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Eduardo Magallon v. Ventura County Sheriff's Department

September 27, 2011

EDUARDO MAGALLON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER RE DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

Pro se prisoner Eduardo Magallon (hereinafter referred to as "Plaintiff") filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on August 31, 2011 pursuant to the Court's Order re Leave to File Action Without Prepayment of Full Filing Fee.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Ventura County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Dean, Deputy Reyerson and Deputy Clark have violated his civil rights. (See Complaint at 2-3.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on April 18, 2011 through April 25, 2011, while Plaintiff was housed at the Ventura County Jail, the following occurred: (1) Defendants failed to provide Plaintiff with his three phone calls; (2) Defendants performed a full naked body search; (3) Defendants fed Plaintiff a dietary tray (meat loaf) in segregation without medical clearance; (4) Plaintiff was beaten physically, mentally and emotionally without provocation; (5) Plaintiff was denied medical attention; (6) Plaintiff asked for a mattress, blanket and sheets but was told he had to "earn it;" (7) Plaintiff was refused grievance forms; and (8) Defendants used color of authority (Eighth Amendment) cruel and unusual punishment. (Complaint at 5.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Deputy Reyerson denied Plaintiff phone calls and beat Plaintiff while handcuffed and denied Plaintiff medical attention. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ventura County Sheriff's Department denied Plaintiff his right to phone calls, performed a naked search, fed Plaintiff a dietary tray without medical clearance and physically, mentally, verbally and emotionally abused Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Deputy Clark refused Plaintiff medical attention, and refused to give Plaintiff a grievance form. (Complaint at 5.)

Plaintiff seeks monetary compensation and return of his property. (Complaint at 6.)

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, 490 U.S. 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. "Whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (emphasis added). A challenge to the Court's subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time, including sua sponte by the Court. Emrich v. Touche Ross and Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1194 n. 2. (9th Cir. 1988). "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, 550 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); Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1998); Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987). A pro se litigant must follow the Rules of Procedure like any other litigant. Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 54 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 838 (1995).

The preferred practice of pleading is to state various claims for relief in separate counts. Haynes v. Anderson & Strudwick, Inc., 508 F.Supp. 1303, 1307 n.1 (E.D. VA. 1981). Thus, for example, in a civil rights action, each alleged constitutional deprivation should be pled as a separate claim. Pryor v. Cajda, 662 F.Supp. 1114, 1115 (N.D. Illinois 1987). The purpose of this requirement is to clarify the issues that will be addressed in the ensuing litigation. O'Donnell v. Elgin, J & E Ry. Co., 338 U.S. 384, 392 (1949); Williamson v. Columbia Gas & Electric Corp., 186 F.2d 464, 469 (3d Cir. 1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 921 (1951). Grouping different claims together results in muddled pleadings, Pryor, 662 F.Supp. at 1114, and places the unnecessary burden on the Court and the defendants to decipher which facts support which claims. Haynes, 508 F.Supp. at 1307 n.1.

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

Any complaint filed in this Court must contain (1) "a short and plain statement of the grounds upon the Court's jurisdiction depends" and (2) "a short and plain statement of the claim" showing that the Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 8(a). "The Plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which Defendants engaged in that support ...


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