United States District Court, E.D. California
VITALY V. KONONOV, Plaintiff,
SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court
is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1) and motion to proceed
in forma pauperis (Doc. 12).
has submitted the affidavit required by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a) showing that plaintiff is unable to prepay fees and
costs or give security therefor. His motion to proceed in
forma pauperis will therefore be granted.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court is also required to screen
complaints brought by litigants who have been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Under these screening provisions, the court must
dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (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. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply,
concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84
F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives
the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and
the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone,
84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must
allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts
by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and
conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard.
Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the
screening required by law when the allegations are vague and
complaint is confusing and difficult to interpret. He brings
this action against the Sacramento County Sheriff's
Department, Sacramento County Mail Jail, Scott Jones, and
John McGinness. Yet, as best as the court can determine, his
allegations are against individual employees of the
Sheriff's Department. It appears he is claiming police
brutality and use of excessive force, and that he was
harassed by some of the defendants through the denial of
being allowed into the exercise yard, denial of a shower,
denial of day room use, denial of access to the commissary,
and denial of use of the telephone. He also makes some
allegations that one of the defendants threw his food at him
so he had to go without food for 17 hours.
has also filed several supplemental declarations attempting
to add new and unrelated claims to this action.
complaint suffers from a number of defects. First, to state a
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must allege
an actual connection or link between the actions of the named
defendants and the alleged deprivations. See Monell v.
Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978);
Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). “A person
‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a
constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if
he does an affirmative act, participates in another's
affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is
legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which
complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d
740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations
concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil
rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board
of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Rather,
the plaintiff must set forth specific facts as to each
individual defendant's causal role in the alleged
constitutional deprivation. See Leer v. Murphy, 844
F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988).
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221,
1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The
critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however
inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis.
See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir.
1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a
complaint must contain more than “naked assertions,
” “labels and conclusions” or “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). In other words, “[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).
Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief
has facial plausibility. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim
upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the
allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct.
2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
court finds the allegations in plaintiff's complaint so
vague and conclusory that it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. Although the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint
must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim
plainly and succinctly. See Jones v. Community Redev.
Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff
must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt
acts which defendants engaged in that support plaintiff's
claim. See id. Plaintiff fails to make the
connection between the acts alleged and who the actor was.
Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for failure to
state a claim. However, plaintiff will be grant leave to file
an amended complaint.
the specific claims plaintiff attempts to state in his
complaint, the standards for those the court can decipher
will be outlined for plaintiff's benefit. As discussed
below, if plaintiff chooses to file an amended complaint, he
will be required to set forth with more particularity what
his claims are.