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Patkins v. Alomari

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 21, 2014

DAVID C. PATKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
ALOMARI, et al., Defendants.

AMENDED 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, David C. Patkins, 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 May 7, 2014. (Doc. 1.)[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 housed at California Correctional Institute ("CCI") in Tehachapi, California. Plaintiff names Appeals Coordinator I. Alomari, Correctional Officers I. Vargas and Davies, Sergeant T.C. Davis, CCII M. Nipper, and Associate Wardens S. Reed and R. Hughes as Defendants in this action. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Plaintiff alleges that his access to the courts was obstructed as he was prevented from effectively utilizing the institutional grievance procedure at CCI and that he was retaliated against for attempting to do so. The details of Plaintiff's allegations against each Defendant are discussed where applicable below.

Plaintiff has stated a few cognizable claims and may be able to amend to correct the deficiencies in his pleading so as to make additional claims cognizable. Thus, he is being given the applicable standards based on his stated claims and leave to file a first amended complaint or to notify the Court that he desires to proceed on the claims found cognizable in this order.

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, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as concise as possible. He should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant and its factual basis. Where the allegations against two or more Defendants are factually intertwined, Plaintiff need not repeat the factual allegations separately against each Defendant. Rather, Plaintiff should present his factual allegations and identify whichever Defendants he feels are thereby implicated.

2. Legibility

Plaintiff is incarcerated and is representing himself in this action. Under those circumstances, the Court is lenient in overlooking technical and other errors. However, Plaintiff's miniscule writing and failure to double space his sentences renders his second amended complaint very difficult to decipher. Plaintiff is required to submit filings that are "clearly legible." Local Rule 7-130(b). In submitting a first amended complaint in compliance with this order, Plaintiff is required to write in larger handwriting and to double space his sentences. Local Rule 7-130(c). The failure to do so will result in an order striking any subsequently amended complaint from the record.

3. Exhibits

Plaintiff's Complaint is comprised of approximately 26 pages of factual allegations followed by 230 pages of exhibits.

First, the Court is not a repository for the parties' evidence. Originals, or copies of evidence (i.e., prison or medical records, witness affidavits, etc.) need not be submitted until the course of litigation brings the evidence into question (for example, on a motion for summary judgment, at trial, or when requested by the Court). If Plaintiff attaches exhibits to his amended complaint, the complaint must specifically reference each exhibit. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 10(c). For example, Plaintiff must state "see Exhibit A" or something similar in order to direct the Court to the specific exhibit Plaintiff is referencing. Further, if the exhibit consists of more than one page, Plaintiff must reference the specific page of the exhibit (i.e. "See Exhibit A, page 3"). Exhibits which are merely attached to the complaint but are not referenced in the complaint will not be considered.

Second, to the extent that exhibits are not referenced in the complaint, Plaintiff is advised that submission of evidence at this time is not proper. Plaintiff is reminded that, for screening purposes, the Court must assume that Plaintiff's factual allegations are true. It is unnecessary for a plaintiff to submit exhibits in support of the allegations in a complaint. Thus, if Plaintiff chooses to file a first amended complaint, he would do well to simply state the facts upon ...


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