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Smith v. Canu

August 5, 2009

LEONARD CURTIS SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CANU, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF ACTION, WITH PREJUDICE, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UNDER SECTION 1983 (DOC. 29) OBJECTION DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Second Amended Complaint

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Leonard Curtis Smith ("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 this action on November 8, 2004, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division. The case was transferred to this Court and received on December 2, 2004. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend for failure to state a claim on April 10, 2006. Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on July 24, 2006. The Court dismissed the first amended complaint with leave to amend on April 29, 2008. The Court granted Plaintiff's motions to extend time to file the second amended complaint on May 29, 2008 and on June 27, 2008. Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on July 16, 2008.

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)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff's second amended complaint is 99 pages long, largely incoherent, unorganized, and nearly impossible to decipher. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated his First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff also alleges that this is a class action on behalf of a large number of plaintiffs. However, instead of alleging specific facts to support his claims, Plaintiff chose to fill his complaint with legal jargon, citations and arguments which do not support his claims. In addition, Plaintiff's complaint appears to contain numerous and unrelated claims against a number of defendants at several different facilities.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants deprived him of his personal property for four months, violated the Equal Protection Clause and the Eighth Amendment by denying him a classification review, violated the First and the Fourth Amendment by inspecting his outgoing legal mail, and violated due process by refusing him marital privacy, procreative liberty, and classification review.

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

Pursuant to Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." 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). "A plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). A complaint must contain "[sufficient] [f]actual allegations...to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Id. at 1965 (internal citations omitted). Plaintiff's 99 page complaint is not a short and plain statement of Plaintiff's claim, nor does it contain sufficient facts to state potential claims. Plaintiff's second amended complaint fails to comply with Rule 8(a), despite explicit instructions in the Court's previous screening order filed April 29, 2008.

C. Federal Rule of Civil Procedures 18

The April 28, 2008, screening order cautioned Plaintiff against stating multiple unrelated claims against multiple defendants. Plaintiff has already been advised that "unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits...." George v. Smith, 507 F. 3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff's second amended complaint contains ...


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