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GRAY v. WOODFORD

United States District Court, S.D. California


November 17, 2005.

RICKY GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
JEANNE S. WOODFORD, et al., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEO PAPAS, Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT (10-1)
On June 23, 2005, Plaintiff Ricky Gray (hereafter "Plaintiff"), filed a Third Amended Complaint (hereafter "TAC") for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereafter "§ 1983') against Defendants Jeanne Woodford, J.P. Giurbino, R. Zaragoza, G. Gonzalez, J.P. Gonzalez, C. Cook, D.J. Degeus, D. Dexter, Joe Doe, P.W. Dougherty, G.H. Gonzalez, N. Grannis, Jesse, Gruillen, J.S. Hill, C. Hudson, M.G. Loera, M. Maldonado, M. Master, D.S.P. Sidha, J.D. Stokes, R. Gibson, N.S. Rodriguez, A.V. Trevino, E. Vargas, Ben Eason, C.L. Parks, J.F. Salazar and T. Willis (hereafter "Defendants") in the United States District Court Central District of California. On July 13, 2005, the Central District of California transferred the case to this Court. On September 16, 2005, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's TAC and for a More Definite Statement.*fn1 Plaintiff has not filed an Opposition to Defendants' Motion.

The Court, having reviewed Defendants' Motion, the TAC, the record in this case, and GOOD CAUSE APPEARING, HEREBY RECOMMENDS:

1. Plaintiff's TAC
  Plaintiff's 32-page TAC*fn2 sets forth numerous disorganized miscellaneous allegations regarding his incarceration at Centinela State Prison. These allegations include the following: violations of "director's rules," denial of his grievances and appeals for numerous pretextual reasons, seizure of his personal property, retaliation for filing grievances and appeals, searches and seizures of property of black inmates,*fn3 handcuffing procedures, procedures to provide inmates in Administrative Segregation with law library materials, reassignment of his job duties, curtailment of visits and received packages during a lockdown of black inmates, the composition of the prison population containing primarily hispanic inmates and too few black staff members, lack of impartiality in validation of gang involvement, special treatment afforded hispanic inmates receiving packages and canteen purchases during prison lockdowns, not having a black inmate Men's Advisory Committee representative, the length of time inmates are held in Administrative Segregation, failure to reprimand prison staff who fail to follow prison procedures, and corruption of prison staff. Many of the allegations in the TAC do not appear to pertain to Plaintiff personally, or do not appear to be actionable under § 1983.

  2. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

  Defendants argue that Plaintiff's TAC should be dismissed.

  A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. (hereafter "FRCP") 12 (b) (6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in the complaint. A claim can only be dismissed if it "appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1974). The court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, and must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. N.L. Industries, Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986); Parks School of Business, Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995); Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 973 (9th Cir. 2004) ("[U]nder Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b) (6), [the Court must] accept[] all facts alleged in the complaint as true and construing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,") (citing Karam v. City of Burbank, 352 F.3d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003).

  The court looks not at whether the plaintiff will "ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). Dismissal is not warranted unless it "appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46.

  A complaint is subject to dismissal if "one cannot determine from the complaint who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery." McHenry v. Renne 84 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 1996)

  Where a plaintiff appears in propria persona in a civil rights case, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford the plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). The rule of liberal construction is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992). In giving liberal interpretation to a pro se civil rights complaint, however, the court may not "supply essential elements of claims that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). "Vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss." Id.; see also Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984) (conclusory allegations unsupported by facts are insufficient to state a claim under § 1983). "The plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's claim." Jones, 733 F.2d at 649 (internal quotation omitted).

  Nevertheless, the court must give a pro se litigant leave to amend his complaint unless it is "absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment." Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1447 (9th Cir. 1987). Thus, before a pro se civil rights complaint may be dismissed, the court must provide the plaintiff with a statement of the complaint's deficiencies. Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 623-24.

  In this case, Plaintiff's 32-page TAC*fn4 contains numerous, scattered miscellaneous allegations regarding events that transpired at Centinela State Prison. The TAC is not logically organized. Prior to Plaintiff's allegations, Plaintiff indicates that he brings a claim for "First Amendment right to seek redress as reading material as religious, denial of equal protection under the Law, retaliation for seeking redress, discriminatory practice as cited under California directors rules, as cruel and unusual punishment due process violations under director's rules of 3337 (a) (b) (c), violation of Liberty interest." (TAC at 11) However, from the numerous miscellaneous disorganized allegations contained in the TAC, the Court is unable to ascertain which allegations pertain to which claims, nor to whom the allegations and claims are directed. Nevertheless, it appears that Plaintiff may be able to allege, and possibly prove, facts in support of his claims. Therefore, the Court RECOMMENDS that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED and Plaintiff be given leave to amend his TAC. The Court further RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff be advised that his amended complaint shall separately state each alleged violation of § 1983, the facts supporting each alleged violation, and which Defendant(s) committed the alleged violation.

  3. Defendants' Motion for More Definite Statement

  Defendants argue that Plaintiff should be ordered to provide a more definite statement regarding his claims and allegations under FRCP 8 and 10. FRCP 8 states in pertinent part:

(a) A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief . . . shall contain . . .
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . .
(e) Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise and direct . . ."
FRCP 10 states in pertinent part:
. . .
(b) All averments of a claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs, the contents of each of which shall be limited as far as practicable to a statement of a single set of circumstances.
  A plaintiff's claims must be set forth in short and plain terms simply, concisely and directly. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002) ["Rule 8(a) is a starting point of a simplified pleading system, which was adopted to focus on the merits of a claim."] "A complaint should not contain preambles, introductions, argument, speeches, explanations, stories, griping, summaries and the like." McHenry 84 F.3d at 1178.

  Plaintiff's TAC does not meet the standards set forth in FRCP 8 and 10 and case law regarding pleading a complaint. The TAC does not contain a short and plain statement of Plaintiff's claims, nor are the averments in the TAC simple, concise and direct. Instead, the TAC consists of numerous lengthy, scattered, disorganized and miscellaneous allegations and commentary on the conditions of his, and other inmates', confinement at Centinela State Prison. The TAC is unclear as to which allegations pertain to which claims, and to whom the allegations and claims are directed. Therefore, the Court and Defendants cannot be sure of the exact nature of the claims being asserted by Plaintiff. As a result, the Court RECOMMENDS that Defendants' Motion for a More Definite Statement be GRANTED and that Plaintiff be ordered to file a Fourth Amended Complaint in conformity with FRCP 8 and 10, and case law as noted herein. The Court further RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff be advised that his amended complaint shall separately state each alleged violation of § 1983, the facts supporting each alleged violation, and which Defendant(s) committed the alleged violation.

  CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

  After a review of the record in this matter, the undersigned Magistrate Judge recommends that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint and for More Definite Statement be GRANTED.

  This report and recommendation of the undersigned Magistrate Judge is submitted to the United States District Judge assigned to this case, pursuant to the provision of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

  IT IS ORDERED that no later than December 19, 2005, any party to this action may file written objections with the Court and serve a copy on all parties. The document should be captioned "Objections to Report and Recommendation."

  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that any reply to the objections shall be filed with the Court and served on all parties no later than January 3, 2006. The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to raise those objections on appeal of the Court's order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991).

20051117

© 1992-2005 VersusLaw Inc.



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