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Bonner v. Gipson

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 11, 2014

WILLIAM ROY BONNER, Plaintiff,
v.
GIPSON, et al., Defendants.

ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO EITHER FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT OR NOTIFY COURT OF WILLINGNESS TO PROCEED ONLY ON CLAIMS FOUND TO BE COGNIZABLE (Doc. 1)

JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Background

Plaintiff, William Roy Bonner, is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action on April 25, 2014. (Doc. 1.)

A. Screening Requirement

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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff complains of acts that occurred while he was an inmate at Corcoran State Prison ("CSP") in Corcoran, California. Plaintiff names the following as Defendants: Warden Connie Gipson; Assistant Warden M. Jennings; Lieutenants M.S. Robicheaux and A. Cruz; Sergeants A. Nadal and N. Scaife; and Correctional Officers M. Holguin and M.P. Hernandez. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief.

Plaintiff alleges that on April 11, 2013, he was involved in an altercation. After the altercation Sgt. Scaife and C.O. Holguin handcuffed and escorted him to the holding cage. While being handcuffed, C.O. Holguin placed his knee in the small of Plaintiff's back, grabbed a fist full of Plaintiff's hair, and then slammed Plaintiff's face into the pavement. On the way to the holding cage, Plaintiff alleges that Sgt. Scaife and C.O. Holguin slammed Plaintiff into various walls along the way. Once they arrived at the holding cage, these two Defendants repeatedly slammed Plaintiff's face into the holding cage which is a metal grill. Plaintiff alleges that these circumstances constituted use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim against Sgt. Scaife and C.O. Holguin, but may be able to amend to correct the deficiencies in his pleading to state cognizable claims against others of the Defendants he has named in this action. Thus, he is being given the applicable standards based on his stated claims and leave to either file a first amended complaint, or to notify the Court of his desire to proceed only on the claims found cognizable herein against Sgt. Scaife and C.O. Holguin.

C. Pleading Requirements

1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze 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). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

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 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557. While "plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts..., " Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences. Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully" is not sufficient, and "facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, it SHALL be as concise as possible. Plaintiff should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were ...


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