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Tanksley v. Avenal State Prison

February 17, 2009

MOODY WOODROW TANKSLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AVENAL STATE PRISON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 13)

I. Screening Order

Plaintiff Moody Woodrow Tanksley ("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 his original complaint onMarch 26, 2008. (Doc. 1.) The Court dismissed his original complaint with leave to amend on January 12, 2009. (Doc. 12.) On February 3, 2009, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff's first amended complaint 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. 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)).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff is currently a state prisoner at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California. Plaintiff was formerly imprisoned at Avenal State Prison ("ASP") in Avenal, California, where the acts he complains of occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants: Avenal State Prison; Correctional officers R. Zavala, K. Mayers, DePaul, K. Estrada, Rapp, Lumia, Gomez, Lieutenant D. Aviles and Sergeant Rhea. Plaintiff also names the officers and medical staff at ASP. Plaintiff's complaint is written in a stream of consciousness manner, and does not stay within the margins, making his complaint difficult to decipher.

Plaintiff appears to allege the following. On March 20, 2008, in Three Yard prison gym, prisoners in Three Yard Gym shower pulled knives on Plaintiff. D. Aviles and the other defendants denied Plaintiff medical treatment and failed to protect Plaintiff because he had filed civil lawsuits. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Though Plaintiff limits his complaint to the three pages of the civil rights complaint form, Plaintiff appears to need more than three pages in order to fully describe his claims. In order to assist the Court in determining whether Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim, Plaintiff should attach with his complaint form additional sheets of paper, listing each defendant and what alleged act or omission by each defendant demonstrates a violation of Plaintiff's federal rights. Allegations that involve only conclusions, such as "Defendant X violated my constitutional rights," are not sufficient. Facts need to be alleged. Plaintiff is not limited solely to the civil rights complaint form, so long as Plaintiff gives "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

C. Plaintiff's Claims

1. Linkage Requirement

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an ...


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