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Dexter Brown v. Hume

April 16, 2012

DEXTER BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HUME, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition to filing a complaint, plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, several requests for appointment of counsel, and several requests for injunctive relief. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff has requested leave to proceedin forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Dckt. No. 2. Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

II. Screening Requirement and Standards

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).

In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions," "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has facial plausibility. 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. at 1949. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

A pro se plaintiff must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) "requires a complaint to include 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)).

III. Screening Order

The court has reviewed plaintiff's complaint pursuant to § 1915A and for the reasons stated below, finds that it must be dismissed. The complaint alleges that defendant Hume compelled plaintiff to accept a special renal diet that was prescribed by a CDCR physician to treat plaintiff's chronic kidney failure. Dckt. No. 1at 4.*fn1 In addition to the allegations against Hume, the complaint alleges that other prison officials subjected plaintiff to involuntary medication, hospitalization, blood specimen collections, and unspecified medical treatments, sometimes under threat of death or by withholding other medical treatment. Alongside the vague allegations of "forced" medical treatment, are allegations that prison officials also caused plaintiff to "nearly die," "by falsely claiming" that plaintiff refused to be transported to U.C. Davis for the surgical removal of a blood clot. Id. at 7.

The complaint does not contain a short and plain statement as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). As drafted, the court cannot determine who plaintiff intends to name as defendants. Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint include a caption identifying all of the parties.

The only defendant listed in either the caption of the complaint or in the list of defendants on the form complaint is defendant Hume. Dckt. No. 1 at 1, 2. While the caption/list of defendants indicates that additional defendants are named in the statement of claims, the disjointed and confusing nature of the allegations make identifying all intended defendants an onerous task. In the body of the complaint, plaintiff refers to "the named defendant," "the named defendants" and also generically to "defendants." Plaintiff also purports to name multiple Doe defendants, but also states that he is providing the names of various Doe defendants. Id. at 9.

Additionally, the body of the complaint refers to approximately twenty other individuals as defendants, but none of them are listed in the caption or in the section of the form complaint for listing defendants.

Moreover, the complaint fails to state a cognizable claim based on any "forced" medical treatment or on the vague and conclusory allegation that plaintiff nearly died when prison officials "falsely claimed" that plaintiff refused to be transported for surgery. Plaintiff is hereby informed that an individual defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim unless the facts establish the defendant's personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or a causal connection between the defendant's wrongful conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978). That is, plaintiff may not sue any official on the theory that the official is liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009). Because respondeat superior liability is inapplicable to ยง 1983 suits, "a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Id. It is ...


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