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Lyralisa Stevens v. M. Knowles

May 25, 2011

LYRALISA STEVENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
M. KNOWLES, WARDEN, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald PARADAUnited States Magistrate Judge

I hereby certify that this document was served by First Class mail postage prepaid, to all counsel (or parties) at their respective most recent address of record in this action on this date. A blank civil rights complaint form was also included for plaintiff.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

I. PROCEEDINGS

On March 11, 2008, Lyralisa Stevens ("Plaintiff"), filed a pro se Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 7, 2008, Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of mandate and declaratory relief against Defendant Knowles, requesting that she be provided sexual reassignment surgery ("SRS"). (Dkt. No. 3.) On April 21, 2008, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), seeking identical relief. (Dkt. No. 7.) On October 23, 2008, Defendant Knowles filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Request for Judicial Notice. (Dkt. Nos. 16-18.) On September 8, 2009, the Court dismissed the FAC with leave to amend and denied Defendant's Motion to Dismiss as moot. (Dkt. No. 41.)

On February 4, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). (Dkt. No. 51.) Although the Court did not order service of the SAC, Plaintiff served the SAC upon Defendant Knowles. On March 10, 2010, Defendant Knowles filed a Motion to Dismiss the SAC. (Dkt. No. 53.) On March 29, 2010,*fn1 Plaintiff filed a "Motion for Clarity on Vacation, and Motion for Change of Venue if Court Does not Validate Sufficiency of Evidence Presented in Questions Presented," which the Court construed as Plaintiff's Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. No. 57.) On June 15, 2010, Defendant Knowles filed a Reply to the Opposition. (Dkt. No. 61.)

On October 29, 2010, the Court issued its Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge ("Report and Recommendation"), recommending as follows: (1) dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint without leave to amend; (3) denial of Defendant Knowles' Motion to Dismiss as moot; and (3) entry of judgment dismissing the Second Amended Complaint with prejudice as to all Defendants. (Dkt. No. 62.) On November 22, 2010, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation, along with attached exhibits. (Dkt. No. 64.) Based on the Objections and exhibits, on December 20, 2010, the Court vacated its Report and Recommendation, dismissed the Second Amended Complaint with leave to amend, and denied Defendant Knowles' Motion to Dismiss as moot. (Dkt. No. 65.)

On January 24, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), along with attached exhibits. (Dkt. No. 68.) On March 1, 2011, Defendant Knowles filed a request that the Court screen the TAC. (Dkt. No. 69.) On March 7, 2011, the Court issued an order indicating that it is currently screening the TAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and/or 1915(e)(2), and denied Defendant's request as moot. (Dkt. No. 71.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In accordance with the mandate of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"), the Court has screened the Second Amended Complaint for the purpose of determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory; or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff's allegations of material fact must be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). When a plaintiff appears pro se, the Court must construe the allegations of the complaint liberally and must afford a plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988).

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The Supreme Court has explained the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) and the requirements for surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. , 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 167 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962 (9th Cir. 2009).

With respect to Plaintiff's pleading burden, the Supreme Court held that while a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 553-56 (citations and footnote omitted), abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957) (dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate "only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations."); see also Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93; Moss, 572 F.3d at 968.

In order to comply with the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 556). This plausibility standard is not a probability requirement, but does ask for more than mere possibility; if a complaint pleads facts "merely consistent with" a theory of liability, it falls short of "the line between possibility and plausibility." Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 557).

The Supreme Court has set out a two-pronged approach for reviewing possible failure to state a claim. Id. at 1949-50; see also Moss, 572 F.3d at 969-70. First, the reviewing court may identify those statements in a complaint that are actually conclusions, even if presented as factual allegations. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50. Such conclusory statements (unlike proper factual allegations) are not entitled to a presumption of truth. Id. In this context it is the conclusory nature of the statements (rather than any fanciful or nonsensical nature) "that disentitles them to the presumption of truth." Id. at 1951. Second, the reviewing court presumes the truth of any remaining "well-pleaded factual allegations," and determines whether these factual allegations and reasonable inferences from them plausibly support a claim for relief. Id. at 1950; see also Moss, 572 F.3d at 969-70.

The Court is not concerned at this stage with "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail" but with whether he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claims. See Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 579 F.3d 943, 960 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1974)). However, a complaint which consists of unintelligible, narrative ramblings fails to state a claim for relief. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1176-79 (9th Cir. 1996); see ...


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