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Bull v. Scribner

October 21, 2010

EMMANUEL BULL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A. K. SCRIBNER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS OBJECTIONS DUE IN THIRTY DAYS

Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Second Amended Complaint

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. Pending before the Court is the November 13, 2009, second amended complaint.

On November 20, 2007, an order was entered, dismissing the original complaint with leave to file a first amended complaint. That order noted that the complaint was 297 pages long, listing numerous defendants. The Court found that the complaint was not a "short and plain" statement of Plaintiff's claims within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint in response to the November 20, 2007, order. On May 20, 2009, an order was entered, screening the first amended complaint and granting Plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint. In the first amended complaint, Plaintiff stated a claim for relief against Defendant Correctional Officers Brown and Rivera for a single incident of excessive force occurring on September 18, 2002. Plaintiff failed to state any other claims for relief. Specifically, Plaintiff failed to state a claim for relief on his due process claim relating to a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing was conducted by Lt. Villareal. Plaintiff also failed to state a claim for relief on his allegations regarding interference by Defendant Grannis with the filing of an inmate appeal.

In the order granting Plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint, Plaintiff was advised of the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a). Rule 18(a) provides that "[a] party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party." Plaintiff was specifically advised that though multiple claims against a single party are fine, claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass a multiple claim, multiple defendant suit produces, but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees.

The Court noted that Plaintiff had the best chance of stating a claim regarding his allegations of the September 18, 2002, incident of excessive force against Defendants Brown and Rivera. The Court also screened the disciplinary hearing claim regarding Lt. Villareal (relating to the April 16, 2003, hearing) and Plaintiff's claim that Defendant Grannis prevented him from filing an inmate appeal. The Court advised Plaintiff that the first amended complaint stated an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Brown and Rivera for the incident on September 18, 2002, but failed to state any other claims for relief.

In response to the May 20, 2009, order, Plaintiff filed the second amended complaint that is now before the Court.*fn1 In the second amended complaint, Plaintiff names 24 individual defendants, and sets forth claims regarding the following incidents: The April 16, 2003, disciplinary hearing; a disciplinary hearing on February 27, 2003; a denial of visiting privileges on January 1, 2003; a claim of excessive force on April 10, 2002, by Defendants Brock, Bell, Parra and Romero; a claim of excessive force on July 8, 2002, by Defendants Neighbors, Nails, Hartenstein, Zamora, Gutierrez and Carriaso; a claim of excessive force on September 18, 2009, by Defendants Brown, Fehlman and Rivera. Plaintiff makes no mention of the September 18, 2002, incident referred to in the first amended complaint.

II. 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).

"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)).

III. Plaintiff's Claims

In the order dismissing the first amended complaint, Plaintiff was clearly advised that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) prevents him from joining unrelated claims. Plaintiff was advised that he stated a claim as to the September 18, 2002, incident, and that he could possibly amend to cure the defect regarding the April 16, 2003, disciplinary hearing. In the second amended complaint that is now before the Court, Plaintiff fails to include the September 18, 2002, incident. The Court will screen Plaintiff's second amended complaint regarding the April 16, 2003, hearing regarding the interference with the inmate appeals process. As to the remaining claims, the Court finds them to be unrelated to either the April 16, 2003, claim or the September 18, 2002 claim. Plaintiff was clearly advised of the rule that he may not bring unrelated claims. The Court finds that Plaintiff's excessive force allegations regarding the incidents in April and July of 2002 and September of 2009 are separate and distinct events from the incident at issue in the first amended complaint. Though the September 2009 incident involves the same defendants, it occurred several years after the event at issue in the first amended complaint. The disciplinary hearing on February 27, 2003, is a separate event from the April 16, 2003, hearing ...


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