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Johnson v. Johnston

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 16, 2014

OSHAY JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
J. JOHNSTON, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

KENDALL J. NEWMAN, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel. On December 20, 2013, the undersigned recommended that plaintiff's amended complaint be dismissed. Subsequently, plaintiff filed a motion to amend, accompanied by a proposed second amended complaint, a motion to file late exhibits, objections to the findings and recommendations, and a motion to expand the record to include documents reflecting that his request to appeal the 2013 Comprehensive Risk Assessment was denied. Plaintiff's motions regarding exhibits and documents are granted, and the court turns now to plaintiff's motion to amend.

II. Motion to Amend

Rule 15(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:

(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

Id. Plaintiff has previously amended his complaint. Nonetheless, Rule 15(a)(2) provides that "[i]n all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Granting or denying a motion to amend is a matter within the district court's discretion. See, e.g., Ventress v. Japan Airlines , 603 F.3d 676, 680 (9th Cir. 2010).

Plaintiff has now amended his complaint to reduce the number of individuals named as defendants, and to include only one of his three initial claims. Good cause appearing, plaintiff's motion to amend is granted. Therefore, the findings and recommendations are vacated, and the court will now screen plaintiff's second amended complaint. After careful review of the second amended complaint, as well as plaintiff's exhibits submitted in support, the court finds that plaintiff's second amended complaint should be dismissed without leave to amend.

III. Screening

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 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy , 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous when it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona , 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez v. Smith , 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) ("a judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose factual contentions are clearly baseless."); Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1227.

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, 555-57 (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 must have 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 ...


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