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Cohea v. Adams

January 3, 2010

DANNY JAMES COHEA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D. ADAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER

Plaintiff Danny James Cohea ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Plaintiff's "Notification to Proceed on Cognizable Claims; and Plaintiff's Request for the Court to Reinstate Order Directing Service Issued on September 8, 2009 (CO 23.)." and Plaintiff's "Request of Further Clarification of the Court's Order Granting Reconsideration and Vacate Order (CO 30); and Proceed on Found Cognizable Claims." Plaintiff filed these notices/requests on November 30, 2009. (Doc. #32, 33.)

I. Background

Plaintiff filed the complaint in this action on August 13, 2008. (Doc. #1.) On February 26, 2009, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. #12.) The Court found that the complaint stated some cognizable claims and that the remaining claims were not cognizable. Plaintiff was ordered to either proceed only on the cognizable claims, or to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies in the non-cognizable claims. On March 27, 2009, Plaintiff filed a response that requested that the Court proceed on the cognizable claims and reconsider Plaintiff's non-cognizable claims. (Doc. #13.) On May 5, 2009, the Court informed Plaintiff that it would not reconsider the non-cognizable claims and that Plaintiff could alternatively clarify his claims in an amended complaint and the Court would screen his amended complaint. (Doc. #16.) Alternatively, the Court also granted Plaintiff the option to voluntarily abandon the non-cognizable claims and proceed only on the claims found to be cognizable. On June 4, 2009, Plaintiff informed the Court that he wished to proceed on the claims found to be cognizable. (Doc. #17.)

The Court construed Plaintiff's notice as consent to voluntarily abandon the non-cognizable claims and only proceed on the cognizable claims. Although Plaintiff did not specifically state that he wished to proceed only on the cognizable claims, or that he consented to voluntary dismissal of the non-cognizable claims, this assumption was premised on the fact that Plaintiff was only given two options: proceed only on the cognizable claims, or clarify his claims in an amended pleading. On September 4, 2009 Plaintiff filed an objection after the Court recommended that the non-cognizable claims be dismissed. Plaintiff apparently believed that he could sneak by the Court's directives by proceeding on the cognizable claims and later objecting to the dismissal of the non-cognizable claims.

Giving Plaintiff the benefit of the doubt despite his repeated attempts to subvert the orders given by the Court, the Court vacated its orders allowing Plaintiff to proceed only on the cognizable claims and dismissing the claims found to be non-cognizable. (Doc. #30.) The Court essentially gave Plaintiff another chance and reset the procedural clock to the point before Plaintiff informed the Court of his desire to proceed on the cognizable claims. The Court carefully informed Plaintiff that he has two options: either move forward on only the cognizable claims, or attempt to remedy his non-cognizable claims by filing an amended complaint.

On November 30, 2009, Plaintiff filed a notice to the Court expressing his desire to proceed on the cognizable claims while simultaneously requesting "clarification" or reconsideration of the Court's screening of his non-cognizable claims. (Doc. #32, 33.)

II. Discussion

Plaintiff's request argues that the Court has continuously refused to inform Plaintiff of the specific deficiencies in the claims that were found to be non-cognizable. Plaintiff specifically refers to his claims against Defendant J. Guzman and Plaintiff's "Third Cause of Action." Plaintiff argues that his claims against Guzman and his "Third Cause of Action" cannot be dismissed by the Court because he was not given specific notice of the deficiencies in those claims. Plaintiff further argues that the claims he is attempting to assert against Guzman and under his "Third Cause of Action" are cognizable and he is entitled to proceeding on all of the claims stated in his complaint. Plaintiff requests that he be allowed to proceed on the claims found to be cognizable and that the Court allow Plaintiff to proceed on the claims that it previously found to be non-cognizable.

A. Plaintiff's "Third Cause of Action"

Plaintiff's complaint is broadly divided into three "Causes of Action". The "First Cause of Action" is titled "Access to the Courts Violations First and Fourteenth Amendments Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses" and spans approximately 17 pages. (Compl. 4-20.) The "Second Cause of Action" is titled "Access to the Courts Violations First and Fourteenth Amendments Retaliation for Free Protected Speech" and spans approximately 10 pages. (Compl. 20-29.) The "Third Cause of Action" is titled "First and Fourteenth Amendments Violations Conspiracy to Circumvent the Administrative Grievance Procedures in Retaliation" and spans approximately 8 pages. (Compl. 29-36.) Although Plaintiff provided a separate "Statement of the Case" in his complaint, the facts of his case are mostly alleged under his three "Causes of Action."

Given the tremendously unhelpful and nonsensical nature of Plaintiff's "Causes of Action," the Court analyzed Plaintiff's claims under the more proper causes of action and legal theories that apply to Plaintiff's allegations. Plaintiff's stated "Causes of Action" are nothing more than nonsensical legal jargon thrown together in grammatically incorrect phrases. Rather than insult Plaintiff, the Court refrained from explicitly informing Plaintiff of the nonsensical nature of his "Causes of Action" and instead liberally construed Plaintiff's complaint and analyzed Plaintiff's claims under the more traditionally accepted legal theories. Plaintiff's claims were analyzed as (1) claims for retaliation under the First Amendment, (2) claims for interference with the constitutional right of access to the courts, (3) claims for violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (4) claims for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court understands that Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and lacks the sophisticated legal training necessary to draft court pleadings. However, due to Plaintiff's insistence, the Court will specifically inform him of the deficiencies in his "Third Cause of Action." The deficiency is the fact that "First and Fourteenth Amendments Violations Conspiracy to Circumvent the Administrative Grievance Procedures in Retaliation" is not a "cause of action." It is legal gibberish.

First, the Court notes that when setting forth a claim in a complaint, it is helpful for the sake of clarity to refrain from combining multiple claims against multiple defendants under a single "cause of action." Plaintiff's "Third Cause of Action" fails to do this simple organizational task and instead arbitrarily combines elements of multiple legal theories and concepts, such as the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, retaliation, and conspiracy. Instead of attempting to untangle Plaintiff's web of legal gibberish, the Court construed Plaintiff's "Third Cause of Action" as touching upon claims for retaliation under the First Amendment and claims for violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff was specifically informed that he stated cognizable claims for retaliation. ...


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