United States District Court, D. Oregon
RONALD E. BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
MARK NOOTH, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL H. SIMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
States Magistrate Judge Paul Papak issued Findings and
Recommendation in this case on December 12, 2017. ECF 58.
Judge Papak recommended that Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment be denied and Defendants' motion for
summary judgment be granted.
the Federal Magistrates Act (“Act”), the Court
may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). If a party
files objections to a magistrate's findings and
recommendations, “the court shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
those portions of a magistrate's findings and
recommendations to which neither party has objected, the Act
does not prescribe any standard of review. See Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 152 (1985) (“There is no
indication that Congress, in enacting [the Act], intended to
require a district judge to review a magistrate's report
to which no objections are filed.”); United States.
v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en
banc) (holding that the court must review de novo
magistrate's findings and recommendations if objection is
made, “but not otherwise”). Although in the
absence of objections no review is required, the Act
“does not preclude further review by the district
judge sua sponte . . . under a de novo or
any other standard.” Thomas, 474 U.S. at 154.
Indeed, the Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)
recommend that “[w]hen no timely objection is filed,
” the Court review the magistrate's recommendations
for “clear error on the face of the record.”
proceeding pro se, timely filed an objection (ECF
61). Plaintiff objects to all of the findings and conclusions
in the Findings and Recommendations. Accordingly, the Court
reviews the pending motions de novo.
Ronald E. Bradley originally brought pro se a claim
against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting
that Defendants violated Plaintiff's due process rights.
Plaintiff alleged that Defendants deprived Plaintiff of his
personal property without proper process by considering
Plaintiff's move from Snake River Correctional
Institution (“SRCI”) to county jail after
Plaintiff had obtained a partial remand from the appeal of
his original criminal conviction to be a
“transfer” instead of a “transport.”
As a result, after Plaintiff left SRCI in January 2013, his
property was disposed of under Oregon Administrative Rule
291-117-0110(6) (the “Transfer Rule”) instead of
Rule 291-117-0120(6) (the “Transport Rule”).
Plaintiff's property was shipped to his mother's
residence and when Plaintiff was moved back to SRCI in
December 2013, he no longer had access to his property.
Plaintiff alleged that Defendants acted with disregard in
interpreting and applying the Oregon Administrative Rules for
handling personal property with respect to inmate transfers
further alleged that upon his return to SRCI, he filed
grievances relating to his property. He then filed a small
claims action in state court. Although the state court judge
ruled in favor of SRCI, the state court judge noted that the
Transport Rule (under which property is stored) had been
28, 2016, the Court sua sponte dismissed
Plaintiff's claims. ECF 6. The Court dismissed
Plaintiff's claims for two reasons. First, because
Plaintiff had already unsuccessfully adjudicated his loss of
personal property in an Oregon small claims action, Plaintiff
could not challenge in federal court the unfavorable decision
by the small claims court. Second, the Court found that
because the Oregon Tort Claims Act provides an adequate
postdeprivation process and remedy, the alleged lack of
predeprivation process was not actionable under Section 1983.
August 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a). ECF 8.
Plaintiff again noted that the small claims judge had
commented that the rule was poorly written. Plaintiff
questioned the adequacy of the postdeprivation remedy
provided by the Oregon Administrative Rules. Construing
Plaintiff's motion liberally, the Court interpreted the
motion to clarify the claim Plaintiff intended to allege in
his complaint. Based on this construction, the Court
understood Plaintiff to be alleging that Defendants followed
their usual administrative practice in disposing of
Plaintiff's property without predeprivation process and
that Plaintiff sought injunctive relief to require that
Defendants' administrative process for disposing of
inmate property when “transferring” or
“transporting” inmates comply with due process
requirements. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration, finding that as so clarified, Plaintiff was
alleging that the disposition of Plaintiff's property was
not a “random and unauthorized” deprivation of
property such that postdeprivation process would suffice but
was instead alleging deprivation of property from an
administrative process that did not provide adequate process.
