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Pruitt v. Clark

December 14, 2009

WILLIAM B. PRUITT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

I. SCREENING ORDER

Plaintiff, William V. Pruitt, ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner who is currently proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his Complaint on November 26, 2007. (Doc. 1.)

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).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff complains of acts that occurred while he was an inmate at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison ("SATF") in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants in this action: Warden Ken Clark; Michael Fisher; Sergeant K. Curtiss; Assistant Warden T. Wan; Correctional Officers Swimford, Bonilla, and Laura Work; Lieutenant Watkins; Appeals Coordinator R. Hall; and Director's Examiner J. Burleson. Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

Plaintiff alleges that in the "work change" area, prisoners returning to the facility would be required initially to strip to their boxer shorts. Once their removed clothing was searched, prisoners were to move to the other side of the counter, remove their boxer shorts, turn around, bend over, and cough for a visual body cavity search. Plaintiff alleges that, beginning on February 27, 2007, there were three female officers (C/O's Swimford, Bonilla, and Daura) and one unknown male officer working in "B" Facility "work change." Plaintiff alleges that on that day C/O's Swimford and Daura were conducting the unclothed bodily inspection of male inmates -- including Plaintiff. Despite writing a letter of complaint to the Warden and being directed to pursue the issue through the inmate 602 appeals process (which Plaintiff did), this condition was allowed to continue. Plaintiff alleges that these circumstances violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and took place as part of a conspiracy.

Plaintiff has stated some claims and may be able to amend to correct the deficiencies in his pleading so as to state additional cognizable claims. Thus, he is being given the applicable standards and leave to file a first 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. 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." Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982) accord Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997).

"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). 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).

Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, accord Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Iqbal. at 1949; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, ___ F.3d ___, 2009 WL 2052985, *6, (9th Cir. 2009); Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.

If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as concise as possible. He should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant and its factual basis.

2. Linkage Requirement

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 ...


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