Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Alarcon v. Davey

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 9, 2017

LOUIS A. ALARCON, Plaintiff,
v.
D. DAVEY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (DOC. 1) ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF WITHOUT PREJUDICE (DOC. 7)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Salinas Valley State Prison, complains numerous events that occurred while he was housed at CSP-Cor. As discussed below, the Complaint violates Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, Plaintiff may be able to state some cognizable claims, so the Complaint is dismissed with leave to file a first amended complaint.

         A. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal. . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

         "Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiffs claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.

         Violations of Rule 8, at both ends of the spectrum, warrant dismissal. A violation occurs when a pleading says too little - the baseline threshold of factual and legal allegations required was the central issue in the Iqbal line of cases. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Rule is also violated, though, when a pleading says too much. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th Cir.2011) ("[W]e have never held --and we know of no authority supporting the proposition - that a pleading may be of unlimited length and opacity. Our cases instruct otherwise.") (citing cases); see also McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (affirming a dismissal under Rule 8, and recognizing that "[p]rolix, confusing complaints such as the ones plaintiffs filed in this case impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges"). Plaintiffs 48-pages of allegations, most of which are barely more than single-spaced, violate Rule 8 for the latter.

         Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.

         While "plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . ., " Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiffs factual allegations, " Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989), "a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled, " Brum v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982), and courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully" is not sufficient, and "facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         Further, Plaintiff is required to submit filings that are "clearly legible." Local Rule 130(b). In submitting a first amended complaint, Plaintiff is required to write his letters in larger, darker print and to double space his sentences. Local Rule 130(c).

         If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as concise as possible in no more than 25 double-spaced pages. He should merely state which of his constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant or group of Defendants and the factual basis. Plaintiff should not repeat factual scenarios separately where a group of Defendants allegedly engaged in an action together - i.e. if Plaintiff alleges that a group of Defendants attacked him in one event, he should only state the allegations of the attack once, identify each Defendant involved, and delineate the specific actions of each Defendant towards him during the attack. Plaintiff need not and should not cite legal authority for his claims in a first amended complaint. His factual allegations are accepted as true and need not be bolstered by legal authority at the pleading stage. If Plaintiff files a first amended complaint, his factual allegations will be screened under the legal standards and authorities stated in this order.

         2. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) & 20(a)(2)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) allows a party asserting a claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim to join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims as the party has against an opposing party. However, Plaintiff may not bring unrelated claims against unrelated parties in a single action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a), 20(a)(2); Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff may bring a claim against multiple defendants so long as (1) the claim(s) arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences, and (2) there are commons questions of law or fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2); Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1351 (9th Cir. 1997); Desert Empire Bank v. Insurance Co. of North America, 623 F.3d 1371, 1375 (9th Cir. 1980). Only if the defendants are properly joined under Rule 20(a) will the Court review the extraneous claims to determine if they may be joined under Rule 18(a), which permits the joinder of multiple claims against the same party.

         The Court must be able to discern a relationship between Plaintiffs claims or there must be a similarity of parties. The fact that all of Plaintiff s allegations are based on the same type of constitutional violation (i.e. deliberate indifference to different medical issues) does not necessarily make claims related for purposes of Rule 18(a); nor are Plaintiffs claims all related because he feels the Warden, or other supervising personnel failed to properly train or supervise all of the culpable actors.

         All claims that do not comply with Rules 18(a) and 20(a)(2) are subject to dismissal. Plaintiff is cautioned that if his amended complaint sets forth improperly joined claims, the Court will determine which claims may proceed and which claims will be dismissed. Visendi v. Bank of America, N.A., 733 F.3d 863, 870-71 (9th Cir. 2013). Whether any claims will be subject to severance by future order will depend on the viability of the claims raised in the first amended complaint.

