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Irby v. State

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

December 13, 2017

TERRANCE JON IRBY, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al. et al, Defendants.

          NOTED FOR: JANUARY 5, 2018

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          J. Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge

         Sometimes, too much is simply not enough. Here, plaintiff has filed, and continues to file, a plethora of pleadings, but so far, none of them set forth a simple plain statement that would entitle him to relief. Until and unless he can do so, the Court will continue to recommend that his complaints be dismissed. The Court recommends that he again be given one more chance to do so. In the future, failure to provide such a plain statement will result in a dismissal of his claim with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND and PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently held at the Washington Corrections Center (“WCC”), originally filed this action in March of 2015. Dkt. 1. He subsequently filed three other cases based on similar facts. See Irby v. Gilbert, No. 3:16-cv-05052-RBL-JRC; Irby v. Guidry, No. 3:17-cv-05070-RBL-JRC; Irby v. Abraha, No. 3:17-cv-05377-RBL-JRC. In June of 2017, the Court ordered that those three cases be consolidated with the present case as the lead case. Dkt. 113. The Court ordered plaintiff to file a consolidated complaint, setting forth all allegations from all four cases. Id.

         Plaintiff filed his amended complaint. Dkt. 116. Defendants filed an answer. Dkt. 124. Both parties subsequently filed numerous motions, asking for extensions of time, leave to file excess pages, and moving to dismiss the action. See Dkt. The Court eventually ordered that plaintiff file a second amended complaint. Dkt. 157. Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint in September of 2017 (Dkt. 165), and shortly thereafter filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss several defendants (Dkt. 162). Plaintiff then filed a “corrected” second amended complaint (Dkt. 167), a motion to correct/amend the corrected second amended complaint (Dkt. 178), and a second motion to correct/amend the corrected second amended complaint (Dkt. 182).

         Defendants filed responses, explaining that plaintiff had filed so many documents, they were unclear which was the operative complaint and therefore did not understand what the Court expected them to respond to. Dkts. 185, 186, 187. To clarify, the Court ordered that the most recent proposed complaint (Dkt. 178 at 1-30) be docketed as plaintiff's third amended complaint and that defendants respond to that. Dkts. 189, 190. The third amended complaint made numerous allegations, including claims for deliberate indifference, claims under the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), claims challenging his conditions of confinement and access to courts, and claims for conspiracy. Dkt. 190. Both the state defendants and defendant Guidry filed motions to dismiss in response. Dkts. 198, 208. Plaintiff responded (Dkts. 219, 220, 221) and defendants replied (Dkts. 226, 227). Plaintiff has subsequently filed a series of additional motions that are still pending before the Court. Dkts. 203, 204, 215, 228, 229, 230, 231.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can be granted only if the complaint, with all factual allegations accepted as true, fails to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). Mere conclusory statements in a complaint and “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are not sufficient. Id.; 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).

         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”).

         MATERIALS FOR CONSIDERATION

         The Court has considered plaintiff's third amended complaint (Dkt. 190), defendants' motions for dismissal (Dkts. 198, 208), plaintiff's responses to those motions (Dkts. 219, 220, 221), and defendants' replies (Dkts. 226, 227). The Court has also considered plaintiff's notice of voluntary dismissal as to 11 defendants. Dkt. 239.

         DISCUSSION

         The first step in a § 1983 claim is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, at least two elements must be met: (1) the alleged infringement must have been proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law and (2) defendants' conduct must have deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Paratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981). A third element of causation is implicit in the second element. See Mt. Healthy City School Dist. Bd. Of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 286-87 (1977); Flores v. Pierce, 617 F.2d 1386, 1390-91 (9th Cir. 1980), cert denied, 449 U.S. 875 (1980). A plaintiff must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981). Defendants do not contest that they were acting under the color of state law and thus, the Court addresses whether defendants' conduct deprived plaintiff of any constitutional rights.

         I. Defendants as the State or Arms of the State

         In his complaint, plaintiff names the State of Washington as well as the “entity-municipality (SCCC) (CBCC), ” which this Court interprets to refer to the Stafford Creek Corrections Center (“SCCC”) and the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (“CBCC”) respectively. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 applies to the actions of “persons” acting under color of state law. However, for the purposes of § 1983, a state is not a “person.” See Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 69 (1997); Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Similarly, an agency that is an arm of the state is also not a “person” under § 1983. See Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365 (1990); also Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (per curiam) (concluding that the suit against the state Board of Corrections was barred by the Eleventh Amendment).

         Here, defendants Washington, SCCC, and CBCC cannot be held liable under § 1983. Because defendant Washington is a state, it is not a “person” for § 1983 purposes. Defendants SCCC and CBCC are both prisons run by the Washington Department of Corrections -- a state agency. Similar to states, state agencies cannot be sued under § 1983. Because of this, plaintiff has named these defendants improperly. Therefore, the Court recommends the three above noted defendants be dismissed from the action.

         II. ...


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