United States District Court, D. Hawaii
Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.
October 25, 2019, pro se Plaintiff Thomas Lauro commenced
this prisoner civil rights action with the stated intent to
“reopen” or “refile” claims that he
had raised in Lauro v. Dep't of Public Safety,
Civ. No. 12-00637 DKW-RT (D. Haw.) (“Lauro I”).
FAC, ECF No. 4 at 26 (Request for Relief).
November 20, 2019, after carefully comparing the operative
complaints and records in the present action with those in
Lauro I, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause in writing
on or before December 20, 2019, why this action should not be
dismissed as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. See
Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 8. The Court warned Plaintiff
that if he failed to file a timely response, this action
would be dismissed.
deadline to show good cause why this action should not be
dismissed has expired, and Plaintiff has not responded to the
Order to Show Cause. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED
with prejudice as barred by the doctrine of res judicata. All
pending motions are DENIED as moot.
doctrine of res judicata, also known as claim preclusion,
provides that “a final judgment on the merits bars
further claims by parties or their privies based on the same
cause of action.” Headwaters Inc. v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 399 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting
In re Schimmels, 127 F.3d 875, 881 (9th Cir. 1997)).
Three elements are necessary to establish res judicata:
“(1) an identity of claims, (2) a final judgment on the
merits, and (3) privity between parties.” Id.
at 1052 (quoting Tahoe-Sierra Pres. Council, Inc. v.
Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency, 322 F.3d 1064, 1077
(9th Cir. 2003)). Claim preclusion “‘bars all
grounds for recovery which could have been asserted, whether
they were or not, in a prior suit between the same parties .
. . on the same cause of action.'” Costantini
v. Trans World Airlines, 681 F.2d 1199, 1201 (9th Cir.
1982) (quoting Ross v. IBEW, 634 F.2d 453, 457 (9th
a court is on notice that it has previously decided the issue
presented, the court may dismiss the action sua sponte, even
though the defense has not been raised, ” Arizona
v. California, 530 U.S. 392, 416 (2000), provided that
the parties have an opportunity to be heard prior to
dismissal. Headwaters, Inc., 399 F.3d at 1055-56 (“[A]
court may, sua sponte, dismiss a case on preclusion grounds
‘where the records of that court show that a previous
action covering the same subject matter and parties had been
dismissed.'”) (quoting Evarts v. W. Metal
Finishing Co., 253 F.2d 637, 639 n. 1 (9th Cir. 1958)).
Lauro I, Plaintiff alleged that the State of Hawaii, its
Department of Public Safety (“DPS”), Halawa and
Waiawa Correctional Facilities (“HCF” and
“WCF, ” respectively), Sisar Paderes, M.D., Gary
Saldana, M.D., Steven DeWitt, M.D., and Doe Defendants 1-100
denied him adequate medical care during his incarceration at
HCF and WCF, in 2011 and 2012, in violation of state and
federal law. See Lauro I, Civ. No. 12-00637, Am.
Compl., ECF No. 114.
was dismissed with prejudice on December 3, 2015 for
Plaintiff's willful and repeated failure to cooperate
with his counsel or to comply with court orders. See Lauro I,
Order Dismissing Case, ECF No. 321. Before reaching this
decision, the Court carefully considered the factors set
forth in In re Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Products
Liability Litigation, 460 F.3d 1217, 1226 (9th Cir.
2006), determined that Plaintiff's conduct had
“impeded the orderly administration of justice, ”
and concluded that dismissal was warranted pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). Id. at 4103.
attorney timely appealed, ECF No. 324, and he was thereafter
allowed to withdraw from the case. See Lauro v.
State, App. No. 15-17457 (9th Cir.), Dkt. 9. The Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals then notified Plaintiff/Appellant
that he was representing himself on appeal. Id. On
May 5, 2016, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for
Plaintiff/Appellant's failure to file an opening brief or
move for an extension of time to do so. See Lauro I, ECF No.
341 (appellate mandate).
three years later, Plaintiff, who had been released on parole
before Lauro I was dismissed,  was arrested on a parole
violation and again placed in DPS custody, where he remains.
See id., ECF No. 344 (Pl.'s letter, dated August
13, 2019). Plaintiff then began attempting to reopen Lauro I
by filing a series of letters, declarations, and motions. See
id., ECF Nos. 343; 344; 347-349; 352; and 354. The
Court informed Plaintiff that it would take no further action
in this long-closed case, but advised him that, if he was
challenging the conditions of his present confinement or the
revocation of his parole, he should file a civil rights
complaint or a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See
Entering Orders, ECF Nos. 346, 353, 355. Despite this clear
direction, Plaintiff instead filed a Motion for Relief from
Judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60, alleging a fraud on
the state circuit court as the basis for such relief. On
December 4, 2019, the Court denied Plaintiff's Motion.
See ECF No. 357.
Plaintiff was attempting to reopen Lauro I, he commenced the
present suit, in which Plaintiff names the same
Defendants and alleges substantially identical
claims, as alleged in Lauro I. In support of this suit,
Plaintiff repeatedly refers to the operative complaint and
declarations filed in Lauro I. See FAC, ECF No. 4 at 23-26.
Notwithstanding the Court's directions explaining that he
cannot reopen Lauro I or reassert the claims therein,
Plaintiff asserts that filing the instant suit is proper
because his “[d]amages are well documented and ongoing.
(Continuing Wrong) Almost 9 years.” Id. at 23.
In other words, Plaintiff claims that, because
Defendants' past alleged misconduct that formed the basis
of Lauro I continues to damage him, this new action is
proper. In res judicata terms, however, this shows that there
is privity of the parties and identity of claims when
comparing Lauro I and the present suit.
preclusion prohibits a party from bringing the same claims
against the same parties a second time in a new lawsuit if
the former suit was dismissed on its merits. Headwaters,
Inc., 399 F.3d at 1051. Lauro I was dismissed for
Plaintiff's failure to comply with court orders pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). Rule 41(b) states that “[u]nless
the court in its order for dismissal otherwise specifies, a
dismissal . . . other than a dismissal for lack of
jurisdiction, for improper venue, or for failure to join a
party under Rule 19, operates as an adjudication upon the
merits.” The stated exceptions do not apply to the
dismissal in Lauro I. See Stewart ...