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Coleman v. Foulk

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 3, 2017

FRED FOULK, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law. This proceeding was referred to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302.

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on August 23, 2013. On February 26, 2014, the court screened the complaint, as the court is required to do under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), and dismissed with leave to amend. The court noted, in part:

Plaintiff's complaint is 80 pages long. It was handwritten by plaintiff in small, at times illegible print. Most of the complaint is a recitation of allegations of fact which are not material to any valid cause of action upon which plaintiff could proceed in this court. Because the complaint fails, in any sense, to comply with the requirement that a complaint contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), the complaint will be dismissed.
The court will, however, grant leave to amend. In the amended complaint, plaintiff shall not present allegations of fact which do not support any claim upon which plaintiff may obtain relief in this court. While the court understands that plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and therefore entitled to a liberal interpretation of his pleadings, plaintiff is not entitled to bombard the court and defendants with page after page of meaningless allegations in a flailing attempt to state a claim upon which the court could grant relief. If plaintiff believes he has been harmed to a degree which is actionable in this court, plaintiff should identify specifically how he was harmed (i.e. what actionable injury he has suffered) and then include only those facts which identify who actually caused him harm. Plaintiff must omit meaningless background information and defendants who either had no part in causing plaintiff harm or whom plaintiff merely suspects had some part without any facts to back up his suspicions.

         Plaintiff submitted his amended complaint on May 1, 2014 which plaintiff limited to 19 handwritten pages. After this complaint was screened, plaintiff was permitted to proceed on the following claims against the following defendants:

1. Claims arising under the First Amendment for denial of the right of access to courts against defendants Swartz, Arnwald, Hanned, Tenya and Davis.
2. Claim arising under the First Amendment for retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights against defendant Davis.
3. Claims against defendant Nelson and Hale for denial of access to courts as described on page 3 of the district court's June 2, 2015 order.

ECF No. 26. All other claims and defendants identified by plaintiff in his amended complaint were dismissed.

         On November 3, 2015, defendants filed a motion to dismiss.[1] In response to the motion, plaintiff sought leave to file a second amended complaint. Among other things, plaintiff indicated a desire to attempt to cure some of the deficiencies with plaintiff's pleadings identified by defendants in their motion to dismiss and to allege compliance with the California Government Claims Act with respect to a claim arising under California law. After having reviewed defendants' motion to dismiss, after reviewing plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint, and in the spirit of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) which allows litigants to amend their pleadings after a motion to dismiss is filed in order to cure deficiencies highlighted in the motion to dismiss, the court granted plaintiff's motion to amend and indicated the court would conduct a full screening of plaintiff's second amended complaint at a later date. The court has now conducted that screening.

         As with plaintiff's original complaint, the second amended complaint is much too long. While the second amended complaint is twenty 8 1/2 x 11 pages long, plaintiff has modified the font size, line spacing and margins so that those 20 pages include approximately 40 pages of material if standard font size, margins and spacing were used.[2] Also, as with the original complaint, much of the material included is either immaterial in terms of stating a claim upon which relief can be granted in this court or is repetitive. Further, plaintiff did not simply attempt to cure the defects with the claims the court already identified as actionable and attempt to plead compliance with the Government Claims Act as he indicated he would do in his motion for leave to amend. Instead, he also included claims and defendants which have already been screened out, and countless other irrelevant factual allegations. For these reasons, plaintiff's second amended complaint, like his original complaint, violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) and will be dismissed.

         The court will give plaintiff an opportunity to comply with Rule 8(a)(2) in a third amended complaint. And while the court is aware that plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and therefore entitled to some leeway, if plaintiff ignores the court's directions with respect to contents of the third amended complaint as plaintiff did with respect to the contents of the second amended complaint, and still violates Rule 8(a)(2), the court will recommend that the third amended complaint be dismissed under Rule 41(b) for failing to follow court orders and that this case be closed. Plaintiff's third amended complaint must be in substantial compliance with the following:

         1. Plaintiff's third amended complaint shall not be longer than 20 pages with normal margins and font size. If plaintiff elects to handwrite his third amended complaint, the size of the text must resemble that of the text in ...

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