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Steven Lee Huntsaker v. J. Moldenhaur

February 16, 2011

STEVEN LEE HUNTSAKER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. MOLDENHAUR, SHERIFF DEPUTY #3642, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

On January 4, 2011, Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two employees of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (the "Complaint"). The defendants named in the Complaint are J.*fn1

Moldenhaur, Orange County Sheriff's Deputy #3642, and P. Perez, Orange*fn2

County Sheriff's Deputy #0750. For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.*fn3

Congress has mandated that district courts perform an initial screening of complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portions thereof, before service of process if it concludes that the complaint (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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

I.

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff presents this action as raising a single claim, although, as further explained below, the number and scope of his claims is uncertain. Plaintiff alleges that on the night of September 27, 2008,*fn4 he fled from non-defendant Deputy Phelps to avoid being arrested pursuant to an active warrant for his arrest. (Complaint at 3A). According to Plaintiff, when defendants Moldenhaur and Perez found him underneath a car, they immediately tased him, dragged him from underneath the vehicle, and, as he lay flat on his stomach, stomped on him and continued to tase him repeatedly. (Id.). Plaintiff further asserts that Deputy Moldenhaur jumped on him, driving his knee into Plaintiff's back, shoved Plaintiff's face into the asphalt, and struck Plaintiff multiple times in the face with his fist. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that these acts constituted excessive force under section 1983 and further violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (Id. at 3). It appears that Plaintiff is also attempting to raise state law claims for assault, in violation of California Penal Code ("Penal Code") section 241; battery, in violation *fn5 of Penal Code section 242; and the filing of a false report by a police *fn6 officer, in violation of Penal Code section 118.1. (Id. at 3A). With *fn7 respect to his state law claims, Plaintiff asserts that he filed "a timely county claim in [2008] and a timely state [illegible] in March of [2008]." (Id.).

Plaintiff seeks an injunction preventing defendants "from harassing [him] or causing [him] additional physical bodily harm"; compensatory damages in the amount of ten million dollars ($10,000,000.00); punitive damages in the amount of ten million dollars ($10,000,000.00); and other relief in the form of "unspecified medical and future medical costs" due to Plaintiff's current ignorance regarding the "full extent" of his injuries. (Complaint at 7).

II.

DISCUSSION

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint due to multiple defects in pleading. Pro se litigants in civil rights cases, however, must be given leave to amend their complaints unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127-29; see also Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend, as indicated below.

A. Plaintiff Fails To Comply With Rule 8

The Complaint must be dismissed for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain "'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, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007). Rule 8(d)(1) instructs that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct." To avoid dismissal, a complaint must contain "more than labels or conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) ("Rule 8 . . . does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation"). In other words, the plaintiff must articulate "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial validity when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that ...


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