Under this type of alleged conduct, postdeprivation remedies
could not save an otherwise unconstitutional act. See
Quick v. Jones, 754 F.2d 1521, 1524 (9th Cir. 1985)
(noting that when “the prison officials' actions
followed an administrative process” that did not
provide adequate process, it is “not the kind of
‘random and unauthorized conduct' at issue in
Parratt and Hudson, and therefore, unlike
in those two cases . . . the state could have provided
predeprivation processes”); see also Zimmerman v.
City of Oakland, 255 F.3d 734, 738 (9th Cir. 2001)
(“But the [Supreme] Court made it clear that the
holdings in both cases [Parratt and Hudson]
were restricted to cases in which prison officials acted in
random, unpredictable, and unauthorized ways. The Court
stated explicitly that postdeprivation remedies could not
save an otherwise unconstitutional act from
unconstitutionality in cases in which the state officer acted
pursuant to some established procedure.”).
Court further held that although the availability of a
postdeprivation remedy may not be dispositive of
Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief regarding the
alleged unconstitutional administrative process, Plaintiff
would have standing to bring such a claim only if he could
demonstrate a realistic threat of repeated future injury. The
Court noted that it appears that the only way to demonstrate
such a threat in this case would be for Plaintiff to allege
that he is likely to win another appeal and again be
transferred to county jail, which the Court found to be
unlikely. Nonetheless, because it was not absolutely clear
that Plaintiff could not allege sufficient facts to establish
standing, the Court allowed Plaintiff to replead this claim.
respect to Plaintiff's claim for money damages, however,
the Court reaffirmed its previous holding that this claim was
fully and finally litigated in small claims court and that
Plaintiff was thus precluded from adjudicating that claim in
federal court. The Court thus declined to reconsider its
dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for money damages with
then filed his First Amended Complaint. In this complaint,
similar to Plaintiff's original complaint, it is not
clear that Plaintiff is alleging an administrative process
that violates inmates' constitutional rights.
Plaintiff's claim for relief alleged in his amended
complaint is that the named defendants acted with disregard
to the proper interpretation and application of the
administrative procedures adopted in relation to the
disposition of inmate property. This mirrors what Plaintiff
had alleged in his original complaint, which is the claim the
Court had originally interpreted as a claim for a random and
unauthorized deprivation of property rather than a claim of a
constitutionally-deficient administrative process.
added allegations, however, relating to how he is facing
repeated threat of future injury. Plaintiff alleges that he
filed another appeal, the second appeal was granted, he will
thus be “going back to Washington County jail”
for further court proceedings, and his personal property will
again have to be disposed of in some manner. Plaintiff
alleges that he therefore faces a threat of repeated harm
that is not conjectural or hypothetical.
filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff lacks
standing; that he fails to state a claim because there is an
adequate postdeprivation remedy; that even if Plaintiff does
challenge Oregon's administrative system, the Oregon
Administrative Rules at issue are constitutional and comport
with due process; that Plaintiff fails to state a claim
against Defendants in their personal capacity because
injunctive and declaratory relief cannot be sought against
them in that capacity; and that Defendants are protected by
qualified immunity when sued in their official capacity.
Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on his due
Article III Standing
U.S. Constitution confers limited authority on the federal
courts to hear only active cases or controversies brought
with standing. See Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct.
1540, 1546-47 (2016); Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc.,
133 S.Ct. 721, 726 (2013). Standing “limits the
category of litigants empowered to maintain a lawsuit in
federal court to seek redress for a legal wrong.”
Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1547.
standing, a plaintiff must have a “personal interest .
. . at the commencement of the litigation.” Friends
of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc.,
528 U.S. 167, 189 (2000). The constitutionally required
personal interest must satisfy three elements: (1) an
injury-in-fact, i.e., an invasion of a legally
protected interest that is concrete and particularized, as
well as actual or imminent; (2) a causal connection between
the injury-in-fact and the defendant's challenged
behavior; and (3) likelihood that the injury-in-fact will be
redressed by a favorable ruling. Id. at 180-81, 189;
see also Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1547 (reiterating that
the “irreducible constitutional minimum” of
standing consists of “an injury in fact . . . fairly
traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and . .
. likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
injury is “particularized” if it “affect[s]
the plaintiff in a personal and individual way.”
Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1548 (quoting Lujan v.
Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 n.1 (1992)). An
injury is “concrete” if it is
“‘de facto'; that is, it must
actually exist, ” meaning that it is
“‘real' and not ‘abstract.'”
Id. “‘Concrete' is not, however,
necessarily synonymous with ‘tangible.' Although
tangible injuries are perhaps easier to recognize, [the
Supreme Court has] confirmed in many . . . previous cases
that intangible injuries can nevertheless be concrete.”
Id. at 1549.
federal court does not have jurisdiction “to give
opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to
declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the
matter in issue in the case before it.” Church of
Scientology of Cal. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12
(1992) (quoting Mills v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653
(1895)). “A claim is moot if it has lost its character
as a present, live controversy.” Rosemere
Neighborhood Ass'n v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 581
F.3d 1169, 1172-73 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Am. Rivers v.
Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv., 126 F.3d 1118, 1123
(9th Cir. 1997)). To determine mootness, “the question
is not whether the precise relief sought at the time the
application for an injunction was filed is still available.
The question is whether there can be any effective
relief.” Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr. v. Gordon, 849
F.2d 1241, 1244-45 (9th Cir. 1988) (quoting Garcia v.
Lawn, 805 F.2d 1400, 1403 (9th Cir. 1986)) (emphasis in
original). If a course of action is mostly completed but
modifications can be made that could alleviate the harm
suffered by the plaintiff's injury, the issue is not
moot. Tyler v. Cuomo, 236 F.3d 1124, 1137 (9th Cir.
2000). A case becomes moot “only when it is impossible
for a court to grant any effectual relief whatever
to the prevailing party.” Chafin v. Chafin,
133 S.Ct. 1017, 1023 (2013) (emphasis added) (citation
omitted). The party alleging mootness bears a “heavy
burden” to establish that a court can provide no
effective relief. Karuk Tribe of Cal. v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 681 F.3d 1006, 1017 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Forest Guardians v. Johanns, 450 F.3d 455, 461 (9th
and mootness are similar doctrines: Both require some sort of
interest in the case, and both go to whether there is a case
or controversy under Article III.” Jackson v. Cal.
Dept. of Mental Health, 399 F.3d 1069, 1072 (9th Cir.
2005). The doctrines, however, have important
differences-standing doctrine ensures that scarce judicial
resources are devoted to disputes in which the parties have a
concrete stake, and “[m]ootness issues arise later in
the case, when the federal courts are already involved and
resources have already been devoted to the dispute.”
Id. at 1072-73. That is why the Supreme Court
recognizes exceptions to mootness that are not allowed as
exceptions to standing, such as the exceptions for
“voluntary cessation” and “capable of
repetition, yet evading review.” See Laidlaw,
528 U.S. at 189-90.
Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted
only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the
claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual
allegations to state a facially plausible 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 construe them in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. 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). To be entitled to a
presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint “may
not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must
contain 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). All reasonable inferences from the
factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
Newcal Indus. v. Ikon Office Solution, 513 F.3d
1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however,
credit the plaintiff's legal conclusions that are couched
as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678-79 (2009).
complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to
“plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that
it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be
subjected to the expense of discovery and continued
litigation.” Starr, 652 F.3d at 1216. “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
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)). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2),
however, every complaint must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” This standard “does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations, '” but
does demand “more than an unadorned, the
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). “A pleading that offers ‘labels
and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
is entitled to summary judgment if the “movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the burden of
establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable
inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks
Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257
(9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions,
not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is]
insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where ...