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Sly v. Sparkman

April 7, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. He seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 72-302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

This court has repeatedly directed plaintiff to provide the appropriate documentation to support a request for in forma pauperis status pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. See Orders, filed on 8/21/08 and 10/08/08. Plaintiff's responses have not provided the specifically ordered filled-out certificate portion of the IFP form or the prison trust account statement for the relevant six month period, but plaintiff insists that prison officials have stymied his efforts to provide the documents. The court has reviewed plaintiff's filings and will now find that, among the partial responses he has provided, and notwithstanding his largely incoherent contentions regarding prison officials' responses to his efforts to comply with the court's orders, plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has been without funds for six months and is currently without funds. Accordingly, the court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff is obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments shall be collected and forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

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).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007).

"The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1216, pp. 235-235 (3d ed. 2004). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

Plaintiff has submitted a complaint that, along with randomly attached exhibits, is 260 pages in length. On the first page of his complaint, plaintiff names as defendants: Correctional Officer (C/O) Sparkman; Sergeant (Sgt.) M. Keener; Lieutenant (Lt.) J.K. Broddrick. He adds more defendants a page later: Lt. W.A. Sobotta; Lt. G. Martinez; Sgt. Pulley; C/O A. Schwab; LVN L. Vagas; Captain B. Mayfield, seven of the nine of whom, plaintiff claims, are employed at Old Folsom State Prison. Plaintiff alleges that he had four "access" boxes, plus a "T.V.Box," but somehow wound up with three "incomplete" boxes (fruit boxes) in receiving. Complaint, p. 13.

Plaintiff claims that inventory sheets and quarterly package receipts support his claim and that defendants Sparkman, Keener, and Mayfield are responsible for "causing the situation" and for "circumventing my afford [sic] to seek relieve [sic]..." Id. In addition to the incoherence of his allegations contending that unidentified sections of the state penal code and state regulations have been violated, he claims violations of "federal law, even city law." Id. Moreover, in addition to naming as responsible, some of the individuals he has identified as defendants, he also claims that C/O T. Jones, C/O Sanders, Lt. Darnell (not identified as defendants) "and those staff (all) hole [sic] staff" are responsible without explaining how either the named defendants or any of these other individuals have deprived him of a constitutional right. Id.

Plaintiff continues in this fashion, first providing the dates of 12/07/07 through 4/24/08 with no explanation and than asserting that on 12/15/06, C/O Jones apparently kept plaintiff waiting for several hours "to release my [sic] he and his wife was [sic] property room officers." Complaint, p. 14. Plaintiff goes on to state that he only received some undescribed property when a Dr. Gyodcey intervened on his behalf. Id.

Plaintiff goes on to say that his rights to appeal have been violated, claiming that he is attaching "119 pieces of information marked with a blue marker," as well as "178 pieces of information, for a grand total of 297." Id. Plaintiff asks to be paid in full for unspecified items.

Plaintiff's filing wholly violates Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed. R. Civ. P 8 sets forth general rules of pleading in the federal courts. Complaints are required to set a forth (1) the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction rests, (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing entitlement to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief plaintiff seeks. The complaint meets none of these requirements. All that is required are sufficient allegations to put defendants fairly on notice of the claims against them. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957); 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1202 (2d ed. 1990).

In McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 1996), the Ninth Circuit has stated that a complaint should set forth "who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery" (emphasis added)). A complaint that fails to comply with rules 8(a) and 8(e) may be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b). Rule 8; Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins. Co., 651 F.2d 671, 673 (9th Cir. 1981)). Further, "[t]he propriety of dismissal for failure to comply with Rule 8 does not depend on whether the complaint is wholly without merit," McHenry 84 F.3d at 1179. This complaint will be dismissed but plaintiff will be granted leave to amend. In doing so, plaintiff must clearly identify each defendant. Plaintiff may not simply attach exhibits randomly to his complaint expecting the court to ferret out ...

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