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Steven Lee Huntsaker v. R. De La Rosa

February 16, 2011


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


On January 5, 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 R. De La*fn1Rosa, Orange County Sheriff's Deputy #5539, and P. White, Orange County Sheriff's Deputy #5119. For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.*fn2

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).



Plaintiff presents this action as raising two claims, although, as further explained below, the number and scope of his claims is in fact uncertain. Plaintiff alleges that on the night of December 18, 2009,*fn3 as he was heading toward his place of employment, "Deputy R. De La Rosa and Deputy P. White maliciously disregarded formalities of law and used, planned, and premeditated excessive force to arrest [Plaintiff] for ruining their entrapment scheme from the previous incident of the arrest warrant." (Complaint at 3A). According to Plaintiff, as he turned a corner on the way to work, he was "immediately tased" by defendants De La Rosa and White, "then severely beaten in [his] body and face, and then knocked unconscious by brutal blows from a blunt object to [his] forehead." (Id. at 3A-3B). 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). Plaintiff also asserts that he is raising state law claims for assault, and he cites to the California Penal Code ("Penal Code") section 241; and a claim for battery, citeing to Penal Code section*fn4 242; and a claim for a false report by a police officer, citing Penal*fn5 Code section 118.1. (Id. at 3B). Specifically, Plaintiff states in a*fn6 claim separate from his excessive force claim that defendant De La Rosa knowingly filed a false police report accusing Plaintiff of battery on a peace officer and resisting a peace officer. (Id. at4).

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).



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 the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "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" or "facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability." Id.

The Complaint does not satisfy the meager pleading requirements of Rule 8. Although Plaintiff utilizes the standard form for civil rights complaints, his claim(s) as currently alleged are vague and confusing. For example, although it is fairly apparent that Plaintiff contends that defendants De La Rosa and White violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force in an ambush prior to Plaintiff's arrest and that defendant De La Rosa filed a false police report, it is unclear whether he is also claiming that one or both defendants are also liable for false arrest, for violating his due process rights, or for violating some other constitutional right as well. If Plaintiff is in fact alleging other theories of liability beyond excessive force and the filing of a false police report, they should be listed as separate claims.

Furthermore, it is entirely unclear what Plaintiff's reference to his "ruining their entrapment scheme from the previous incident of the arrest warrant" means. (Complaint at 3A). Plaintiff does not describe what the "entrapment scheme" was and who was involved in it, what he means by the "previous incident of the arrest warrant," and whether the allegations in this current suit, CV 10-1982, have anything ...

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