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Joseph D. Linson v. Hoffmeister

March 5, 2013



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. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and is before the undersigned pursuant to plaintiff's consent. See E.D. Cal. Local Rules, Appx. A, at (k)(4).

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).

I. Screening Order

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)).

Here, the complaint identifies the following defendants: Deputy Hoffmeister, Deputy Kent, and the County of El Dorado. Dckt. No. 1. It alleges that on October 20, 2011, defendant Hoffmeister released plaintiff to his housing unit. Plaintiff claims he was subsequently attacked by inmate Walker, that he was forced to defend himself, and that he was then tased by defendant Hoffmeister. According to plaintiff, defendant Hoffmeister subsequently apologized to plaintiff for not double-checking to make sure it was clear to release plaintiff to his housing unit, and also explained that he had tried to tase plaintiff and inmate Walker at the same time. Defendant Kent also allegedly apologized to plaintiff, explaining that he "thought it was clear." Exhibits to the complaint show that plaintiff lost privileges as a result of the incident, but was not disciplined. Plaintiff alleges that he was seriously injured because of the incident and that he did not receive adequate medical care. Lisa Issacson allegedly provided an inaccurate response to plaintiff's grievances about the lack of medical care. Plaintiff summarizes his claims as follows:

The county of El Dorado violated my 8th & 14th amendment rights of due process. Deputy Hoffmeister, deputy Kent showed deliberate indifference. They both violated my 8th & 14th amendment due process rights. Mrs. McMillan violated my 5th & 6th falsified reports. Also Lisa Isaacson (Nurse) falsified documents violated my 5th & 6th amendment rights of due process. My 8th amendment was violated by failing to contact medical staff of my injuries which resulted in cruel and unusual punishment. Irreparable harm continues with medical deficiencies. Such as broken bent fingers, spots in right eye, blurred vision, chest pain, and back and neck injuries.

Compl., Dckt. No. 1, § 27. Plaintiff purports to assert claims against individuals who are not identified as defendants. If plaintiff intends to assert claims against defendants in addition to Deputy Hoffmeister, Deputy Kent, and the County of El Dorado, he must identify them as such in the caption of the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a).

Having reviewed the complaint pursuant to § 1915A, the court finds that the allegations are too vague and conclusory to state a cognizable claim for relief. 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). Plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendants engaged in that support plaintiff's claim. Id. Because plaintiff fails to plausibly state a claim for relief, the complaint must be dismissed. The court will, however, grant plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint.

Plaintiff is hereby informed of the following legal standards that may be applicable to his intended claims for relief:

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting ...

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