Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He once again seeks to amend his complaint, and proposes a Sixth Amended Complaint. Dckt. No. 74. Defendants Thomas and Turner do not oppose amendment. Dckt. No. 60. Also before the court are plaintiff's motions regarding service upon Iraida Murray, the apparent successor to deceased defendant Murray. Dckt. Nos 62, 72.
Plaintiff originally filed this civil rights action in California state court. The case was removed to this court by defendants on November 30, 2007. Dckt. No. 2. Plaintiff filed the first amended complaint on January 3, 2008. Dckt. No. 13. The court found that plaintiff had stated cognizable claims against defendants Turner, Thomas, and Murray and ordered service upon those defendants. Dckt. No. 16. A second amended complaint followed on June 5, 2008. Dckt. No. 20.
Defendants filed a notice of defendant Murray's death on June 23, 2009. Dckt. No. 30. A succession of amended complaints and attempts to substitute a successor for defendant Murray followed. Dckt. Nos. 36, 43, 52, 58, 62, 67. On January 13, 2011, the court issued an order noting that defendant Murray's widow, Iraida Murray, may be a proper party for substitution under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a) and informed plaintiff that he should file a new Rule 25 motion and serve it on Iraida Murray. Plaintiff has now filed another Rule 25 motion. Dckt. No. 62. He has also filed a motion requesting that the court order service by the U.S. Marshal of summons and the complaint on Iraida Murray.
The court most recently screened plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint, in which he named defendants Turner, Thomas, and Murray along with Masureat and Mehta. Dckt. No. 61. The court concluded that plaintiff had stated cognizable claims against defendants Turner, Thomas, and Murray, but not Masureat or Mehta, and granted plaintiff leave to amend to attempt to state cognizable claims against Masureat and Mehta. Id. Plaintiff then filed a Fifth Amended Complaint on February 25, 2011, and defendants Turner and Thomas filed a motion asking the court to screen it. Dckt. Nos. 67, 68. Before any screening occurred, plaintiff filed a Sixth Amended Complaint on March 9, 2011. Dckt. No. 74. Defendants Turner and Thomas do not oppose the amendment. Dckt. No. 76.
II. Motion to Amend and Screening
Plaintiff seeks to amend the fifth amended complaint to correct "five unintelligible paragraphs." Dckt. No. 73 at 1. As the amendment is minor and unopposed, it is granted.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court shall review "a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). "On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).
The court has reviewed the Sixth Amended Complaint and, for the limited purposes of § 1915A screening, finds that it states cognizable claims against defendants Thomas, Turner, Murray, and Mehta, and the court will provide plaintiff with service documents for defendant Mehta to return to the court for service by the U.S. Marshal.
III. Substitution and Service on Iraida Murray
In an attempt to comply with the court's order of January 13, 2011, plaintiff has again filed a motion to substitute Iraida Murray for defendant Murray. Dckt. No. 62. However, plaintiff concedes that he failed to serve the motion on Iraida Murray, as Rule 25(a)(3) requires. Dckt. No. 72. Plaintiff now requests that the court direct the U.S. Marshal to serve summons and the complaint upon Iraida Murray. Id. Defendants do not oppose service of plaintiff's Rule 25 motion (Docket No. 62) by the U.S. Marshal upon Ms. Murray, but oppose service of the summons and complaint. Dckt. No. 76.
As it has not yet been determined that Iraida Murray is a proper party for substitution, the court agrees with defendants that service of summons upon her would not be appropriate at this time. In light of plaintiff's in forma pauperis status, the court directs the U.S. Marshal to serve Ms. Murray with plaintiff's Rule 25 motion so that she may respond.
Accordingly, the court hereby ...