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Harris v. Balderama

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

October 19, 2017




         The District Court has referred this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), and local Magistrate Judge Rules MJR1, MJR3 and MJR4.

         Plaintiff Ray Charles Harris alleges his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when Defendants failed to provide him with adequate HIV treatment. Both Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming Plaintiff has not alleged deliberate indifference by the Defendants, he has made a conclusory Fourteenth Amendment claim, and he has not exhausted his administrative remedies. The Court finds Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because he alleges mere negligence on the part of Defendants and does not provide enough facts to allege a Fourteenth Amendment violation. Therefore, the Court grants Defendants' Motions (Dkts. 26, 28), but gives Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff must file the Second Amended Complaint on or before November 20, 2017.


         A court may grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief.” Keniston v. Roberts, 717 F.2d 1295, 1300 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1990)). Mere conclusory statements in a complaint and “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are not sufficient. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108-09 (9th Cir. 2012). “Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Ballistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         On a motion to dismiss, material allegations of the complaint are taken as admitted and the complaint is to be liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969), reh'g denied, 396 U.S. 869 (1969); Sherman v. Yakahi, 549 F.2d 1287, 1290 (9th Cir. 1977). When a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his allegations must be viewed under a less stringent standard than allegations of plaintiffs represented by counsel. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), reh'g denied, 405 U.S. 948 (1972); Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n. 1 (9th Cir.1985) (en banc) (petitioner should be afforded the “benefit of any doubt”).

         While the court can liberally construe a plaintiff's complaint, it cannot supply an essential fact an inmate has failed to plead. Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Ivey v. Board of Regents of University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). The court need not accept as true unreasonable inferences or conclusory legal allegations cast in the form of factual allegations. See Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).


         Generally, a court may not consider material beyond the complaint in ruling on a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). Therefore, the Court examines Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Dkt. 22), Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Dkts. 26, 28), Plaintiff's Response (Dkt. 30), and Defendants' Replies (Dkt. 31, 32). The Court notes Plaintiff has also filed a Response to Defendants' Replies (Dkt. 35). However, Local Civil Rule 7(b) does not provide for such a filing. Therefore, the Court will not consider it.


         Plaintiff, a pre-trial detainee at the Pierce County Jail at all relevant times, originally filed this action alleging Defendants violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights. Dkt. 4. Both Defendants file a motion to to dismiss (Dkt. 17, 19), and the Court granted their motions (Dkt. 22). However, the Court gave Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint. Id.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint, alleging Defendants' violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights when they failed to provide him with treatment related to his HIV. Dkt. 23. Both Defendants again filed a motion to dismiss, claiming Plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to establish a claim for which relief can be granted. Dkt. 26, 28.


         I. Eighth Amendment ...

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