United States District Court, D. Nevada
FOLEY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the Screening of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23), filed on
October 27, 2017. Plaintiff was granted in forma
pauperis status on October 2, 2017. See Screening
Order (ECF No. 22).
brings this “tort action” and alleges that
Defendants violated his civil rights because they were
negligent in failing to place warning labels on their coffee
products, which contain caffeine. Plaintiff asserts that due
to Defendants' negligence, he now suffers from insomnia,
hypertension, kidney and liver damage, migraines, mild heart
murmurs, mild heart attacks, constant anxiety and fear of
death, tooth decay, painful withdrawals and a life-long
addition to Defendants' products. Had Defendants placed
warning labels on their products, Plaintiff contends that he
would have been able to make an informed decision on whether
or how much coffee to consume. Plaintiff now seeks punitive
and compensatory damages.
Screening the Amended Complaint
courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must
identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that
are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A,
pursuant to the PLRA, a federal court must dismiss a
prisoner's claims, “if the allegation of poverty is
untrue, ” or if the action “is frivolous or
malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal of a
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), and the Court applies the same standard under
Section 1915(e)(2) when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint
or amended complaint.
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a
question of law. See Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of
America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). Dismissal
for failure to state a claim is proper only if it is clear
that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support
of the claim that would entitle him or her to relief. See
Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999). In
making this determination, the Court takes as true all
allegations of material fact stated in the complaint, and the
Court construes them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955,
957 (9th Cir. 1996). Allegations in a pro se
complaint are held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Hughes v. Rowe,
449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam). While the standard
under Rule 12(b)(6) does not require detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiff must provide more than mere labels
and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 1964-1965 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Id., See
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may therefore be
dismissed sua sponte if the prisoner's claims
lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact. This
includes claims based on legal conclusions that are untenable
(e.g. claims against defendants who are immune from
suit or claims of infringement of a legal interest which
clearly does not exist), as well as claims based on fanciful
factual allegations (e.g. fantastic or delusional
scenarios). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
327-28 (1989); see also McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d
795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).
Plaintiff's Claims Under a Theory of Negligence/Products
Nevada, when bringing a strict product liability
failure-to-warn case, the plaintiff carries the burden of
proving, in part, that the inadequate warning caused his
injuries. Sims v. General Telephone &
Electronics, 107 Nev. 516, 524, 815 P.2d 151, 156
(1991), overruled on other grounds by Tucker v. Action
Equip. and Scaffold Co., 113 Nev. 1349, 1356 n. 4, 951
P.2d 1027, 1031 n. 4 (1997), overruled on other grounds
by Richards v. Republic Silver State Disposal, 122 Nev.
1213, 148 P.3d 684 (2006). To successfully prove a
failure-to-warn case, a plaintiff must produce evidence
demonstrating the same elements as in other strict product
liability cases: “(1) the product had a defect which
rendered it unreasonably dangerous, (2) the defect existed at
the time the product left the manufacturer, and (3) the
defect caused the plaintiff's injury.” See
Fyssakis v. Knight Equipment Corp., 108 Nev. 212, 214,
826 P.2d 570, 571 (1992). A product may be found unreasonably
dangerous and defective if the manufacturer failed to provide
an adequate warning. See Yamaha Motor Co. v.
Arnoult, 114 Nev. 233, 238-39, 955 P.2d 661, 665 (1998).
Further, the burden of proving causation can be satisfied in
failure-to-warn cases by demonstrating that a different
warning would have altered the way the plaintiff used the
product or would have “prompted plaintiff to take
precautions to avoid the injury.” See Riley v.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 259 Mont. 128, 856 P.2d
196, 198 (1993). Plaintiff argues that Defendants'
products contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that affects
the heart and nervous system. Because of this, Plaintiff
believes that the products are a “drug” that
warrants warning labels. Defendants allegedly failed to
provide warning labels, and Plaintiff argues that had
Defendants' products been adequately labeled he would not
have consumed as much coffee and suffered the alleged
injuries. Taking the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint
as true, Plaintiff has arguably stated a claim against
Defendants based on products liability.
state a claim for negligence in Nevada, a plaintiff must
establish that: (1) that defendant owed him a duty of care;
(2) that defendant breached this duty of care; (3) that the
breach was the legal cause of plaintiff's injury; and (4)
that the complainant suffered damages. See Hammerstein v.
Jean Dev. W., 907 P.2d 975, 977 (Nev.1995); see also
Doud v. Las Vegas Hilton Corp., 109 Nev. 1096, 1100, 864
P.2d 796, 798 (1993). Plaintiff argues that Defendants had a
duty to warn consumers about the harmful effects of their
products. He asserts that Defendants allegedly breached this
duty and that breach was the cause of ...