Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By order filed August 20, 2010, plaintiff's complaint was dismissed with leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff has now filed an amended complaint.
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).
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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). 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, id. However, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only '"give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (quoting Bell, 127 S.Ct. at 1964, in turn quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson, id., and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
Plaintiff appears to have cured the standing defects noted in the court's August 2, 2010 order. However, the amended complaint suffers from other defects that preclude the court from finding that the amended complaint satisfies the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must identify all named defendants, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a), and must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984).
Plaintiff has identified four defendants in the caption of the amended complaint, but there are what appear to be allegations against other named individuals throughout that pleading. Unless every defendant is clearly identified as a defendant the court is unable to determine who the defendants to the action are. To that end, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that every party be named in the caption of the complaint, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a), and this court's form civil rights complaint has a specific section for listing all named defendants.
Second, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint consist of "simple, concise, and direct" averments. McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). Plaintiff's amended complaint suffers from many of the same problems as the pleading dismissed in McHenry: there is much "'narrative rambling'" yet a marked lack of "notice of what legal claims are asserted against which defendants." Id. at 1176. Plaintiff must cure this if he chooses to file a second amended complaint.
For both of the foregoing reasons, the court has determined that the amended complaint does not contain a short and plain statement as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Because plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), the amended complaint must be dismissed. The court will, however, grant leave to file a second amended complaint.
If plaintiff chooses to file a second amended complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the conditions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). Also, the second amended complaint must specifically identify each named defendant and allege in how each defendant is involved. There can be no liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless there is some affirmative link or connection between a defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Furthermore, vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
In addition, plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff's second amended complaint complete. Local Rule 220 requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. This is because, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once plaintiff files a second amended complaint, the original pleading no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in a second amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently alleged.
Finally, the court will require plaintiff to file any second amended complaint on the court's form civil rights complaint. Plaintiff is cautioned that failure to comply with this order may result in a recommendation that this action be dismissed.
In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff's amended complaint is dismissed; and
2. Within thirty days from the date of this order, plaintiff shall complete the attached Notice of Amendment and submit the ...