United States District Court, E.D. California
JOHN P. FRUITS, Plaintiff,
SHASTA COUNTY SHERIFF, et al., Defendants.
KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner, and former Shasta County Jail inmate,
proceeding without counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and has requested leave to proceed
in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This
proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in
forma pauperis will be granted.
is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for
this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By
this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial
filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct
the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing
fee from plaintiff’s trust account and forward it to
the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be
obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the
preceding month’s income credited to plaintiff’s
trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the
appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the
amount in plaintiff’s account exceeds $10.00, until the
filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
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. §
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1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez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.
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“requires only ‘a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
’ in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.’” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for
failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. at 555. However, “[s]pecific
facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only
‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.’”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, citations and
internal quotations marks omitted). In reviewing a complaint
under this standard, the court must accept as true the
allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson,
551 U.S. at 93, and construe the pleading in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416
U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds,
Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984).
Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides
Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States .
. . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable
to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or
other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an
actual connection or link between the actions of the
defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered
by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social
Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) (“Congress did not
intend § 1983 liability to attach where . . . causation
[is] absent.”); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362
(1976) (no affirmative link between the incidents of police
misconduct and the adoption of any plan or policy
demonstrating their authorization or approval of such
misconduct). “A person ‘subjects’ another
to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the
meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act,
participates in another’s affirmative acts or omits to
perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes
the deprivation of which complaint is made.”
Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
supervisory personnel are generally not liable under §
1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of
respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant
holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him
and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically
alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862
(9th Cir. 1979) (no liability where there is no allegation of
personal participation); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589
F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978) (no liability where there is no
evidence of personal participation), cert. denied,
442 U.S. 941 (1979). Vague and conclusory allegations
concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil
rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board
of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982) (complaint
devoid of specific factual allegations of personal
participation is insufficient).
names the Sheriff of Shasta County, and Deputy Sheriff
“Does 1-5” as defendants (“deputy
defendants”). However, plaintiff’s allegations
against the sheriff are based on his role as supervisor.
Plaintiff alleges no facts demonstrating the sheriff was
involved or linked in the incidents alleged. Supervisorial
responsibility, without more, is insufficient.
the doe defendants, plaintiff is informed that the court is
unable to order service of process without the names of
specific defendants. “As a general rule, the use of
“John Doe” to identify a defendant is not
favored.” Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d
637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980). The Ninth Circuit has held that
where a defendant’s identity is unknown prior to the
filing of a complaint, the plaintiff should be given an
opportunity through discovery to identify the unknown
defendants, unless it is clear that discovery would not
uncover the identities or that the complaint would be
dismissed on other grounds. Wakefield v. Thompson,
177 F.3d 1160, 1163 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing
Gillespie, 629 F.2d at 642). However, plaintiff must
identify at least one individual by name because the U.S.
Marshal cannot accomplish service of process without a name
and address for the individual.