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Davis v. State

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 21, 2014

JAMIE M. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.


KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Jamie M. Davis has filed a pro se civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Complaint"). The Complaint was received by the Court on August 4, 2014, and filed on August 20, 2014, after Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court has now screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Based upon the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.


The Court's screening of a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) is governed by the following standards. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim "where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory." Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc. , 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted); accord O'Neal v. Price , 531 F.3d 1146, 1151 (9th Cir. 2008). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all the factual allegations in it. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); Hamilton v. Brown , 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). The court need not accept as true, however, "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig. , 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Shelton v. Chorley, 487 F.Appx. 388, 389 (9th Cir. 2012) (finding that district court properly dismissed claim when plaintiff's "conclusory allegations" did not support it). Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when it "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. "A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).


I. The Complaint fails to comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 8(a) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Further, Rule 8(d)(1) provides that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct." As the Supreme Court has held, Rule 8(a) "requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." See Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555 n.3. Complaints that are "argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant" and that "consist[] largely of immaterial background information" are subject to dismissal under Rule 8. See McHenry v. Renne , 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996).

Here, the 68-page Complaint contains so many irrelevant details and prolix arguments that it is difficult for the Court to determine the exact nature of Plaintiff's claims. As an initial matter, it is unclear who Plaintiff is naming as a defendant. Plaintiff provides a "list" of defendants on page 3, some of whom are listed elsewhere as defendants and some of whom are not. The complaint also contains wholly irrelevant ramblings and "exhibits" including numerous print-outs from library catalogs which are neither necessary nor relevant to the allegations presented. ( Id. at 8-9, 27-46, 48-66, 68). The Complaint must therefore be dismissed. See also Clayburn v. Schirmer, No. CIV S-06-2182 ALA P, 2008 WL 564958, at *3-4 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 28, 2008) (Alarcón, Circuit J., sitting by designation) (dismissing "long, rambling pleading" under Rule 8 and noting that "[t]he court (and any defendant) should be able to read and understand Plaintiff's pleading within minutes"); Little v. Baca, No. CV 13-0373 PA (RZ), 2013 WL 436018, at *1-2 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2013) (dismissing under Rule 8, a complaint "so lengthy and given over to tangents, minute details, matters that are self-evidently opinion, speechifying and other clutter that it is neither short' nor plain'").

In amending the Complaint, Plaintiff must state each of her claims separately and for each claim should identify "clearly and precisely" and briefly the legal basis and the facts underlying it. See Bautista v. L.A. Cnty. , 216 F.3d 837, 840-41 (9th Cir. 2000) ("Experience teaches that, unless cases are pleaded clearly and precisely, issues are not joined, discovery is not controlled, the trial court's docket becomes unmanageable, the litigants suffer and society loses confidence in the court's ability to administer justice."). Lengthy, rambling pleadings, such as the Complaint, that "leav[e] it to the Court to figure out what the full array of [Plaintiff's] claims is and upon what federal law, and upon what facts, each claim is based" remain subject to dismissal. Little, 2013 WL 436018, at *3.

II. Plaintiff Cannot Proceed Against Defendant State of California

Under the Eleventh Amendment, the State of California is immune from suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal court. Howlett v. Rose , 496 U.S. 356, 365, 110 S.Ct. 2430, 110 L.Ed.2d 332 (1990). "[A]n unconsenting State is immune from suits brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of another State." Pittman v. Oregon Employment Dep't , 509 F.3d 1065, 1071 (9th Cir. 2007)(quoting Edelman v. Jordan , 415 U.S. 651, 662-63, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974)). Thus, Plaintiff's claims against the State of California cannot proceed.

III. Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Los Angeles Police Department, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services or Reseda Police Department

Plaintiff has sued the municipal entities Los Angeles Police Department, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services or Reseda Police Department. Municipalities and other local government units are considered "persons" under § 1983 and therefore may be liable for causing a constitutional deprivation. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. , 436 U.S. 658, 690-91, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978); Long v. Cnty. of L.A. , 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). However, because no respondeat superior liability exists under § 1983, a municipality is liable only for injuries that arise from an official policy or longstanding custom. Monell , 436 U.S. at 694; City of Canton v. Harris , 489 U.S. 378, 385, 109 S.Ct. 1197, 103 L.Ed.2d 412 (1989). A plaintiff must show "that a [county] employee committed the alleged constitutional violation pursuant to a formal governmental policy or a longstanding practice or custom which constitutes the standard operating procedure of the local governmental entity." Gillette v. Delmore , 979 F.2d 1342, 1346 (9th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition, he must show that the policy was "(1) the cause in fact and (2) the proximate cause of the constitutional deprivation." Trevino v. Gates , 99 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 1996). "Liability for improper custom may not be predicated on isolated or sporadic incidents; it must be founded upon practices of sufficient duration, frequency and consistency that the conduct has become a traditional method of carrying out policy." Id. at 918; Thompson v. Los Angeles , 885 F.2d 1439, 1443-44 (9th Cir. 1989) ("Consistent with the commonly understood meaning of custom, proof of random acts or isolated events are [sic] insufficient to establish custom."), overruled on other grounds by Bull v. City & Cnty. of S.F., 595 F.3d 964, 981 (9th Cir. 2010) ( en banc ).

Plaintiff has failed to specifically identify any official policy or longstanding custom or practice of the Los Angeles Police Department, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services or Reseda Police Department that is violative of her constitutional rights. Plaintiff thus has not properly stated a constitutional claim against any municipal entity. See Harris , 489 U.S. at 385 (to state claim against municipality, plaintiff must show that "there is a direct causal link between a municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional deprivation"); see also Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (vague and conclusory allegations not sufficient to state ...

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