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Thomas v. Davey

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 21, 2017

EDWARD THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVE DAVEY, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 28)

          BARBARA A. McAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         Plaintiff Edward Thomas (“Plaintiff”), a state inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on June 27, 2016. On October 24, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's first amended complaint with leave to amend. (ECF No. 12.) Plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed on March 27, 2017, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 28.)

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, 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).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Corcoran (“Corcoran”), where the events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred. Plaintiff names sixty (60) individual defendants, including correctional officers, correctional counsellors and appeals coordinators. Plaintiff also names eight (8) doe defendants.

         In addition to naming numerous defendants, Plaintiff also asserts numerous claims concerning various events occurring during his incarceration at Corcoran, including, but not limited to, claims that (1) he has been forced to cell with rival gang members, (2) he has been improperly classified as a Compton Piru Blood with an “R” suffix, (3) his property has been illegally confiscated, (4) false disciplinary reports have been prepared, (5) his due process rights have been violated in connection with various disciplinary proceedings, (6) his inmate grievances have been improperly rejected, cancelled or processed; (7) his First Amendment religious rights have been violated; (8) defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs related to his single cell status and his confidential mental health information has been disclosed; (9) he was denied a transfer based on fabricated information, and (10) he was falsely charged with battery on an officer, resulting in administrative segregation.

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint fails to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 18, and 20. As Plaintiff proceeds in pro se, he will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint to cure these deficiencies to the extent he is able to do so in good faith. To assist Plaintiff, the Court provides the relevant pleading and legal standards that appear applicable to his claims.

         A. Pleading Standards

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Detailed 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint is neither short nor plain. Rather, Plaintiff's allegations concern multiple events occurring at various times during his incarceration at Corcoran, and he names more than sixty-five different defendants. Many of Plaintiff's allegations are based on conjecture or are conclusory in nature. If Plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, he must set forth factual allegations sufficient to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.

         2. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 18 and 20 A party asserting a claim “may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” 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). “Thus multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2.” George, 507 F.3d at 607. However, multiple parties may be joined as defendants in one action if “any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and [ ] any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). Therefore, claims against different parties may be joined together in one complaint only if the claims have similar factual backgrounds and have common issues of law or fact. Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1350-51 (9th Cir. 1997).

         Plaintiff may not pursue allegations against multiple parties involving multiple claims in this action. For example, Plaintiff may not pursue claims of retaliation involving one set of defendants while simultaneously pursuing claims for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against another set of defendants. These differing claims do not arise out of the same transaction or occurrence and do not share common questions of law or fact.

         Plaintiff's assertion of a conspiracy also is not sufficient to permit multiple claims against multiple parties to proceed in this action. To state a claim for conspiracy under section 1983, Plaintiff must show the existence of an agreement or a meeting of the minds to violate his constitutional rights, and an actual deprivation of those constitutional rights. Avalos v. Baca, 596 F.3d 583, 592 (9th Cir. 2010); Franklin v. Fox, 312 F.3d 423, 441 (9th Cir. 2001). A bare allegation that defendants conspired to violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights will not suffice to give rise to a conspiracy claim under ...


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