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Jermaine Lee v. K. Harrington

January 5, 2011

JERMAINE LEE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
K. HARRINGTON,
DEFENDANT.



(Doc. 1)

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Jermaine Lee ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently pending before the Court is the complaint, filed September 3, 2009.

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)).

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is housed at Kern Valley State Prison. Plaintiff seeks to bring a class action suit against Defendant Warden Harrington in his official and individual capacities for violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff alleges that inmates are being housed in the gym in inhumane conditions because they are not provided with adequate living space, proper health care, and the shower area and toilets are filthy. Plaintiff alleges he has suffered severe emotional distress and irreparable injuries. He seeks injunctive relief, and attorney fees and costs.

For the reasons set forth below Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief. Plaintiff shall be given the opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies described by the Court in this order. In the paragraphs that follow, the Court will provide Plaintiff with the legal standards that appear to apply to his claims. Plaintiff should carefully review the standards and amend only those claims that he believes, in good faith, are cognizable.

III. Discussion

A. Class Action

Plaintiff attempts to bring this suit as a class action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4).

Plaintiff, however, is a non-lawyer proceeding without counsel. It is well established that a layperson cannot ordinarily represent the interests of a class. See McShane v. United States, 366 F.2d 286 (9th Cir. 1966). This rule becomes almost absolute when, as here, the putative class representative is incarcerated and proceeding pro se. Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975); see also Russell v. United States, 308 F.2d 78, 79 (9th Cir. 1962) (holding that "[a] litigant appearing in propria persona has no authority to represent anyone other than himself"). In direct terms, Plaintiff cannot "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class" as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). See Huddleston v. Duckworth, 97 F.R.D. 512 (N.D.Ind. 1983). ...


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