United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES United States District Judge
a prisoner civil rights case. Pending before the Court is a
motion to dismiss or for summary judgment.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Donald R. Barren is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada
Department of Corrections (“NDOC”). He sued
Defendants in this Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of his civil rights. The Complaint listed ten
causes of action. The Court dismissed the Complaint upon
screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court of Appeals
affirmed as to Counts I through VIII but reversed in part as
to Counts IX and X, ruling that Plaintiff should have been
given leave to amend those claims. Upon remand, Plaintiff
filed the Amended Complaint (“AC”), listing
Counts IX and X from the Complaint as Counts I and II of the
AC, and moved for offensive summary judgment. The Court
denied the motion and dismissed the AC, with leave to amend,
because Plaintiff had prayed only for relief that was not
available. Plaintiff has filed the Second Amended Complaint
(“SAC”), and Defendants have asked the Court to
dismiss it for failure to state a claim or to grant them
defensive summary judgment.
Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief” in order to “give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) mandates that a court dismiss a cause of
action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
complaint's sufficiency. See N. Star Int'l v.
Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir.
1983). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is
appropriate only when the complaint does not give the
defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the
grounds on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering
whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the
court will take all material allegations as true and construe
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL
Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir.
1986). The court, however, is not required to accept as true
allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted
deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See
Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988
(9th Cir. 2001).
formulaic recitation of a cause of action with conclusory
allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts
pertaining to his own case making a violation
“plausible, ” not just “possible.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009)
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (“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.”). That is, under the modern interpretation of
Rule 8(a), a plaintiff must not only specify or imply a
cognizable legal theory (Conley review), he must
also allege the facts of his case so that the court can
determine whether he has any basis for relief under the legal
theory he has specified or implied, assuming the facts are as
he alleges (Twombly-Iqbal review). Put differently,
Conley only required a plaintiff to identify a major
premise (a legal theory) and conclude liability therefrom,
but Twombly-Iqbal requires a plaintiff additionally
to allege minor premises (facts of the plaintiff's case)
such that the syllogism showing liability is complete and
that liability necessarily, not only possibly, follows
(assuming the allegations of fact are true).
a district court may not consider any material beyond the
pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. However,
material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint
may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Hal
Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896
F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
Similarly, “documents whose contents are alleged in a
complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but
which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be
considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss” without converting the motion to dismiss into
a motion for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14
F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Moreover, under Federal Rule
of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of
“matters of public record.” Mack v. S. Bay
Beer Distribs., Inc., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir.
1986). Otherwise, if the district court considers materials
outside of the pleadings, the motion to dismiss is converted
into a motion for summary judgment. See Arpin v. Santa
Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir.
must grant summary judgment when “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). Material facts are those which may affect
the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a
material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for
a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. See Id. A principal purpose of summary
judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
determining summary judgment, a court uses a burden-shifting
scheme. The moving party must first satisfy its initial
burden. “When the party moving for summary judgment
would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward
with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if
the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.” C.A.R.
Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d
474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears
the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party
can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence
to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed
to make a showing sufficient to establish an element
essential to that party's case on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24.
moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary
judgment must be denied, and the court need not consider the
nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). If the moving party
meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party to establish a genuine issue of material
fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the
existence of a factual dispute, the nonmoving party need not
establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor.
It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be
shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties'
differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W.
Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n,
809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the
nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying
solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by facts.
See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir.
1989). Instead, the nonmoving party must go beyond the
assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth
specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a
genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e);
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.
summary judgment stage, a court's function is not to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine
whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmoving
party is “to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id.
at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely
colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment
may be granted. See Id. at 249-50. Notably, facts
are only viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party where there is a genuine dispute about those facts.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). That is,
even where the underlying claim contains a reasonableness
test, where a party's evidence is so clearly ...