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Fuller v. Nguyen

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 30, 2017

EDWARD SAMUEL FULLER, Plaintiff,
v.
EUGENE NGUYEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff 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).

         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's 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).

         II. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Plaintiff 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.

         III. Screening Requirements

         The 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         A claim “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 basis. Id.

         “Federal 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)).

         “[A] 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 (1969).

         IV. Screening Order

         It is 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.

         The 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 ...


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