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Keith Page v. Warren Stanley

August 16, 2011

KEITH PAGE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARREN STANLEY, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

I. INTRODUCTION

On June 15, 2011, plaintiff Keith Page ("Plaintiff") filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (the "Complaint") against various defendants. For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is *fn1 dismissed with leave to amend.*fn2

Congress mandates that district courts initially screen civil complaints filed by a prisoner seeking 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 the Court 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)(1)-(2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

II. ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff alleges that the following defendants violated his civil rights: (1) Robbert [sic] Corral ("Officer Corral"); (2) Jose Salazar ("Mr. Salazar"); (3) M. Steffanoff ("Sergeant Steffanoff"); (4) W. G. Siegl ("Captain Siegl"); (5) Calvin Aubrey ("Assistant Chief Aubrey"); and (6) Warran [sic] A. Stanley ("Chief Stanley") (collectively, "Defendants"). (See Complaint at 3-4). Plaintiff sues all Defendants in their individual capacities. (See id.). Plaintiff also sues Captain Siegl, Assistant Chief Aubrey and Chief Stanley in their official capacities. (See id. at 4).

Plaintiff's allegations are difficult to decipher. It appears, however, that Plaintiff is attempting to allege five interrelated claims arising from his arrest for driving under the influence by Officer Corral on March 20, 2007 and his subsequent re-arrest and incarceration. (Complaint at 5, 9). First, Plaintiff alleges that his "fourth amendment right was violated due to unlawful seizure, because [he] was arrested without probable cause." (Id.). Second, Plaintiff alleges that he was "deprived of [his] choice of the implied consent chemical test" in violation of his right to due process. (Id.). Third, Plaintiff alleges that he was "unlawfully imprisoned for 14 months due to fabricated charges, subjecting [him] to cruel and unusual punishment." (Id.). Fourth, Plaintiff vaguely alleges that his "right to equal protection" was violated. (Id.). Fifth, in an equally vague claim, Plaintiff alleges that he was "deprived of [his] right to liberty interest [sic], or a liberty interest." (Id.). Among other specific allegations of misconduct, Plaintiff appears to accuse various Defendants in a long and largely incomprehensible factual narrative of making false allegations (id. at 6, 9, 12), prohibiting Plaintiff from collecting evidence for his defense (id. at 8, 14), failing to investigate Officer Corral's conduct (id. at 10, 15), and failing to train and supervise their employees. (Id. at 8, 16).

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $18,737,666.66, punitive damages in "whatever amount court deems appropriate," and attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. (Id. at 20).

III. DISCUSSION

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint due to 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. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1128-29. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend, as indicated below.

A. The Complaint Fails To Satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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(e)(1) instructs that "[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct." Lengthy complaints violate Rule 8 if a defendant would have difficulty responding to the complaint. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir. 2011).

Plaintiff's Complaint does not comply with the standards of Rule 8. The unnecessarily long Complaint, which mixes potentially relevant and irrelevant facts with legal argument, is confusing and nonsensical. (See Complaint at 5-20). Plaintiff's vague claims fail to clearly identify the incident giving rise to each individual claim and the specific Defendants Plaintiff believes are liable for each of those claims. The Complaint therefore fails to provide Defendants with fair notice of the claims in a short, clear and concise statement. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Accordingly, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend for violations of Rule 8.

B. Defendants Siegl, Aubrey, And Stanley Are Immune From Suit In Their Official Capacities

Plaintiff is suing three employees of the California Highway Patrol -- Defendants Captain Siegl, Assistant Chief Aubrey, and Chief Stanley -- in both their individual and official capacities. (Complaint at 4). These three Defendants are immune from suit in their official capacities, however. See Krainski v. Nevada ex rel. Bd. of Regents of Nevada System of Higher Educ., 616 F.3d 963, 967 (9th Cir. 2010) (eleventh amendment bars civil rights suit for damages against state officials in their official capacities). As such, the Complaint is defective and must be ...


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