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Exmundo v. Tilton

January 28, 2009


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


(Doc. 19)


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Emelito Exmundo ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on February 23, 2006. On April 20, 2007, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's first amended complaint ("the complaint"), filed June 28, 2007.

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).

"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)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of the Complaint

Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison. Plaintiff's claims arise out of various incidents that occurred at California State Prison, Corcoran (CSP) between 2004 and 2007, many of which appear to be unrelated to each other. The complaint asserts a plethora of constitutional and state-law tort claims against at least twenty-six Defendants. Plaintiff alleges numerous separate incidents of excessive force, mail censorship, retaliation for filing prison grievances, interference with Plaintiff's access to the courts, inadequate medical treatment, and denial of due process. The complaint is accompanied by two-hundred sixty-nine pages of exhibits.

B. Permissive Joinder of Defendants

A plaintiff may join as many claims as the plaintiff has against an opposing party in a single action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). A plaintiff may also join several persons as defendants in a single action if a) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences, and b) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) (emphasis added). "Thus, multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits...." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 606 (7th Cir. 2007).

"A buckshot complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free person--say, a suit complaining that A defrauded the plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to pay a debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different transactions--should be rejected if filed by a prisoner." Id. at 607.

The complaint asserts numerous causes of action that do not appear to be related to each other in any significant way. For example, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Moore failed to protect Plaintiff from an attack by other prisoners in August of 2004, that Defendant Castro improperly forced Plaintiff to cut his hair in July of 2005, that Defendant Hasadsri denied Plaintiff adequate medical care in October of 2005, and that Defendant Vogel subjected Plaintiff to excessive force in May of 2006. Plaintiff has failed to establish that the various actions of the twenty-six named Defendants were part of a single transaction or occurrence or that questions of law or fact common to all Defendants will arise in this action. Accordingly, joinder of Plaintiff's various claims is inappropriate, and the complaint must be dismissed.*fn1 See George, 507 F.3d at 606 (holding that prisoner's complaint should have been rejected ...

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