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Hunter v. Clark

May 28, 2010

LEROY DEWITT HUNTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAYS KEN CLARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY

(Doc. 1)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

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 has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).

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

Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) at High Desert State Prison in Susanville. He filed a form civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His statement of claim refers to the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132 et seq. Plaintiff names 27 individual defendants, including the Warden at Corcoran State Prison, the Attorney General, the Director of the CDCR and several correctional officials, but fails to indicate where the latter are employed.

The complaint is not clear. It refers however to plaintiff having been transferred to CSP Corcoran and then back to High Desert State Prison, to transfers between prison yards, to his disabled (wheelchair bound) status, and to a denial of access to "the telecommunications typewriter and tele relay system to communicate with the American people."

A. Civil Rights Claims

To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived plaintiff of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). "A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person 'does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'" Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). "[T]he 'requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.'" Id. (quoting Johnson at 743-44).

Plaintiff's complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to put any of the defendants on notice of the wrongful conduct they allegedly engaged in and what right they violated. In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, plaintiff must allege facts indicating: 1) who that defendant is; 2) what that defendant did; 3) what right that defendant violated; and 4) how that defendant's actions violated that right. Plaintiff may not simply provide a narrative recounting of the injuries suffered by plaintiff. Plaintiff may not name defendants together with a vague allegation that his rights were violated. Each defendant in a civil rights action is only liable for the injuries that their own actions cause. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) ("The ...


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