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Morris v. Long

April 17, 2009

ROBERT MORRIS AND MICHELLE MORRIS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICERS CHRISTOPHER LONG, JEREMY DEMOSS, AND DETECTIVE BRENDAN RHAMES, DEFENDANTS.



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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOLLOWING SCREENING OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs Robert Morris and Michelle Morris ("Plaintiffs"), appearing pro se and proceeding in forma pauperis, filed a second amended complaint on March 18, 2009. Plaintiffs allege excessive force, false arrest and imprisonment, a violation of equal protection rights, defamation, and a violation of due process of law. Plaintiffs name Fresno Police Department Officers Christopher Long and Officer Jeremy DeMoss, and Detective Brendan Rhames as Defendants.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard

In light of the second amended complaint, and pursuant to Title 28 of the United States Code Section 1915(e)(2), the court has reviewed the complaint for sufficiency to state a claim.

The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the court determines that the action is legally "frivolous or malicious," fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question (Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hospital, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976)), construe the pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000)), and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor (Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969)).

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)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984).

B. Plaintiffs' Allegations

Plaintiffs Robert and Michelle Morris bring this action against Fresno Police Department Officers Christopher Long and Jeremy DeMoss, and Detective Rhames.

Plaintiffs' allegations arise from an incident that occurred on October 28, 2007, wherein Plaintiffs were awaiting law enforcement assistance for a purported assault and robbery committed by unidentified third persons; however, the response ultimately resulted in Plaintiff Robert Morris's arrest for driving under the influence.

Plaintiff Robert Morris seeks reimbursement for medical costs incurred as a result of Officer Long's actions, and unlimited damages for compensation for pain and suffering, and for the loss of his career as a floor covering installer due to permanent injury. He also seeks punitive damages for the violations of his civil rights. Plaintiff Michelle Morris seeks reimbursement of $500.00 for the loss of her boxer puppy and punitive damages for the civil rights violations in an unlimited amount.

C. The Federal & State Claims

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 action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. To state a section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must plead that (1) defendant acted under color of state law at the time the complained of act was committed, and (2) defendant deprived plaintiff of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the ...


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