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Andrew J.J. Wolf, Jimmy T. v. Brent Reinke

November 1, 2011

ANDREW J.J. WOLF, JIMMY T. GLASS, PATRICK K. KNIGHT, DWAYNE N. BANKS, AND RONALD D. LEWIS,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BRENT REINKE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: U. S. District Judge Honorable Edward J. Lodge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court in ths prisoner civil rights action are the following motions: Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Andrew Wolf as a Plaintiff (Dkt. 66); Plaintiff Wolf's Motion to Consolidate Case with 1:11-cv-00225-CWD (Dkt. 80); Plaintiff Wolf's Motion to Strike Affidavit of Peggy Birch (Dkt. 85); Plaintiff Wolf's Motion to Stay Summary Judgment Proceedings re: Motion to Dismiss Andrew Wolf as a Plaintiff (Dkt. 91); Plaintiff Wolf's Motion for Leave to Conduct Discovery (Dkt. 92); and Plaintiff Wolf's Motion to Correct Clerical Error (Dkt. 94). Having reviewed the record and considered the briefing of the parties, the Court enters the following Order.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS ANDREW WOLF AS PLAINTIFF; PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR STAY AND MOTION FOR DISCOVERY

1. Introduction

In the midst of this multi-plaintiff litigation seeking declaratory and injunctive relief at Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) for allegedly unconstitutional living conditions resulting from overcrowding, Plaintiff Wolf was transferred from ICC to Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). As a result, Defendants filed a "Motion to Dismiss Andrew Wolf as Plaintiff," arguing that Mr. Wolf's claims were moot.

Mr. Wolf has now filed his Response and several supplements to the pending Motion to Dismiss Andrew Wolf as Plaintiff, and the other Plaintiffs have joined Mr. Wolf's Motions. (Dkt. 72, 78, 81, 83.) Defendants have filed their Reply. (Dkt. 88.)

2. Standard of Law

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes the Court to dismiss a complaint or claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. To be justiciable, a plaintiff's claim must not have become moot during the litigation. American Civil Liberties Union v. Lomax, 471 F.3d 1010, 1015 (9th Cir. 2006). "The basic question in determining mootness is whether there is a present controversy as to which effective relief can be granted." Feldman v. Bomar, 518 F.3d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 2008). As a general rule, a prisoner's transfer or release will moot all personal claims for injunctive relief because the prisoner is no longer subject to the allegedly unconstitutional policy. Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 402-03 (1975); Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517, 519 (9th Cir. 1991).

3. Discussion

The Court agrees with Defendants that, under the governing case law, Plaintiff Wolf lacks standing to pursue declaratory and injunctive relief claims at ICC because he is no longer incarcerated there. The Court finds Plaintiff's counter-arguments unpersuasive, for the reasons set forth in Defendants' briefing (other than Defendants' references to class-action status, which has already been denied).

Plaintiff argues that he should be permitted to conduct discovery into the facts and circumstances surrounding his transfer from ICC because he believes that he was transferred to thwart his ability to pursue his claims. However, even if Plaintiff were transferred for the purpose of interfering with this lawsuit rather than for legitimate reasons, the remedy would not be to order the prison to transfer Plaintiff back to ICC, because prisoner placement is a matter of security to be left to prison officials.*fn1 Rather, the remedy would be a claim for declaratory relief or damages. Therefore, Plaintiff's argument of retaliatory transfer is not particularly relevant to the question of mootness of the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief at ICC, but an alleged retaliatory transfer is a separate issue.

While Plaintiff will not be permitted to pursue a retaliatory transfer claim in this action, because of the age of this case and the unrelatedness of a retaliation claim to the pending conditions of confinement claims, he may do so in a separate action if he believes Defendants' "inmate conflict" reason is untrue and was trumped up for the express purpose of mooting his claims.

In any event, Plaintiff Wolf has no further interest in whether the conditions of confinement at ICC are remedied; however, the remaining Plaintiffs in this action continue to have an interest because they remain housed there, and, any remedies won by them will benefit all inmates at ICC.*fn2 For this reason, Plaintiff's other arguments that he should be permitted to pursue the action notwithstanding his current housing assignment are rejected. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion ...


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