         3. Linkage and Causation

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff s constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). "Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Crowley v. Nevada ex rel. Nevada Sec 'y of State, 678 F.3d 730, 734 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94, 109 S.Ct. 1865 (1989)) (internal quotation marks omitted). To state a claim, Plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating the existence of a link, or causal connection, between each defendant's actions or omissions and a violation of his federal rights. Lemire v. California Dep't of Corr. and Rehab., 726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013); Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiffs allegations must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief against each defendant. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. However, prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe, 627 F.3d at 342.

         4. Exhibits

         At screening, the submission of evidence is premature as Plaintiff is only required to state a prima facie claim for relief via his factual allegations. Thus, in amending his Complaint, Plaintiff would do well to simply state the facts upon which he alleges a defendant has violated his constitutional rights and refrain from submitting exhibits.

         If Plaintiff feels compelled to submit exhibits with an amended complaint, he is reminded that such exhibits must be attached to the amended pleading and must be incorporated by reference. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 10(c). For example, Plaintiff must state "see Exhibit A" or something similar to direct the Court to the specific exhibit Plaintiffs allegations reference and Plaintiff would do well to state what he intends the exhibit to show the reader. Further, if the exhibit consists of more than one page, Plaintiff must reference the specific page of the exhibit (i.e. "See Exhibit A, page 3").

         Finally, even if exhibits are properly attached and incorporated in a pleading, Plaintiff is cautioned that it is the Court's duty on screening to assume the factual allegations are true and to assess merely whether a cognizable claim is stated - not to wade through exhibits to verify evidentiary support. Therefore, it is generally unnecessary for Plaintiff to submit exhibits in support of the allegations in a complaint.

         D. Plaintiffs Allegations

         Plaintiff complains of a number of actions that occurred in 2015 and names 22 individuals as defendants along with "Does 1-25." Plaintiff seeks monetary damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. The Complaint is 52 pages in length, 48 of which are Plaintiffs factual allegations - most of which are less than double-spaced and difficult to read. The Court declines to expend its limited resources to review and summarize Plaintiffs allegations since the Complaint clearly violates Rule 8 and likely also violates Rules 18 and 20. In light of Plaintiff s pro se status, he is given the legal standards for the claims it appears he is attempting to state and is granted leave to file a first amended complaint that is no more than 25 double-spaced pages, exclusive of exhibits.

         B. Legal Standards

         1. Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

         Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment if they are "deliberately] indifferen[t] to [a prisoner's] serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). "A medical need is serious if failure to treat it will result in ' "significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." ' " Peralta v. Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076, 1081-82 (2014) (quoting Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir.2006) (quoting McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir.l997)(enbanc))

         To maintain an Eighth Amendment claim based on medical care in prison, a plaintiff must first "show a serious medical need by demonstrating that failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Second, the plaintiff must show the defendants' response to the need was deliberately indifferent." Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted)).

         "Indications that a plaintiff has a serious medical need include the existence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities; or the existence of chronic or substantial pain." Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); accord Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir. 2012); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000).

         Deliberate indifference is "a state of mind more blameworthy than negligence" and "requires 'more than ordinary lack of due care for the prisoner's interests or safety.' " Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994) (quoting Whitley, 475 U.S. at 319). Deliberate indifference is shown where a prison official "knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Id., at 847. Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard." Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir.2004). "Under this standard, the prison official must not only 'be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, ' but that person 'must also draw the inference.' " Id. at 1057 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). "If a prison official should have been aware of the risk, but was not, then the official has not violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the risk.'" Id. (quoting Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nevada, 290F.3d 1175, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002)).

         In medical cases, this requires showing: (a) a purposeful act or failure to respond to a prisoner's pain or possible medical need and (b) harm caused by the indifference. Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1122 (quoting Jett, 439 F.3d at 1096). More generally, deliberate indifference "may appear when prison officials deny, delay or intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison physicians provide medical care." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Under Jett, "[a] prisoner need not show his harm was substantial." Id; see also McGuckin, 974 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.