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Barry Jameson v. John Marshall

July 18, 2011

BARRY JAMESON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN MARSHALL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

On February 11, 2011, Barry Jameson (hereinafter referred to as "Plaintiff") filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1985 against 33 Defendants (various prison officials at California Men's Colony ("CMC") located in San Luis Obispo, California and Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") located in Coalinga, California.) Plaintiff has named these Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff's claims are as follows: "(1) prison officials denied Plaintiff his constitutional right of access to the courts and interfered and thwarted his freedom of speech; (2) Plaintiff has been discriminated against and suffered damages due to being disabled; (3) placing Plaintiff into isolation and refusing to give him his prescription glasses or reading glasses was cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; (4) causing Plaintiff to serve an extra year in prison on the premise he needed to have a psychological evaluation was in clear violation of statutes and the Federal Constitution and was a violation of the Eighth Amendment; (5) Plaintiff was subjected to a ten-month lockdown by prison officials with no exercise or ability to leave his cell based on his race which has caused him permanent injury and was cruel and unusual punishment; (6) prison officials and guards refusing to return Plaintiff's legal files has caused Plaintiff to be unable to access the courts and in cases being dismissed; (7) prison officials at Pleasant Valley State Prison refused to allow Plaintiff telephonic access to the courts repeatedly, causing dismissal of a case and damages, in violation of federal due process guarantees; (8) Plaintiff's right of access to the courts was denied by prison officials' refusal to mail legal documents to attorneys hired by the State for State employees, because of Plaintiff being indigent; and (9) prison officials refusal to process administrative appeals, due to the warden's stated policy not to, has repeatedly denied Plaintiff access to the courts and thwarted his free speech in violation of the Federal Constitution." (See Complaint at 10-77.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages. (Id. at 77.)

Plaintiff has named the following Defendants: John Marshal (Warden at CMC; D. Engler, Correctional Counselor; T. L. Cook (Captain at CMC East); B. C. Kirker (Lieutenant at CMC); C. D. Reece (Lieutenant at CMC); M. Hughes (Sergeant at CMC); B. Escobedo (Guard at CMC); D. Williams (Guard at CMC); G. Garza (Administrative Segregation Unit ["ASU"] - Property Officer at CMC); Ben Curry (Warden at Correctional Training Facility ["CTF"]); James A. Yates (Warden at PVSP; J. Mattingly (Associate Warden at PVSP); P. D. Brazelton (Associate Warden at PVSP); R. Shannon (Captain at PVSP); C. Huckabay (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); D. Stone (Sergeant at PVSP mail room); M. Gastelum (Office Assistant at PVSP); Roger Kevorkian (Librarian at PVSP); B. Wisneski (Program Lieutenant at CMC); R. Furster (Program Lieutenant at CMC); M. Ortiz (Program Sergeant at CMC); A. Shimmin (Administrative Assistant and CDCR Lieutenant at PVSP); Belton (Correctional Officer at PVSP); N. Grannis (Chief of Inmate Appeals at CDCR); G. Duran (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); J. Herrera (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); L. Harten (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); H. Martinez (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); L. Macken (Correctional Counselor II at PVSP); L. Wilson (Office Technician at PVSP); K. R. Nash (Associate Warden II at PVSP); Does 1-10 (employees at CMC) and Does 11-12 (employees at PVSP). (Complaint at pp. 3-9.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Because Plaintiff is seeking to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court shall review such a complaint "as soon as practicable after docketing." Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2), the District Court is required to dismiss a complaint if the Court finds that the complaint

(1) is legally frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B) (re: all in forma pauperis complaints).

A complaint may also be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Neitzke v. Williams, 319, 327 n.6, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989) (unanimous decision)(patently insubstantial complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. When considering a dismissal, a Court must accept as true all allegations and material facts and must construe those facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. Hays, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). However, a "court [is not] required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). Nor is a Court "bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50, 173 L.Ed.2d 858 (2009).

"To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 Twombly, 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." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 172 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.) "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully." (Id.) Although a complaint need not include "'detailed factual allegations,' ... [a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Complaint must contain "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. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not 'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" (Id. at 1950 [quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (internal brackets omitted). "[A] well-pled complaint may proceed even if it appears that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Twombly, 55 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683 (1974).

In civil rights cases in which the Plaintiff appears pro se, the pleadings must be construed liberally, so as to afford the plaintiff the benefit of any doubt as to the potential validity of the claims asserted. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). If, despite such liberal construction, the Court finds that the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, the Court has the discretion to dismiss the complaint with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). A pro se litigant should be given leave to amend, unless it is clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130-31; Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995); Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

A. Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 8(a).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires "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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). "The plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's claim." Jones v. Community Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984).

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 Re: Unrelated Defendants and Unrelated Claims.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R.Civ.P.") 20(a)(2), individuals may be joined in one action as defendants if any right to relief asserted against them arises out of the same transaction, occurrence or series of transactions and occurrences and any question of law or fact common to all defendants arises in the action. See also George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007)("Unrelated claims against unrelated defendants belong in different suits"). If unrelated claims are improperly joined, the Court may dismiss them without prejudice. Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 21; 7 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure; Civil 3d §1684 at 484 (2001); Michaels Building Co. v. Ameritrust Co., 848 F.2d 674, 682 (6th Cir. 1988)(affirming dismissal under Rule 21 of certain defendants where claims against those defendants did not arise out of the same transaction or occurrences, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)).

Plaintiff makes allegations regarding events at both CMC and PVSP. Having reviewed the nine claims asserted in the Complaint, the Court finds that they do not all arise from the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. Claims Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine arise out of incidents that occurred at a different prison facility (PVSP), are asserted against different Defendants, and are materially different in nature than those asserted in Claims One through Three, which arose at CMC. Plaintiff's Complaint thus fails to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2).

Additionally, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a), a party asserting a claim for relief may join, as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party. Thus, multiple claims against a single party are fine, but claim A against defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated claim B against defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits. Plaintiff's Complaint thus fails to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).

The Court cannot allow Plaintiff's unrelated claims against unrelated Defendants to proceed in the same action. See Fed.R.Civ.P. Rules 18, 20, 21. The Court will permit Plaintiff to pursue in the current Complaint only Claims One through Three, which occurred at CMC. Plaintiff's allegations regarding events at PVSP and all Defendants related therein, namely Warden Curry, Warden Yates, Associate Warden Mattingly, Associate Warden Brazelton, Captain Shannon, Correctional Counselor Huckabay, Sgt. Stone, M. Gastelum, Roger Kevorkian, A. Shimmin, Officer Belton, Correctional Counselor Duran, Correctional Counselor Herrera, Correctional Counselor Harten, Correctional Counselor Martinez, Correctional Counselor Macken, L. Wilson, and Associate Warden K. R. Nash are dismissed without ...


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