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Knanishu v. Sacramento Sheriff's Dept.

October 18, 2010

KENNETH KNANISHU, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SACRAMENTO SHERIFF'S DEPT., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is presently housed at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California. Before the court are plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint and defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 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 where 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)). However, 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." Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint. See Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976). The court must also construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, a protective custody inmate, alleges that, while he was housed at Sacramento County Jail, defendant Deputy Jacoby, the control booth officer, opened plaintiff's cell door and allowed an inmate named Caudle into the cell. Plaintiff claims Caudle beat him, causing numerous injuries. Plaintiff alleges that other inmates heard his cries for help and pressed emergency buttons. Plaintiff claims that twenty-five to thirty-five minutes passed before any medical aid was offered. Plaintiff was transported to a hospital where he received multiple stitches.

Plaintiff relies on documents attached to his amended complaint entitled "Sacramento County Sheriff's Department Continuation Report" allegedly written by defendant Jacoby. Therein, defendant Jacoby writes that Caudle had at one point expressed concern that plaintiff was not showering often enough. Plaintiff claims that these statements are sufficient to conclude that Jacoby "knew that Caudle was upset or had [plaintiff] under his radar."

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On December 31, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants Sheriff John McGinness, Lt. Brelji, Deputy Jacoby and Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. On July 2, 2010, defendants filed a motion to dismiss. On August 5, 2010, plaintiff filed an opposition.

The undersigned filed findings and recommendations on August 25, 2010, which were adopted in their entirety by the Honorable John A. Mendez on September 22, 2010 and plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint. Prior to their adoption, however, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint alleging deliberate indifference against defendant Jacoby. Also prior to their adoption, Jacoby filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint.

DISCUSSION

The allegations of plaintiff's amended complaint remain so vague and conclusory that the court is unable to determine whether the current action is frivolous or fails to state a claim for relief. Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice to the defendants and must allege facts that support the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). In this regard, plaintiff must allege, with at least some degree of particularity, overt acts which the defendant engaged in that support his claims. Id. Because plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), the complaint must be dismissed. Given the deficiencies of plaintiff's complaint and amended complaint, the court has serious doubts about whether ...


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