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Rautio v. Frey

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 27, 2017


          Bryce Allen Rautio, pro se.

          Gerald L. Warren and Nicholas J. Naumes, Of Attorneys for Defendants.


          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Bryce Allen Rautio has sued Deputy John Frey, Sergeant Mike Redding, Sergeant Richard Bittick, and Sergeant Laura Westfall (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants imprisoned him pursuant to an allegedly invalid commitment order issued by a municipal court judge in Dallas, OR. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants asked the judge to illegally amend the sentence and refused to release him after he proved his innocence.[1] Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss is granted.


         A complaint filed in forma pauperis may be dismissed at any time, including before service of process, if the Court determines that the action is: (1) “frivolous or malicious”; (2) “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted”; or (3) “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A complaint is frivolous “where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Martin v. Sias, 88 F.3d 774, 775 (9th Cir. 1996). The term “frivolous, ” when used to describe a complaint, “embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325.

         A complaint fails to state a claim when there is no cognizable legal theory or the factual allegations are insufficient to support a claim for relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Wilson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). But to be entitled to a presumption of truth, the complaint must do more than simply allege legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). The plaintiff “may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must [provide] sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The underlying factual allegations must “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Baca, 652 F.3d at 1216 (emphasis added). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         Pro se plaintiffs receive special dispensation. A court must liberally construe the filings of a pro se plaintiff and afford the plaintiff the benefit of any reasonable doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). “‘Unless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect, . . . a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action.'” Garity v. APWU Nat'l Labor Org., 828 F.3d 848, 854 (9th Cir. 2016) (alteration in original) (quoting Lucas v. Dep't of Corrections, 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam)). But even a pro se plaintiff must offer more than “‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).


         Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants, all officers at the Polk County Jail, for violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 26, 2015, Judge Jonathan Clark, City of Dallas Municipal Court, sentenced Plaintiff to 84 days in the Polk County Jail after Plaintiff was convicted of driving under the influence. ECF 2-1 at 17-19. Judge Clark's original commitment order indicates that Plaintiff received credit for time served. Judge Clark also issued an amended commitment order and a second amended commitment order, each imposing a sentence of 84 days in jail and giving Plaintiff credit for time served. ECF 2-1 at 18-19.

         Plaintiff was allegedly delivered to the custody of the Polk County Jail on March 26, 2015, to serve his sentence. Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Frey requested the two amended commitment orders from Judge Clark ex parte after Plaintiff had already arrived at the Jail. Deputy Frey allegedly received the support of his “superiors.” ECF 2-1 at 4. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants, all officers at the Polk County Jail, refused to release him after he proved his innocence. ECF 2 at 5.

         Plaintiff alleges that the sentence imposed by Judge Clark was for a probation violation. Because Judge Clark's jurisdiction to sentence him for a probation violation ended in 2012, Plaintiff claims, Judge Clark had no authority to sentence Plaintiff. Thus, Plaintiff claims that Defendants imprisoned him wrongfully. Plaintiff seeks $100, 000 in compensatory damages, $3 million in punitive damages, and a “clean criminal record.” ECF 2 at 6.


         The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint and the documents attached thereto. Liberally construed, Plaintiff has five legal claims: (1) Judge Clark's original commitment order was invalid because Judge Clark had no jurisdiction to sentence Plaintiff; (2) with the support of his “superiors, ” Deputy Frey had an improper ex parte contact with Judge Clark in which Deputy Frey asked Judge Clark to amend Plaintiff's sentence; (3) the two amended commitment orders were invalid because Judge Clark entered them outside Plaintiff's presence; (4) Defendants wrongfully imprisoned Plaintiff pursuant to an ...

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