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Dennis Maric v. Fresno County

April 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff Dennis Maric ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint on January 23, 2012, naming the County of Fresno as a Defendant, as well as a number of its law enforcement personnel as Defendants in their official and individual capacities, including Sheriff Margaret Mims, Sergeants Daniel Cervantes, Jeff Kerston, and Lee Rosander, and Deputies Alvarado, Todd Burk, Fernando Maldonado and John Robinson, Doe Badge No. 239, and an unspecified number of John or Jane Does. Further, Plaintiff asserted the following claims: numerous violations of Title 42 of the United States Code section 1983 (hereafter "section 1983"); malicious prosecution, malicious abuse of process, a violation of California Unruh Civil Rights Act, false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, "unreasonable force by law enforcement," "reckless disregard," and libel and slander by public officials. (See Doc. 1 at 1-3.)

On January 27, 2012, District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill issued an order denying Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, and requiring that Plaintiff pay the customary filing fee no later than February 15, 2012. (Doc. 3.) On or about February 7, 2012, Plaintiff paid the required filing fee.

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed with leave to amend.


A. Screening Standard

"Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid," the Court shall dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See also Omar v. Sea-Land Service, Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361-62 (9th Cir. 1981).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . .." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Id. at 678.

If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend should be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). Dismissal of a pro se complaint for failure to state a claim is proper only where it is obvious that the Plaintiff cannot prevail on the facts that he has alleged and that an opportunity to amend would be futile. Lopez, at 1128.

A claim is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). A frivolous claim is based on an inarguable legal conclusion or a fanciful factual allegation. Id. A federal court may dismiss a claim as frivolous if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or if the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id.

The Court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hospital, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and resolve all doubts in the Plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

A pleading may not simply allege a wrong has been committed and demand relief. The underlying requirement is that a pleading give "fair notice" of the claim being asserted and the "grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47-48 (1957); Yamaguchi v. United States Department of Air Force, 109 F.3d 1475, 1481 (9th Cir. 1997).

B. Plaintiff's Allegations

Generally speaking, Plaintiff alleges that on March 18, 2010, law enforcement officers were called to the home he shared with his wife, Marie Maric (hereafter "Marie"), at 445 S. Argyle Avenue, Apartment 108, in Fresno, California. He contends that she admitted attacking and assaulting him, and that Plaintiff did not hit her; nevertheless, Marie was not arrested. Sometime later, Marie called authorities again, indicating she wanted Plaintiff removed from their shared residence. (Doc. 1 at 6.)

Once law enforcement personnel arrived following Marie's second call, Plaintiff answered the door. Marie and the couple's two children were sitting on a couch near the front door. When he was asked what was going on, Plaintiff responded that he did not wish to say anything and that things were fine. Despite his statement, and the fact that the personnel at the door could see Marie and the two children were unharmed, officers entered the home, pushed Plaintiff against a wall and then pulled him from the apartment. He was then handcuffed. (Doc. 1 at 6-7.)

Plaintiff advised the officers that their actions were illegal and that he was aware of his Constitutional rights. The officers became aggravated and attacked him from behind, knocking him to the ground with their bodies, and causing him injury. Thereafter, Plaintiff was told by the officers to shut up and to "smoke some more dope." Before eventually being placed in a patrol car, Plaintiff was forced to stand in his shorts and nightshirt in the cold at night. Subsequently, a number of firearms were illegally confiscated from the apartment. Following his arrest, all criminal charges filed against Plaintiff were eventually dismissed. (Doc. 1 at 7-10.)

C. Analysis

1. The Court Is Not A Repository Of Evidence

Initially, it is noted that Plaintiff has appended nearly fifty pages of evidence as exhibits to his complaint. However, the Court cannot serve as a repository for the parties' evidence. Parties may not file evidence with the Court until the course of litigation brings the evidence into question (for example, on a motion for summary judgment, at trial, or when requested by the Court). Here, the litigation has not proceeded to a point requiring presentation of evidence to the Court. Thus, should Plaintiff elect to file an amended ...

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