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Roger P. Snitchfield v. Red Bluff Police Dept.

December 13, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court is also required to screen complaints brought by litigants who have been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Under these screening provisions, the court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it:

(1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(A), (B) and 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h), this court must dismiss an action "[w]henever it appears . . . that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter . . . ." Because plaintiff, who is not a prisoner, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court will screen the complaint pursuant to § 1915(e)(2). Pursuant to Rule 12(h), the court will also consider as a threshold matter whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction.


Plaintiff alleges as follows:

1. I allege that police were keeping me under daily surveillance because they assumed that at a prior time (Sept. 2008) I ignored subpoena to appear at the arraignment and trial of a person who attempted to stab me in the dark in Red Bluff (July 2008). I was in Trinity County on a camping trip at the time the subpoena was issued and I did not receive it until after it had expired.

2. I allege that police in Red Bluff deliberately entrapped me in an intersection to make it appear that I committed a violation (April 28, 2009).

3. I allege that I was not allowed to enter a plea of not guilty by Tehama Superior Court because I did not pay a fine in advance of $380. Several months later the fine was increased to $648 and my license to drive was finally suspended on June 3, 2009, by DMV and continues to be suspended after a year and a half. I am now enduring much hardship due to inability to drive my car because of an illegal citation. I had a perfect driving record of 21 years before I was cited on the very same day that I returned to Red Bluff after an absence of three weeks.

Plaintiff names as defendants the Red Bluff Police Department and the Tehama County Superior Court. Plaintiff seeks money damages as well as an order "for Tehama Court and/or the California Department of motor Vehicles to restore my Driver License without penalty, as soon as possible."


Plaintiff's complaint suffers from the following defects, which will be discussed in more detail below: (1) the complaint does not name any of the individuals alleged to have violated his rights with respect to plaintiff's subpoena and entrapment claims; (2) plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to establish municipal liability on the part of defendant Red Bluff Police Department; (3) this court lacks jurisdiction and must abstain from entertaining plaintiff's claim regarding imposition of a traffic fine and suspension of his drivers license; and (4) this court lacks jurisdiction to enter an order (i.e., writ of mandamus) directing state officials to act as plaintiff requests.

A. Failure to Name Individuals

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege an actual connection or link between the actions of individuals and the alleged deprivations. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Rather, the plaintiff must set forth specific facts as to each individual's causal role in the alleged constitutional deprivation.

See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). In this case, to the extent plaintiff alleges liability of unnamed "police," plaintiff's claim is inadequate because he does not actually name any individual officers who are alleged to have violated his rights. Plaintiff will be provided an opportunity to file an amended complaint to name individual ...

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