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Quezada v. Gricewich

April 30, 2009

ALVARO QUEZADA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GRICEWICH, 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. 26)

I. SCREENING ORDER

Alvaro Quezada ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff filed the Complaint on August 18, 2006. (Doc. 1.) On October 16, 2006, prior to screening, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8.) On March 21, 2008, the Court screened the First Amended Complaint and dismissed it with leave to amend. (Doc. 18.) Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint on November 17, 2008. (Doc. 26.)

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

Plaintiff is a state prisoner at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP") in Delano, California -- where the acts he complains of allegedly took place.

Plaintiff now names eighteen defendants: Wardens A. Hedgpeth, Roy A. Castro, Chris Chrones, and Mike Knowles; Captains J.D. Soto and R. Fisher; Associate Wardens of Housing John Doe and N. Dill, Jr.; Acting Captains B. Gricewich, John Doe Ma (ot), and John Doe Km (ot); Sergeants J. Tripp, Doria, and Jose; Ombudsman Duncan Fallon; Chief Inmate Appeals Coordinator N. Grannis; and Correctional Officers Ortiz and Scott. Plaintiff seeks monetary and declaratory relief.

Plaintiff alleges that he was retaliated against for his active role as an IAC Rep. wherein he pro-actively filed 602s, staff complaints, and numerous "missives" to prison administrators attempting to cure prison injustices and to bring about pro-social programs. Plaintiff alleges that, the inmate appeals process at KVSP was little more than a farce with prison personnel throwing away 602 appeals as retaliation against the inmates that filed them. Plaintiff persisted in filing inmate appeals, staff complaints, and numerous missives, and as a result, alleges he was retaliated against by being affiliated to a gang, which caused Plaintiff to be placed in segregation with those gang members and subjected to an eight month long lock down while an investigation of that gang was conducted.

Screening the Second Amended Complaint is extremely difficult. Plaintiff's allegations have ballooned with each amendment to the complaint. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint covers forty-four pages of rambling narrative, which comprise one hundred ninety-seven (197) paragraphs of factual allegations. Plaintiff follows his factual allegations by delineating two claims for relief under which he alleges that all of the defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of his factual allegations in both of his claims for relief and generically charges all defendants with violating his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments without specifying which actions by any individual defendant constituted a violation of any of his specific rights. It is Plaintiff's duty to correlate his claims for relief against each defendant with their alleged factual basis. The Court will not expend its limited resources to do no better than guess as to which facts Plaintiff believes show any given constitutional violation(s). Screening of the Second Amended Complaint is further complicated by the fact that Plaintiff assigns a number to each Defendant at the beginning of his allegations, and thereafter only refers to the Defendants by number rather than their Surname -- necessitating reference back to the Defendants and their assigned numbers throughout almost every sentence of the allegations in order to ascertain which Defendant Plaintiff is alleging engaged in any given action/inaction.

The Court provides Plaintiff with the following law that appears to apply to his delineated claims for relief and leave to file a third amended complaint. Plaintiff is advised that this is the last time he will be given leave to file an amended complaint, so he should do his very best to organize it in an understandable fashion and to comply with all of the law stated herein. Plaintiff is further advised that only the claims in his Third Amended Complaint that are found cognizable will be allowed to proceed. Any claims in Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint that are not cognizable will likely be dismissed and count as strikes under Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).

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. Neither the Court, nor any Defendants, should have to bear the burden of ferreting through Plaintiff's factual allegations to attempt to ascertain which factual allegations Plaintiff relies on as the basis for any of his claims for relief.

2. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a)

"The controlling principle appears in Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a) 'A party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party.' 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, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

Plaintiff is advised that if he chooses to file a third amended complaint, and fails to comply with Rule 18(a), the Court will count all frivolous/non-cognizable unrelated claims that are dismissed therein as strikes such that he may be barred from filing in forma pauperis in the future.

3. Linkage Requirement

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was ...


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