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Glover v. Cate

May 3, 2010

RONALD DEAN GLOVER, DENNIS WALKER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiffs are two state prisoners proceeding without counsel with a single civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Severance

This court has determined that each plaintiff should proceed separately on his own claim. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide "[p]arties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or of its own initiative at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just. Any claim against a party may be severed and proceeded with separately." Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. Courts have broad discretion regarding severance. See Davis v. Mason County, 927 F.2d 1473, 1479 (9th Cir. 1991).

In the instant action, plaintiffs are individuals in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, presently confined at two separate institutions. In this court's experience, an action brought by multiple inmate plaintiffs proceeding without counsel presents procedural problems that cause delay and confusion. Delay often arises from the frequent transfer of inmates to other facilities or institutions, the changes in address that occur when inmates are released to parole, and the difficulties faced by inmates who attempt to communicate with each other and with unincarcerated individuals.

Accordingly, the court will order that plaintiffs' claims be severed. Plaintiff Ronald Dean Glover will proceed in this action, while plaintiff Dennis Walker will proceed in a civil action to be opened by the Clerk of the Court. Each plaintiff will proceed with his own action and will be solely responsible for his own action.

The Clerk of the Court will be directed to assign the new action to the same district judge and magistrate judge assigned to the instant action. The Clerk of the Court shall make appropriate adjustment in the assignment of civil cases to compensate for this reassignment.

Screening

The court will dismiss the complaint and grant leave for each plaintiff to file a separate amended complaint.

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).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.

Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous when it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. However, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555) (citations and internal quotations marks omitted). ...


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