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Woods v. Chappell

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 30, 2015

EARNEST C. WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; ON PENDING MOTIONS (Dkt. No. 4)

JEFFREY S. WHITE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, a California prisoner, has filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. The Complaint is now reviewed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and it is dismissed with leave to amend within thirty days.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the.... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."" Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974. Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

II. Discussion

The complaint contains a number of improperly joined claims. Federal Rule 20 provides:

All persons... may be joined in one action as defendants if there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative, any right to relief arising out of the same transaction, occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a).

The federal rules on joinder are straightforward. "A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). The rules are somewhat different when, as here, there are multiple parties. Multiple parties may be joined as defendants in one action only "if any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action." Id. at 20(a)(2). The upshot of these rules is that "multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). "Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits." Id. "A buckshot complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free person - say, a suit complaining that A defrauded plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to pay a debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different transactions - should be rejected if filed by a prisoner." Id.

Plaintiff names 29 Defendants, including different state and federal government agencies, namely the United States Veterans Administrations, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Board of Parole Hearings. His complaint, which runs more than thirty pages with hundreds of pages of unlabeled and un-cited exhibits, sets forth a narrative that appears to catalogue every incident he finds objectionable over a three-year period. For example, he alleges that parole officials wrongfully denied parole, prison officials have not properly processed his administrative appeals, that a number of prison disciplinary violations were unfounded, he has not received adequate religious meals in prison, he did not timely receive medication and on another different medication was confiscated, he did not receive adequate phone calls with his attorney, a psychologist made a false report about his mental state, parole officials used improper procedures at his parole hearings, prison dental care was inadequate, federal officials have not sent his veteran benefits to his parents, a prison official used excessive force against him, he was placed in segregation in retaliation for filing inmate grievances, prison officials have denied him a surgery he needs, the law library at his prison was inadequate, prison officials improperly interfered with his mail, officials ...


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