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Martinez v. Eddy County Detention Center

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

August 7, 2018

JASON C. MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
EDDY COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter is before the Court, sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, on Plaintiff Jason C. Martinez's “Notice of Civil Rights Violation, False Imprisonment, The Failure To Release A Prisoner On Said Completion Of Time Served Due To Negligence And Poor Records Keeping Of Booking Jail Officers, ” which was removed from the Fifth Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico on March 9, 2018, and Plaintiff's amended complaint, which was filed on April 20, 2018. [Docs. 1 and 15] Also before the Court are Defendant's motion for a more definite statement [Doc. 5], Plaintiff's motion to remand [Doc. 9], Plaintiff's motions to dismiss [Docs. 10 and 19], and Defendant's motion for summary judgment. [Doc. 18] Plaintiff is incarcerated and proceeding pro se. For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's motion to remand will be denied, Defendant's motion for a more definite statement and Plaintiff's first motion to dismiss will be denied as moot, Plaintiff's federal claims will be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), and the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims, which will be remanded to the Fifth Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed his “Notice of Civil Rights Violation, False Imprisonment, The Failure To Release A Prisoner On Said Completion Of Time Served Due To Negligence And Poor Records Keeping Of Booking Jail Officers” in the Fifth Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico (hereinafter referred to as “civil rights complaint”). [Doc. 1-1] Plaintiff's civil rights complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Defendant Eddy County Detention Center for alleged “constitutional civil rights” violations that occurred during his incarceration. [Doc. 1-1 at 3] On March 9, 2018, Defendant removed Plaintiff's civil rights complaint to this Court on the basis of federal-question jurisdiction. [Doc. 1] Defendant subsequently filed a motion for a more definite statement pursuant to rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging that Plaintiff's civil rights complaint failed to apprise Defendant of the dates on which the alleged violations occurred and which violations provided the basis for his claims. [Doc. 5]

         On March 20, 2018, Plaintiff notified the Court that he opposed the removal of his civil rights complaint to federal court, because “the change of jurisdiction and venue makes research and pro se litigations all the more complicated.” [Doc. 6 at 1] Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand this case to state court, alleging that the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction. [Doc. 9]

         On April 11, 2018, Plaintiff moved to dismiss his civil rights complaint without prejudice, because he could not “continue his litigations” due to “unforeseen reasons.” [Doc. 10] United States Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen ordered Defendant to file a response to the motion to dismiss and Defendant informed the Court that it agreed “to the dismissal of claims in the instant litigation . . . with prejudice.” [Doc. 12] Since Plaintiff had requested dismissal of his civil rights complaint without prejudice, and Defendant's response only indicated agreement to a dismissal with prejudice, Magistrate Judge Molzen ordered Defendant to file a supplemental response indicating its position on Plaintiff's motion “insofar as it seeks dismissal WITHOUT PREJUDICE.” [Doc. 13 (emphasis in original)] Defendant promptly filed a response agreeing to a dismissal of Plaintiff's claims without prejudice. [Doc. 14]

         Despite Plaintiff's pending motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed an amended civil rights complaint on April 20, 2018. [Doc. 15] Plaintiff's amended civil rights complaint, like his original complaint, raises federal and state claims based on the conditions of his confinement at the Eddy County Detention Center from 2011 to 2013. [Doc. 15] Specifically, the amended complaint alleges that: (1) Plaintiff was the victim of sexual assault or sexual misconduct committed by Michelle Porter, an employee of Defendant; (2) Plaintiff falsely was imprisoned for four days, in violation of his right to due process of law; (3) Defendant failed to provide an “adequate safety environment” in violation of Plaintiff's right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment; (4) Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff by placing him in “maximum Delta Unit” between 2012 and 2013; and (5) Defendant failed to keep adequate inmate records or to provide sufficient security to inmates. [Doc. 15]

         In an order filed on April 23, 2018, Magistrate Judge Molzen noted the incongruity between Plaintiff's motion to dismiss this case and his subsequent filing of an amended complaint, “which appears to reflect Plaintiff's intention to continue to prosecute this civil rights action.” [Doc. 16] Magistrate Judge Molzen informed Plaintiff that if he wished to proceed with the litigation of this case, then he must withdraw the pending motion to dismiss in accordance with rule 7.7 of the Local Civil Rules of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. [Doc. 16, citing D.N.M.LR-Civ. 7.7] Magistrate Judge Molzen afforded Plaintiff thirty days in which to file a notice of withdrawal of his motion to dismiss in accordance with the Local Civil Rules. [Doc. 16]

         In the meantime, on May 4, 2018, Defendant filed an answer to the amended complaint and a motion for summary judgment. [Docs. 17 and 18] Defendant contends that it is entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff's claims are barred by a settlement agreement between the parties in Martinez v. Funk, et al., 16-CV-00612-KG-LF and the applicable statutes of limitations. [Doc. 18]

         On May 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed a second motion to dismiss without prejudice, stating that he “no longer [wanted to] continue his claim against the County Defendant.” [Doc. 19] Magistrate Judge Molzen noted that, because Defendant had filed a motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff could not dismiss this civil rights action without a court order. [Doc. 20, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)] On May 18, 2018, Defendant filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's second motion to dismiss, explaining that although it had “been previously amenable to a dismissal without prejudice, Plaintiff's filing of an Amended Complaint has changed County Defendant's position.” [Doc. 22] Defendant opposes Plaintiff's second motion to dismiss, because Defendant had to incur the expenses of drafting a motion for summary judgment, which Defendant contends demonstrates its “clear entitlement to a dismissal with prejudice.” [Doc. 21 at 2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court first will address the merits of Plaintiff's motion to remand, because it challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, and then will proceed to screen the merits of Plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         A. Plaintiff's Motion To Remand Will Be Denied

         An action initially brought in a state court may be removed to a federal district court pursuant to the authority set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides, in pertinent part, that:

Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the ...

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