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Wright v. Gonzales

April 30, 2009

RAYMOND WRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GONZALES ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc.32)

I. SCREENING ORDER

Raymond Wright ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 21, 2005. (Doc. 1.) The Court screened and dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend -- finding that, as phrased, it appeared to raise issues more properly brought via a habeas corpus petition. (Doc. 21.) Plaintiff subsequently filed a First Amended Complaint naming one defendant -- Gonzales. (Doc. 23.) The Court screened the First Amended Complaint and issued Findings and Recommendations that the action be dismissed for failure to state a cognizable claim, noting again that Plaintiff's factual allegations in the First Amended Complaint entailed habeas corpus issues -- a factual defense to a charge of attempted escape. (Doc. 26.) Plaintiff filed objections to the Findings and Recommendations indicating that he had claims other than on the habeas issues in the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 27.) The Court vacated the Findings and Recommendations granting Plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint. (Doc. 28.) Subsequently, Plaintiff received an extension of time and filed the Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 32.)

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 Second Amended Complaint

At the time of the issues complained of in his complaint, Plaintiff was a state prisoner at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") in Coalinga, California. Despite being advised, in the Court's Order Vacating the Findings and Recommendations (Doc. 28.), that his pleadings violated Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) by failing to contain a short and plain statement of his claims, Plaintiff's pleadings have drastically ballooned from the First Amended Complaint to the Second Amended Complaint. In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff named one defendant. In his Second Amended Complaint, he now names forty-four defendants. His First Amended Complaint entailed three handwritten pages, whereas his Second Amended Complaint entails fifteen handwritten pages. Screening is obstructed by the fact that Plaintiff submitted a light copy of the Second Amended Complaint, rather than the original document. Thus, numerous letters, and entire words are completely undecipherable.

Plaintiff is incarcerated and is representing himself in this action. Under these circumstances, the Court is generally lenient in overlooking technical and other errors. However, Plaintiff's use of submitting a copy, rather than the original document, writing in uniform sized capital letters, while failing to use adequate spacing between words, punctuation, indentation, and double spacing between lines renders the Second Amended Complaint virtually illegible. Plaintiff is required to submit filings that are "clearly legible." Local Rule 7-130(b). In submitting a third amended complaint in compliance with this order, Plaintiff should: (1) differentiate the size of his writing for proper names and at the beginning of sentences; (2) use punctuation and indentation; (3) leave a space between each word; and (4) double space his sentences. Local Rule 7-130(c). The failure to submit a legible third amended complaint will result in an order striking it from the record.

Due to the presentation of the Second Amended Complaint, the Court is unable to discern whether Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim, and/or may be able to amend to correct deficiencies in his pleading so as to state any cognizable claims. The Court is not willing to expend it's limited resources to undertake the herculean task of attempting to analyze the factual allegations that Plaintiff has chosen to present in such an illegible fashion. Plaintiff is warned that this is his final opportunity to perfect his claims. The Court is providing Plaintiff with what appear to possibly be the applicable standards based on screening of his prior pleadings and hints of claims the Court has attempted to extract from the Second 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 Second Amended Complaint does not comply with Rule 8(a) as it fails to give each Defendant a short and plain statement as to Plaintiff's claims and factual basis against each of them. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Neither the Court, nor any Defendant(s), should have to bear the burden of attempting to decipher, and then ferreting through, Plaintiff's factual ...


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