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De Jesus v. Martel

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 8, 2017

MICHAEL MARTEL, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This proceeding was referred to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302.

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff's civil rights action initiated in the San Joaquin Superior Court was removed to this court on October 4, 2016. This court screened the five page complaint on December 7, 2016 and dismissed it with leave to amend for failing to state a claim. Following three extensions of time plaintiff filed a 511 page amended complaint including exhibits. The amended complaint names forty-five defendants and contains a table of contents that is over twenty pages long. In this voluminous pleading, plaintiff asserts that “he speaks for the entire Spanish speaking CDCR prison community….” ECF No. 13 at 46. ////

         Also pending before the court is defendants' motion for screening of plaintiff's complaint which was filed a mere two days after the amended complaint.[1] ECF No. 14.

         II. Screening Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain “ ‘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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citation omitted). To comply with Rule 8, a plaintiff should set forth “who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery.” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). Conclusory allegations are insufficient. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (stating that Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”; a pleading that “offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         The complaint does not comply with the standards of Rule 8. As set forth above, plaintiff's allegations contain a laundry list of defendants but fails to identify how each particular defendant is liable for each of the alleged constitutional violations. The court is not required to ferret through plaintiff's allegations and all of the attached documents in search of viable claims, Independent Towers of Wash. v. Wash., 350 F.3d 925, 929 (9th Cir. 2003), and plaintiff's failure to plainly and succinctly provide each defendant with fair notice of the bases for his allegations violates Rule 8. See Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir. 2011); see also American Ass'n of Naturopathic Physicians v. Hayhurst, 227 F.3d 1104, 1107-08 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[A] pro se litigant is not excused from knowing the most basic pleading requirements.”). Merely attaching hundreds of pages of documents, without specific allegations demonstrating how those documents support his claims, is not sufficient.

         In sum, the Complaint is subject to dismissal under Rule 8. However, the court will grant plaintiff leave to amend.

         If plaintiff chooses to file a second amended complaint, plaintiff must demonstrate how the conditions complained of have resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff's federal constitutional or statutory rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). Also, the second amended complaint must allege in specific terms how each named defendant is involved. There can be no liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unless there is some affirmative link or connection between a defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Furthermore, vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

         In addition, plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff's second amended complaint complete. Local Rule 220 requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. This is because, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once plaintiff files a second amended complaint, the original pleading no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in a second amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently alleged.

         In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's first amended complaint is dismissed;
2. Defendants' motion for screening (ECF No. 14) is ...

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