher v. Norton 2 Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 3 1037 (2011). 4 The court applies the same rules of construction in determining whether the complaint 5 states a claim on which relief can be granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (court 6 must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must 7 construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff). Pro se pleadings are held to a 8 less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 9 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable 10 inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 11 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not suffice 12 to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 13 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 14 To state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege enough facts “to 15 state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has 16 facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the 17 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 18 678. A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity 19 to amend, unless the complaint’s deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Noll v. 20 Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987), superseded on other grounds by statute as stated in 21 Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir.2000)) (en banc). 22 A. The Complaint 23 Plaintiff, a federal inmate, brings suit against defendants Jennifer Vincent (U.S. Postal 24 Inspector), Michale Chavez, and the United States of America. ECF No. 1 at 1, 9. Plaintiff 25 alleges that defendant Chavez searched his property without a warrant on April 3, 2012. Id. at 9. 26 When plaintiff was released pre-trial, he states he allegedly cut off his ankle monitor and was 27 arrested again on March 9, 2013. Id. Plaintiff alleges Vincent and Chavez harassed his wife in 28 connection with the March 9, 2013 arrest and seized $24,000 in cash without a search warrant. 2 1 Id. Plaintiff alleges that the postal inspectors violated due process and his rights secured by the 2 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments. Id. Plaintiff’s criminal case is now closed, and he assets “the crux 3 of this civil case is that this property seized on 3/1/13 was excluded from criminal forfeiture or 4 fine, which establish that it was unlawfully, unreasonably, and unconstitutionally seized[.]” Id. at 5 10. 6 B. Analysis 7 This complaint must be dismissed with prejudice because it is duplicative of another 8 ongoing case in this district, Mehmood v. Chavez, 2:18-cv-00136-CKD. The district court has 9 the power to control its docket, including the power to dismiss claims that are duplicative of 10 claims presented in other cases. M.M. v. Lafayette Sch. Dist., 681 F.3d 1082, 1091 (9th Cir. 11 2012) (affirming district court’s dismissal of claim presented in a separate case). 12 13 14 15 To determine whether a suit is duplicative, we borrow from the test for claim preclusion. As the Supreme Court stated in The Haytian Republic, “the true test of the sufficiency of a plea of ‘other suit pending’ in another forum [i]s the legal efficacy of the first suit, when finally disposed of, as ‘the thing adjudged,’ regarding the matters at issue in the second suit.” 154 U.S. 118, 124 […](1894). 16 Adams v. California Dep’t of Health Servs., 487 F.3d 684, 688–89 (9th Cir. 2007) (overruled on 17 other grounds Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880 (2008)). 18 The Ninth Circuit clarified in Adams that “in assessing whether the second action is 19 duplicative of the first, we examine whether the causes of action and relief sought, as well as the 20 parties or privies to the action, are the same.” Id. “A suit is deemed duplicative if the claims, 21 parties and available relief do not vary significantly between the two actions.” Shappell v. Sun 22 Life Assur. Co., No. 2:10-CV-03020-MCE, 2011 WL 2070405, at *2 (E.D. Cal. May 23, 2011). 23 To assess whether successive causes of action are the same, courts utilize the “transaction test,” 24 which requires consideration of four criteria: 1) whether the rights or interests established in the 25 initial action would be impaired by prosecution of a second suit; 2) whether substantially the 26 same evidence would be presented in both actions; 3) whether both suits involve infringement of 27 the same right; and 4) whether both suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts. 28 Costantini v. Trans World Airlines, 681 F.2d 1199, 1201–02 (9th Cir. 1982). The last factor has 3 1 been deemed the most important. Id. at 1202. 2 Here, all elements are met. As a preliminary matter, the defendants in each of plaintiff’s 3 cases are substantially similar in both suits. In 2:18-cv-00136-CKD (“Mehmood I”), plaintiff 4 presents claims against the United States and Postal Inspector Michael Chavez. Mehmood I, ECF 5 No. 1 at 1. In this case (“Mehmood II”), plaintiff names the same defendants but also includes 6 Jennifer Vincent, whom he refers to as the “postal inspector.” ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff’s 7 inclusion of Ms. Vincent in this case does not substantially distinguish it from Mehmood I 8 because plaintiff’s underlying claim of an unauthorized search is the same; the only difference 9 between Mehmood I and Mehmood II is that in Mehmood II, Ms. Vincent is acting in concert 10 with Mr. Chavez as opposed to Mr. Chavez acting alone. Compare, Mehmood I, ECF No. 1 at 9 11 and Mehmood II, ECF No. 1 at 7. Because Mehmood I is an ongoing case, plaintiff could make a 12 motion in that case to include Ms. Vincent as a defendant; the desire to add Ms. Vincent does not 13 support the filing of a duplicative case. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15. 14 Most importantly, Mehmood I and Mehmood II arise out of the same incident. Both cases 15 seizure of money by U.S. Postal Inspectors occurring on March 9, 2013. Mehmood I, ECF No. 1 16 at 7; Mehmood II, ECF No. 1 at 9. Because both cases arise out of the same incident and involve 17 substantially the same parties, the cases arise from the same transactional nucleus of fact. 18 Costantini, 681 F.2d at 1201–02 (9th Cir. 1982). With two separate lawsuits based on the same 19 incident and involving substantially the same parties, it is axiomatic that the cases will involves 20 substantially the same evidence and that a decision in one case would impair the prosecution of 21 the other. Thus, the elements of the transaction test are satisfied. Id. 22 “It is well established that a district court has broad discretion to control its own docket, 23 and that includes the power to dismiss duplicative claims.” M.M., 681 F.3d at 1091 (9th Cir. 24 2012). This case is duplicative of the case pending at 2:18-cv-00136-CKD. In the interest of the 25 competent administration of justice and judicial economy, it must be dismissed with prejudice in 26 favor of the prosecution of the earlier filed lawsuit. 27 //// 28 //// 4 1 2 II. Conclusion Accordingly, the undersigned recommends that plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma 3 pauperis (ECF No. 2) be GRANTED but that the complaint (ECF No. 1) be DISMISSED with 4 prejudice because it is duplicative of another case pending in this district. 5 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 6 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Within twenty one days 7 after being served with these findings and recommendations, plaintiff may file written objections 8 with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Id.; see also Local Rule 304(b). Such a document 9 should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure 10 to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s 11 order. Turner v. Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153, 12 1156-57 (9th Cir. 1991). 13 DATED: November 16, 2018 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5