United States District Court, E.D. California
LOUIS A. ALARCON, Plaintiff,
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
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.
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. §
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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).
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.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) & 20(a)(2)
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.
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.
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
Linkage and Causation
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).
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.
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.
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").
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.
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.
Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs
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))
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)).
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).
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)).
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,