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Brooks v. State

January 9, 2009

WILLIE LEE BROOKS, II, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 2)

I. SCREENING ORDER

Willie Lee Brooks, II ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff originally filed his complaint in the Northern District. It was transferred to the Eastern District on September 14, 2007, and is presently before the Court for screening.

A. Screening Requirement

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. 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)).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff is a state prisoner at Avenal State Prison ("ASP") where the acts he complains of allegedly occurred.

Plaintiff names defendants: the State of California; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Mule Creek State Prison; Avenal State Prison; Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger; California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary, James E. Tilton; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director, William Gausewitz; Warden Lonnie A. Watson; Avenal State Prison Warden, N.D. Dawson; Associate Warden, L. Oacha; Chief Medical Officer, Erica Weinstein; and A. Shahid Muhammad.

Plaintiff states four very general factual allegations that: (1) "A.S.P senior officials" knew, based on information in Plaintiff's C-file, that Plaintiff had a medical ADA restriction for lower bunk placement due to his seizures, and yet "custody staff" placed him in serious danger by placing him on the top of a triple bunk; (2) "custody staff" will not let Plaintiff into the 4-yard clinic, even when he has a medical appointment; (3) "officials" have refused his requests for kosher foods because he is a Black Jew; and (4) his requests to be transferred have been denied.

(Doc. 2, pg. 3.)

Plaintiff seeks relief by way of declaration, injunction, and monetary damages. Plaintiff fails to state any cognizable claims, but may be able to amend to correct deficiencies in his pleading so as to state additional cognizable claims. Thus, he is being given the applicable standards and leave to file a first amended complaint.

C. Pleading Requirements

1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

"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. Pro. 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. Pro. 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. "'The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 755 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004) ("'Pleadings need suffice only to put the opposing party on notice of the claim . . . .'" (quoting Fontana v. Haskin, 262 F.3d 871, 977 (9th Cir. 2001))). 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)).

Plaintiff's factual allegations are not verbose, and while they do give notice of what his claims are, they are generally insufficient to give the defendants fair notice of the factual grounds upon which he asserts them. Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. Further "[a] plaintiff must allege facts, not simply conclusions, that show that an individual was personally involved in the deprivation of his civil rights." Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). Most of Plaintiff's ...


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