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Kareem Muhammad v. Chad Garrett

October 2, 2012

KAREEM MUHAMMAD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAD GARRETT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DIRECTING SERVICE OF PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Kareem Muhammad ("Plaintiff") is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action for a violation of civil rights against defendant Chad Garrett, an officer of the Bakersfield Police Department ("Defendant").

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing his complaint on July 23, 2012 (Doc. 1), and filed a First Amended Complaint on August 20, 2012. (Doc. 5). The Court screened Plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2), and found Plaintiff stated cognizable claims for violations of the Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 6 at 6). However, because Plaintiff provided few facts regarding his arrest, the Court was unable to determine if Plaintiff could state a cognizable claim for a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. Therefore, the Court granted Plaintiff an opportunity to either (1) cure the deficiencies identified by the Court by providing additional facts to support his claims or (2) notify the Court of his willingness to proceed upon the Fourth Amendment 2 claims. Id. 3

On September 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint in which he abandoned 4 his claim of a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. (Doc. 7). Rather, Plaintiff sought to proceed 5 on his claims of a violation of the Fourth Amendment for excessive force and unlawful arrest, which 6 the Court determined were cognizable. Id. at 1. On October 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed a notice informing 7 the Court "that he desires to abandon his claim for unlawful arrest and proceed only on his claim for 8 excessive force." (Doc. 11). 9

II. Pleading Standards

General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A pleading stating a claim for relief must include a statement affirming the court's jurisdiction, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and . . . a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, and pro se pleadings are held to "less stringent standards" than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521-21 (1972).

A complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the plaintiff's claim in a plain and succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). The purpose of the complaint is to give the defendant fair notice of the claims against him, and the grounds upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). The Supreme Court noted,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Conclusory and vague allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further, [A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." [Citation]. 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. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'

Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citations omitted). When factual allegations are well-pled, a court should 7 assume their truth and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; 8 conclusions in the pleading are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id.

The Court has a duty to dismiss a case at any time it determines an action fails to state a claim, "notwithstanding any filing fee that may have been paid." 28 U.S.C. § 1915e(2). Accordingly, a court "may act on its own initiative to note the inadequacy of a complaint and dismiss it for failure to state a claim." See Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361 (9th Cir. 1981) (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1357 at 593 (1963). However, leave to amend a complaint may be granted to the extent deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by an amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

III. Section 1983 Claims

Plaintiff seeks to proceed in this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 ("Section 1983"), which "is a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Thus, an individual may bring an action for the deprivation of ...


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