United States District Court, N.D. California
JOHN W. LYLE, Plaintiff,
SAN MATEO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY OFFICE, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; DENYING
MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL Dkt. No. 7
JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY United States Magistrate Judge
an inmate at the San Mateo County Jail, filed this pro se
civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a
variety of city and county government employees and the
agencies where they work, as well as several hospitals and
clinics. Plaintiff's application to proceed
in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order.
For the reasons explained below, the complaint is dismissed
with leave to amend.
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.
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 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.
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).
complaint contains a number of improperly joined claims. 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). When, as here, there are multiple
defendants, they may be joined 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.
complaint asserts claims of malicious prosecution by the San
Mateo County District Attorney's Office, improper arrest
and obstruction of a criminal complaint by police officers in
Menlo Park and San Jose, assault at a hospital, insufficient
medical treatment for a variety of conditions and misuse of
medical information by employees of the Palo Alto Medical
Foundation, Stanford University Medical Center and the San
Mateo County Hospital, ineffective assistance of counsel by
his defense attorneys; and interference with mail by
employees of the San Mateo County Jail. These claims
arise out of many different and unrelated incidents. He names
approximately seven different Defendants, and the body of his
complaint asserts unlawful actions by numerous additional
individuals and entities. He has also filed seven lengthy
letters recounting additional violations of his rights by
still others. Indeed, his complaint and letters set forth a
lengthy narrative that appears to catalogue every incident he
finds objectionable over the course of several months.
Moreover, Plaintiff does not list his claims in any kind of
coherent manner, but instead simply asserts a variety of
constitutional violations in the course of recounting his
convoluted narrative. As alleged, Plaintiff's claims do
not arise out of the same transaction, occurrence or series
of occurrences, and do not involve a common question of law
or fact. Plaintiff may not assert a grab-bag of unrelated
claims against different defendants, and this is precisely
what he has done. Accordingly, the Court finds the claims and
Defendants improperly joined.
Court cannot simply strike certain claims that are not
properly joined because it cannot be discerned which of the
many claims Plaintiff may wish to keep and which he wants to
omit. Thus, instead of dismissing certain claims and
Defendants, the Court will dismiss the complaint with leave
to file an amended complaint. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. In his
amended complaint, Plaintiff may only allege claims that (a)
arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences, and (b) present questions of law
or fact common to all defendants named therein. Or he may
bring multiple claims against a single defendant. Claims
arising from unrelated incidents against different defendants
must be alleged in separate complaints filed in separate
cases. Plaintiff will not be given another opportunity to
cure these deficiencies after the amended complaint ordered
below; if the deficiencies are not cured in the amended
complaint, this case will be dismissed.
complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. Plaintiff shall
file an amended complaint within twenty eight (28) days from
the date this order is filed The amended complaint must
include the caption and civil case number used in this order
(No. C 17-0426 JSC (PR)) and the words “COURT-ORDERED
FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT” on the first page. Because an
amended complaint completely replaces the original complaint,
see Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th
Cir. 1992), Plaintiff may not incorporate material from the
original by reference; he must include in his amended
complaint all the claims he wishes to pursue. Failure to
amend within the designated time and in accordance with this
order will result in the dismissal of this action.
is Plaintiffs responsibility to prosecute this case.
Plaintiff must keep the Court informed of any change of
address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed
“Notice of Change of Address.” He also must
comply with the Court's orders in a timely fashion,
although he may request an extension of time provided it is
accompanied by a showing of good cause and it is filed on or
before the deadline he wants to extend. Failure to ...