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Miller v. Dixon

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 25, 2016

NORRIS DAJON MILLER, Plaintiff
v.
JOHN DIXON, No. 50239, Police Officer, Hawthorne Police Department, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On May 16, 2016, [1] Norris Dajon Miller (“Plaintiff”), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. (Dkt. No. 1). Congress mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portion thereof, before service of process if the complaint (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1-2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.

         II.

         ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff sues the following individuals: (1) Officer John Dixon of the Hawthorne Police Department; (2) Officer Sean Judd of the Hawthorne Police Department; and (3) Charlie Beck, the Chief of Police at “LAPD” (collectively “Defendants”). (Complaint at 2).

         Plaintiff alleges that, on February 10, 2016, Dixon and Judd assaulted Plaintiff in front of a restaurant in Hawthorne, California. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff claims that, while he was lying on the ground, Judd “put his knee in [Plaintiff’s] back extremely hard, ” which prevented Plaintiff from breathing, and Judd then handcuffed Plaintiff “extremely tight.” (Id.). Dixon allegedly “punched [Plaintiff] in [his] rib cage twice maliciously and sadistically to cause harm while [Plaintiff] was handcuffed [and] pinned to the ground.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Dixon and Judd were “under [Beck’s] command” and that Beck ordered them to assault Plaintiff. (Id. at 4).

         Plaintiff claims that during the assault he could not breathe due to his asthma; his rib cage hurt for three days following the assault; and he now suffers from “heartache, ” pain, “bad nerves, ” and “emotional stress.” (Id. at 3-5). Plaintiff maintains that he was never read his Miranda rights, he “didn’t do anything wrong, ” and he was not permitted to make a statement to the police about the assault. (Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff claims that Defendants’ conduct violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments[2] and seeks seven hundred million dollars in damages. (Id. at 3-5).

         III.

         DISCUSSION

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the Complaint due to pleading defects. However, the Court must grant a pro se litigant leave to amend his defective complaint unless “it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). For reasons discussed below, it is not “absolutely clear” that the defects of Plaintiff’s Complaint could not be cured by amendment, and the Complaint is therefore DISMISSED with leave to amend.[3]

         Plaintiff Fails To State A Claim Against Defendant Beck

         Plaintiff alleges that Dixon and Judd were under Beck’s command and that Beck ordered them to assault Plaintiff. (Complaint at 4). Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to section 1983 suits, “a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). The plaintiff must establish either the official’s personal participation in the unlawful conduct or “a sufficient causal connection” between the official’s conduct and the alleged constitutional violation. Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiff’s allegations that Beck violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights are conclusory, vague, and implausible. The Complaint contains no specific factual allegations that Beck was personally involved in or caused the assault. Moreover, while the Complaint correctly identifies Beck as the Chief of Police for the “LAPD, ” i.e., the City of Los Angeles Police ...


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