United States District Court, E.D. California
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition to filing a
complaint (ECF No. 1), plaintiff has filed an application to
proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (ECF
No. 2) and a motion to appoint counsel (ECF No. 5).
Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court
directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and
forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee
as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).
Motion to Appoint Counsel
requests that the court appoint counsel. District courts lack
authority to require counsel to represent indigent prisoners
in section 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States Dist.
Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). In exceptional
circumstances, the court may request an attorney to
voluntarily to represent such a plaintiff. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Terrell v. Brewer, 935
F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991); Wood v.
Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1335-36 (9th Cir. 1990).
When determining whether “exceptional
circumstances” exist, the court must consider the
likelihood of success on the merits as well as the ability of
the plaintiff to articulate his claims pro se in light of the
complexity of the legal issues involved. Palmer v.
Valdez, 560 F.3d 965, 970 (9th Cir. 2009). Having
considered those factors, the court finds there are no
exceptional circumstances in this case.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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. §
“is [legally] frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v.
Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984).
“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which
are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose
factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Jackson
v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (citation
and internal quotations omitted), superseded by statute
on other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d
1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000); Neitzke, 490 U.S. at
327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim,
however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual
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, ' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in
original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure
to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. (citations omitted). “[T]he
pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a
statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a
legally cognizable right of action.” Id.
(alteration in original) (quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216
(3d ed. 2004)).
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp., 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.” Id. (citing Bell
Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In reviewing a complaint under
this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations
of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex
Hosp. Trs., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), as well as
construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's
favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421
well established that a complaint must offer a set of facts
that put a defendant(s) on notice of a legal wrong the
plaintiff alleges plausibly that the defendant(s) committed.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556-57
(2007). After reviewing the instant complaint, the court is
convinced that a defendant could not reasonably be expected
to ascertain the nature of plaintiff's claims.
complaint runs to approximately forty dense, hand-written
pages and is difficult to read. Plaintiff has largely
declined to break these pages into paragraphs or order his
claims in discrete sections. The substance of plaintiff's
allegations is also difficult to make out. He refers to
numerous “Doe” defendants, some of whom are
alleged to be registered nurses and others to be certified
nursing assistants. ECF No. 1 at 8-9. He also includes
several named defendants who are identified on the docket.
Id. at 9-11. Plaintiff alleges that each of the
defendants is “responsible in some manner for the
injuries alleged in the complaint.” Id. at 11.
It is unclear what those injuries are, however. Plaintiff
alleges in vague terms that he has been denied necessary
medical care and subjected to serious health risks.
Id. at 12. He claims to have suffered
“irreparable injuries” and “severe mental
anguish”, though he does not elaborate beyond placing
the terms “stroke, heart attack, and death” in
nearby parentheses. Id. at 12, 14. Plaintiff also
claims, again without elaboration, that defendants have
subjected him ...