United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER AMENDED COMPLAINT [ECFNO. 5-1] AND MOTION TO
SUPPLEMENT AMENDED COMPLAINT [ECF NO. 6]
FERENBACH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court are pro se plaintiff Byron William's
amended complaint (ECF No. 5-1) and motion to supplement
amended complaint (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff Williams does not
allege specific causes of action, but he appears to bring
claims against defendant the Spring Valley Hospital assault
and battery, destruction of evidence, emotional distress, and
racial discrimination. (ECF No. 5-1). In defendant
William's motion to supplement the amended complaint, he
seeks to amend his complaint to add the fact that the date of
the incident was July 21, 2018 at “22:37 PDT.”
Court recommends that this case (referred to herein as
“Williams II”) be dismissed because
plaintiff previously filed a duplicate case in this Court
which is currently pending. See Williams v
Spring Valley Hospital, 2:19-cv-00419-GMN-EJY (referred
to herein as “Williams I”). The Court
orders that plaintiff's motion to supplement his amended
complaint is denied as moot.
initiated his first case, Williams I, on March 12,
2019. Williams I, ECF No. 1. The Court denied his
application to proceed in forma pauperis without prejudice,
and gave him leave to amend, because he did not submit an
application with his first complaint. Williams I,
ECF No. 8 at 3. On August 20, 2019, Williams filed an amended
complaint in Williams I, ECF No. 11. In his amended
complaint, plaintiff alleges that he and his sister were
attacked by doctor(s) and/or nurse(s) while at Spring Valley
Hospital, and that video surveillance footage of the incident
was deleted at the direction of hospital personnel.
Id. at 4. Williams states that the doctor(s) and/or
nurse(s) actions were motivated by racial discrimination.
Id. Plaintiff appears to bring claims for
“hate crimes”, attempted murder, battery,
kidnapping, and related claims. Id. at 3.
Williams I is still an active case and is now
pending before the Court.
initiated the instant action, Williams II, on
September 30, 2019. (ECF No. 1). In Williams's amended
complaint, he alleges that he and his sister were attacked by
doctor(s) and/or nurse(s) while at Spring Valley Hospital,
and that video surveillance footage of the incident was
deleted at the direction of hospital personnel. (ECF No.
5-1). Williams brings claims against the same defendants,
although the case caption in the instant case refers to
specific departments (i.e. “Head Security Team”)
within the Spring Valley Hospital. (Id. at 1).
Williams does not list specific causes of action in
Williams II but based on the facts it appears that
he brings claims for assault and battery, destruction of
evidence, emotional distress, and racial discrimination.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court must screen an IFP
complaint and dismiss the complaint if the court determines
the complaint is frivolous or malicious or fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). “[T]he "first-to-file" rule
(also called the "first-filed" or the "prior
pending action" rule) dictates that, in the absence of
"exceptional circumstances," the later-filed action
should be stayed, transferred or dismissed[ ].”
Colortyme Fin. Servs. v. Kivalina Corp., 940 F.Supp.
269, 272 (D. Haw. 1996), citing to Pacesetter Sys., Inc.
v. Medtronic, Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 94-95 (9th Cir. 1982).
“Dismissal of the duplicative lawsuit, more so than the
issuance of a stay or the enjoinment of proceedings, promotes
judicial economy and the ‘comprehensive disposition of
litigation.'” Adams v. Cal. Dep't of Health
Servs., 487 F.3d 684, 692 (9th Cir. 2007); citing to
Kerotest Mfg. Co. v. C-O-Two Fire Equip. Co., 342
U.S. 180, 184, 72 S.Ct. 219, 221 (1952). “In a
situation such as here, where one district court had
duplicative suits contemporaneously pending on its docket, we
conclude, as did the Supreme Court in an analogous situation,
that "[n]ecessarily, an ample degree of discretion,
appropriate for disciplined and experienced judges, must be
left to the lower court[ ]." Adams, 487 F.3d at
692 citing to Kerotest Mfg. Co., 342 U.S. at 184.
first-filed rule should not be departed from except in cases
of, “rare or extraordinary circumstances, inequitable
conduct, bad faith, or forum shopping.” EEOC v.
Univ. of Pennsylvania, 850 F.2d 969, 972 (3d Cir. 1988).
“The prior pending action doctrine is one of federal
judicial efficiency to avoid placing an unnecessary burden on
the federal judiciary, and to avoid the embarrassment of
conflicting judgments, and provides that where there are two
competing lawsuits, the first suit should have
priority[.]” Curcio v. Hartford Fin. Servs.
Grp., 472 F.Supp.2d 239, 241 (D. Conn. 2007). “A
plaintiff is required to bring at one time all of the claims
against a party or privies relating to the same transaction
or event.” Adams, 487 F.3d at 686.
related legal doctrine, called claim-splitting, is a
"sub-species" of res judicata. MLC Intellectual
Prop., LLC v. Micron Tech., Inc., No. 19-cv-03345-EMC,
2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174870, at 10 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 8, 2019).
The doctrine provides that a party may not split a cause of
action into separate grounds of recovery and raise the
separate grounds in successive lawsuits. In re
PersonalWeb Techs., LLC, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
56804, at 49 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2019). Claim splitting
differs from res judicata because it does not require that
there be a final judgment. Adams at 487 F.3d at 692
(In considering whether a second action is duplicative for
purposes of claim splitting, a court borrows from the test
for res judicata and analyzes, “whether, assuming that
the first suit were already final, the second suit could be
precluded pursuant to claim preclusion”)
“Plaintiffs generally have no right to maintain two
separate actions involving the same subject matter at the
same time in the same court and against the same
defendant." Adams, 487 F.3d at 688.
initiated Williams I in March 12, 2019, several
months before this case, so Williams I is the first
filed case. Williams brings nearly identical claims in both
cases, regarding the exact same incident that allegedly
occurred at Spring Valley Hospital. Pursuant to the first
filed rule, or the prior action pending doctrine, the first
case filed (Williams I) should have priority.
Dismissal of this case is appropriate because dismissal
serves judicial efficiency.
Court also notes that the causes of action and the listed
defendants are not completely identical. For example, in
Williams I, he appears to bring a claim for
kidnapping and his claims are against the Spring Valley
Hospital, but in Williams II, he does not mention
kidnapping and lists the defendants as units of the Spring
Valley Hospital. The facts alleged in each amended complaint,
however, involve the same subject matter. Because the rule
against claim splitting forecloses plaintiff's ability to
bring two separate actions involving the same subject matter
at the same time in the same court against the same
defendants, the Court recommends dismissing this case.
plaintiff may file a motion to amend his complaint in
Williams I. Because the Court recommends that this
case be dismissed, the Court denies ...