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Johnson v. San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 25, 2007

ANTHONY RASHAD JOHNSON CDC #F-39513, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN DIEGO METROPOLITAN TRANSIT SYSTEM; SAN DIEGO TROLLEY, INC., AND A. CAMPBELL, CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cathy Ann Bencivengo United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER:

1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION "FOR CHANGE OF ENTITY IN COMPLAINT" [Doc. # 41]; AND

2) DIRECTING U.S. MARSHAL TO EFFECT SERVICE OF FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Anthony Rashad Johnson ("Plaintiff" or "Johnson"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his civil rights. Plaintiff filed a "Motion for Request of Change of Entity in Complaint." [Doc. # 41]. The Court construes the motion as a motion to amend the Third Amended Complaint and to effect service. The motion is GRANTED.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has a history of several unsuccessful attempts to name and serve proper Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that a security officer at a San Diego trolley station handcuffed him and applied excessive force. This action is brought against the officer and the employer entity. Johnson originally instructed the U.S. Marshal to serve the entity Defendant named as "San Diego Metropolitan Trolley Service." The summons was returned unexecuted, because "San Diego Metropolitan Trolley Service" was not the correct name. Plaintiff then moved to amend the Complaint to change the name of the Defendant to "MTS." [Doc. # 29]. Because "MTS" did not appear to be a proper name, the Court denied the motion without prejudice. [Doc. # 30].

Next, Plaintiff sought to change Defendant's name to "San Diego Metropolitan Transit System." [Doc. # 32]. The motion was granted. [Doc. # 33]. Plaintiff was ordered to file a Third Amended Complaint naming "San Diego Metropolitan Transit System" and "A. Campbell, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, Employee" as Defendants. The Third Amended Complaint naming Defendants as ordered was filed on July 13, 2007. [Doc. # 34]. Also on July 13, 2007, the summons was issued.

The docket reflects four unexecuted returns of service attempted since July 13, 2007. [Doc. ## 36-39]. The forms named Defendants as "San Diego Metropolitan Trolley System" instead of "San Diego Metropolitan Transit System," and "Employee Officer A. Campbell." With respect to the Defendant named as "San Diego Metropolitan Trolley System," service was not effected because Plaintiff did not state the correct name. With respect to the individual Defendant, the service was not effected because "the attorney/Legal Unit for MTA would not accept [service] on behalf of an individual officer." [Doc. # 36].

In his present motion, Plaintiff requests that "the entity of the defendants be changed to its proper title." (Pl.'s Mot., 1:20-21). Plaintiff submitted a proposed Fourth Amended Complaint which names Defendants as "Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego Trolley, Inc.," and "Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego Trolley, Inc. employee A. Campbell, Code Compliance Officer."

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff is hereby given another opportunity to serve his Fourth Amended Complaint. Pro se litigants generally deserve leniency in their compliance with the technical rules of civil procedure. See Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924 (9th Cir. 1986). Moreover, public policy favors resolution of claims on the merits, especially in civil rights cases. See Hernandez v. City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 393, 401 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).

The Court notes, however, that the part of the caption listing Defendants' names has no commas separating the names "Metropolitan Transit System" and "San Diego Trolley, Inc.," which are two different entities. Johnson asserts that San Diego Trolley, Inc. is a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transit System. Plaintiff is reminded that despite the alleged relationship between these entities, he needs to treat and serve them as separate Defendants. Finally, noting that the service for Officer A. Campbell was not accepted by the legal unit of the "MTA," Plaintiff would be well-advised to review the rules for service on individuals as opposed to entities.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

1. The Fourth Amended Complaint, attached to the present motion, is accepted for filing. The Clerk shall issue a summons for Defendants, provide Plaintiff with a certified copy of both this Order and his Fourth Amended Complaint, and forward them to Plaintiff along with a blank U.S. Marshal Form 285 for each of these Defendants. Plaintiff shall complete the Forms 285 and forward them to the U.S. Marshal. Plaintiff is reminded that he must fill out the necessary forms with care, using Defendants' correct names.*fn1 The U.S. Marshal shall, after receiving Plaintiff's completed Forms 285, serve a copy of the Fourth Amended Complaint, any exhibits and summons upon Defendants as directed by Plaintiff on each Form 285. All costs of service shall be advanced by the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2).

2. Plaintiff shall serve upon Defendants or, if appearance has been entered by counsel, upon Defendants' counsel, a copy of every further pleading or other document submitted for consideration of the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the original paper to be filed with the Clerk of the Court a certificate stating the manner in which a true and correct copy of any document was served on Defendants, or counsel for Defendants, and the date of service.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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