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Guillermo Garcia v. M. Mix


June 21, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Guillermo Garcia ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed June 14, 2012. (ECF No. 25.)

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

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)).

II. Discussion

Under section 1983, Plaintiff is required to show that (1) each defendant acted under color of state law and (2) each defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). There is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983, and therefore, each defendant is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49.

In this instance, Plaintiff has not sufficiently linked the defendants named in his complaint to any acts or omissions that purportedly led to the violation of those rights. For example, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McCue, Saylor, and Pate denied his right of access to the court causing his civil case to be dismissed. (First Am. Compl. 3, ECF No. 25.) An inmate's right of access to the courts is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas petitions, and civil rights actions. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 354, 346 (1996); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff has not alleged any facts demonstrating that he suffered an actual injury to qualifying litigation. Christopher, 536 U.S. at 415; Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351.

Plaintiff also states that Defendants engaged in a campaign to hit his cell two to three times per week, property was removed from his cell and destroyed, receipts were not provided, and he was given false write-ups. (ECF No. 25 at 3.) These assertions do not suffice to show that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated by any named defendant. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50. The allegations contained in the complaint do not link the named defendants to any act or failure to act that violated his constitutional rights. Iqbal at 1949 ("Absent vicarious liability, each Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct."); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934; George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007) ("Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the violation.").

Plaintiff includes an eleven page objection to the order dismissing his complaint which includes factual allegations interspersed with legal argument. While these factual allegations may be sufficient to state a cognizable claim, the Court declines to wade through the legal arguments to parse out the factual allegations contained within.

Additionally, the bases for Plaintiff's legal claims are not clear from the complaint. In his second amended complaint, Plaintiff shall state as briefly as possible the facts of his case, describing how each defendant is involved, and Plaintiff shall not give any legal arguments or cite to any cases or statutes. (See Form Complaint, § IV, enclosed with this order.) Plaintiff shall separate his claims, so that it is clear what his claims are and who the defendants involved are. Further, for each claim, Plaintiff shall clearly and succinctly set forth the facts to state the acts or failure to act by each Defendant that led to a knowing violation of Plaintiff's federal rights. Plaintiff's statement that defendants have violated his rights is not sufficient to identify any individual defendant.

Plaintiff will be permitted one final opportunity to file a second amended complaint clarifying the factual bases for his claims against each defendant. Plaintiff's amended complaint need not and should not be lengthy, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), but it must specify what each defendant did or did not do that led to the violation of Plaintiff's rights. Conclusory assertions of personal involvement or liability will not suffice. Iqbal at 1949-50.

Plaintiff is advised to refer to the order issued February 10, 2012, for the legal standards that appear to apply to his claims. Finally, the fact that Plaintiff's complaint was removed from state court does not excuse him from complying with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff may not bring unrelated claims against unrelated parties in a single action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a), 20(a)(2); Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011); George, 507 F.3d at 607. Plaintiff may bring a claim against multiple defendants so long as (1) the claim arises out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences, and (2) there are commons questions of law or fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2); Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1351 (9th Cir. 1997); Desert Empire Bank v. Insurance Co. of North America, 623 F.3d 1371, 1375 (9th Cir. 1980). Only if the defendants are properly joined under Rule 20(a) will the Court review the other claims to determine if they may be joined under Rule 18(a), which permits the joinder of multiple claims against the same party.

In his second amended complaint, Plaintiff shall choose which claims he wishes to pursue in this action. If Plaintiff does not do so and his amended complaint sets forth unrelated claims which violate joinder rules, the Court will dismiss the claims it finds to be improperly joined.

III. Conclusion and Order

For the reasons stated, Plaintiff's complaint does not state a cognizable claim for relief for a violation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is granted one final opportunity to file an amended complaint within thirty days. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 1987). Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated claims in his amended complaint. George, 507 F.3d at 607 (no "buckshot" complaints).

Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights, Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1948-49. "The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation." Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988). Although accepted as true, the "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).

Finally, an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), and must be "complete in itself without reference to the prior or superceded pleading," Local Rule 220. "All causes of action alleged in an original complaint which are not alleged in an amended complaint are waived." King, 814 F.2d at 567 (citing to London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1981)); accord Forsyth, 114 F.3d at 1474.

Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The Clerk's Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form;

2. Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed June 14, 2012, is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under section 1983;

3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint; and

4. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, this action will be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim.


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