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Brian Darnell Edwards v. High Desert State Prison

March 25, 2011

BRIAN DARNELL EDWARDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HIGH DESERT STATE PRISON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 14, 2011, the court dismissed plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend. On March 21, 2011 plaintiff filed a first amended complaint.

The court has reviewed plaintiff's amended complaint and, for the limited purposes of § 1915A screening, finds that it states a potentially cognizable claim against defendants Turner-Gambery, Cheney, Mitchell and Swingle. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

For the reasons stated below, the court finds that the complaint does not state a cognizable claim against defendant Warden McDonald. The claims against this defendant are dismissed with leave to amend.

The amended complaint contains no allegations against defendant McDonald. The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978) ("Congress did not intend § 1983 liability to attach where . . . causation [is] absent."); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976) (no affirmative link between the incidents of police misconduct and the adoption of any plan or policy demonstrating their authorization or approval of such misconduct). "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).

Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979) (no liability where there is no allegation of personal participation; Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 941 (1979) (no liability where there is no evidence of personal participation). 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) (complaint devoid of specific factual allegations of personal participation is insufficient).

Because plaintiff has failed to link defendant McDonald to the alleged deprivations, the claims against this defendant are dismissed with leave to amend.

Plaintiff may proceed forthwith to serve defendants Turner-Gambery, Cheney, Mitchell and Swingle and pursue his claims against only those defendants, or he may delay serving any defendant and attempt to state a cognizable claim against defendant McDonald.

If plaintiff elects to attempt to amend his complaint to state a cognizable claim against defendant McDonald, he has thirty days in which to amend his complaint. He is not obligated to amend his complaint.

If plaintiff elects to proceed forthwith against defendants Turner-Gambery, Cheney, Mitchell and Swingle, against whom he has stated a potentially cognizable claim for relief, then within thirty days he must return materials for service of process enclosed herewith. In this event the court will construe plaintiff's election as consent to dismissal of all claims against defendant McDonald without prejudice.

Any second amended complaint must show the federal court has jurisdiction, the action is brought in the right place, and plaintiff is entitled to relief if plaintiff's allegations are true. It must contain a request for particular relief. Plaintiff must identify as a defendant only persons who personally participated in a substantial way in depriving plaintiff of a federal constitutional right. Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978) (a person subjects another to the deprivation of a constitutional right if he does an act, participates in another's act or omits to perform an act he is legally required to do that causes the alleged deprivation). If plaintiff contends he was the victim of a conspiracy, he must identify the participants and allege their agreement to deprive him of a specific federal constitutional right.

In an amended complaint, the allegations must be set forth in numbered paragraphs. Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b). Plaintiff may join multiple claims if they are all against a single defendant. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). If plaintiff has more than one claim based upon separate transactions or occurrences, ...


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