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Hennagan v. Frank

November 12, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 5).

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a ". . . short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.


Plaintiff names the following as defendants: Frank, Ryan, Wilson, Porter, Stern, Pfaff, Reysner, Baginski, and Oleachea. Plaintiff states that this is an action "against the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and their agents." He also states that this action proceeds on his behalf and on behalf of his daughter "Charlotte R," a minor born on June 18, 1992. Plaintiff claims that "defendants have knowingly, willingly, and maliciously denied them 'due process of law' and 'equal protection under the law' by enforcing a different rule relative to Plaintiffs' attempts to practice the religious teaching of the religious organization known world-wide as Jehovah's Witnesses of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York." He states that he "brings this action on behalf of himself and his minor child, contending that the defendants have collectively subjected his minor child to unnecessary, wonton, malicious, sadistic psychological distress causing irreparable injury to both Plaintiff Hennagan and Plaintiff Charlotte R."

Plaintiff alleges the following facts:

1. Charlotte R. was declared a dependent of the Sacramento County Superior Court on October 24, 2006, based on allegations, which plaintiff admits were found to be true, that he committed lewd and lascivious acts upon her;

2. Charlotte R. was committed to the custody and care of DHHS;

3. Plaintiff was permitted "supervised letter contact" with Charlotte R., with letters to be reviewed by a social worker or therapist and, if appropriate, forwarded to the child;

4. On August 10, 2006, Charlotte R. wrote a letter which stated:

I wish you knew how much I long to hear your voice over the telephone or for that matter hear your voice period. These were and are the only joys of my life, for through them I am able to complete each hour, day and even second. Unfortunately, the long period between our contact are full of silence. These are dark and desperate times filled with loneliness because of my long separation from you. During these periods, my heart rests blankly with hope that, once again and very soon, I will be hearing your voice. This is what makes me want my life to go on.

It seem though I have not heard from you in ages.

Each day that passes is becoming more difficult and longer to bear. If I don't hear from you soon, I don't think there's going to be any more me. Over and over again I say to myself if I hadn't asked for that stupid phone neither one of us would be in this situation. Our failure to keep in contact is hurting me.

I will always love you know matter how far apart we are. With a whole lot of love, Charlotte. P.S. I did not forget ...

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