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Fordjour v. Director of CDCR

January 8, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Amended Complaint

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Charles Fordjour ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed on December 31, 2008.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. Id. at 514. However, "the liberal pleading standard... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Claim Raised in Amended Complaint

Plaintiff filed this action on December 3, 2007, at which time he was an inmate at Avenal State Prison ("Avenal"). In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he had been transferred to Avenal from San Quentin State Prison on July 11, 2007, and that from that date to the present, staff members had been trying to kill him.*fn1 Plaintiff also alleged that his due process rights were violated at Avenal in conjunction with a disciplinary hearing at which good time credits were revoked, and he was assessed extra duty hours and placed on C status. On March 20, 2008, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to amend, for failure to state any claims upon which relief may be granted. After obtaining multiple extensions of time, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 31, 2008.*fn2

A. Improper Venue

Plaintiff's amended complaint raises for the first time claims against the Pinole and El Cerrito Police Departments arising from his arrest and detention, and against various staff members at San Quentin State Prison arising from the conditions of his confinement at that prison. Venue for those claims is proper in the Northern District of California and Plaintiff may not pursue them in this action, which was originally filed based on events occurring at Avenal. The Court recommends dismissal of these claims, without prejudice, based on improper venue. See Costlow v. Weeks, 790 F.2d 1486, 1488 (9th Cir. 1986) (court may raise defective venue sua sponte); see also Davis v. Mason County, 927 F.2d 1473, 1479 (9th Cir. 1991) (courts have broad discretion regarding severance).

B. Claims Arising from Failure to Provide Gate Money

In addition to the new claims based on events not occurring in this jurisdiction, Plaintiff alleges a new due process claim against prison officials at Avenal for failing to provided him with his $200.00 in gate money when he was released from the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on January 13, 2004, and again on April 15, 2008.*fn3 (Doc. 25, pp. 14-15.)

1. Claim Accruing on January 13, 2004

Federal law determines when a claim accrues, and "[u]nder federal law, a claim accrues when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of the action." Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 955 (9th Cir. 2004); Fink v. Shedler, 192 F.3d 911, 914 (9th Cir. 1999). Because section 1983 contains no specific statute of limitation, federal courts should apply the forum state's statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 927 (2004); Maldonado, 370 F.3d at 954; Fink, 192 F.3d at 914. For claims accruing on or after January 1, ...

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