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Nieto v. Hodge

November 23, 2010

LUPE NIETO, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLOVIS POLICE OFFICER DRAKE HODGE, CITY OF CLOVIS, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 20, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 9)

Lupe Nieto, Jr., ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in formapauperis in this action. On August 4, 2010, Plaintiff commenced this civil rights action against Clovis Police Officer Drake Hodge in his individual and official capacity and the City of Clovis (collectively, "Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). The Court screened Plaintiff's Complaint and dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. (Doc. 8). In addition, Plaintiff was informed that an amended complaint would supersede the original complaint. Id. at 13. Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on November 17, 2010. (Doc. 9). Therefore, the Amended Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

I. Screening Requirement

When a prisoner seeks relief against "a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity," the Court is required to review the complaint and identify "cognizable claims." 28 U.S.C § 1915(a)-(b). The complaint, or portion of the complaint, must be dismissed if it is "frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or.seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A claim is frivolous "when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). In determining malice, the Court examines whether the claims are pled in good faith. Kinney v. Plymouth Rock Squab. Co., 236 U.S. 43, 46 (1915).

II. Pleading Standards

General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A pleading stating a claim for relief must include a statement affirming the court's jurisdiction, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and.a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, and pro se pleadings are held to "less stringent standards" than pleadings drafted by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

A complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the plaintiff's claim in a plain and succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). The purpose of the complaint is to give the defendant fair notice of the claims against him, and the grounds upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). The Supreme Court noted,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me unlawfully accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Conclusory and vague allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further that,

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." [Citation]. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A court should assume the truth of well-pled factual allegations and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; conclusions in the pleading are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id. If the Court determines that a complaint fails to state a cognizable claim, the Court may grant leave to amend to the extent that deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by an amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

III. § 1983 Claims

Section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code does not provide for substantive rights; it is "a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). In pertinent part, Section 1983 states:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To plead a § 1983 violation, a plaintiff must allege facts from which it may be inferred that (1) he was deprived of a federal right, and (2) a person who committed the alleged violation acted under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. ...


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