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Johnson v. McClintock

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 8, 2013

LARRY JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
JONATHAN McCLINTOCK, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

JOHN E. McDERMOTT, Magistrate Judge.

On December 21, 2012, Larry Johnson ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983.

On February 19, 2013, the Court issued an Order Dismissing Complaint With Leave to Amend.

On April 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC").

SCREENING STANDARDS

In accordance with the provisions governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court must screen the FAC before ordering service to determine whether the action: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory; or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States , 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). However, "the liberal pleading standard... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.'" Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin. , 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents , 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" to survive dismissal, a plaintiff must provide "more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (rejecting the traditional "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). The complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to rise above the "speculative level" ( Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555), or the merely possible or conceivable. Id. at 557, 570.

Simply put, the complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the complaint presents enough facts "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This standard is not a probability requirement, but "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id . A complaint that pleads facts that are merely consistent with liability stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility. Id.

In a pro se civil rights case, the complaint must be construed liberally to afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept , 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff should be given a statement of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to cure. Id . Only if it is clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment should the complaint be dismissed without leave to amend. Id. at 623; see also Cato v. United States , 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

After careful review and consideration of the FAC under the relevant standards and for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the FAC must be DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff names four City of Rialto Police Department Officers as Defendants in their individual capacities: Jonathan McClintock, Andre Shourds, K. Balleweg, and C. Compton. (FAC at 3-4.) Plaintiff also names the Rialto Police Department as a Defendant in the caption of the FAC. (FAC at 1.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conducted an illegal search and seizure of Plaintiff and his vehicle on December 17, 2012. (FAC at 3-5.) He states that Defendants pulled Plaintiff over for various California Vehicle Code violations, including a non-functioning taillight, lack of a front license plate, and a cracked windshield. (FAC at 5.) After the initial stop, Defendants stated they smelled marijuana emitting from the interior of the vehicle, which prompted them to search it. (Id.) Plaintiff ...


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