United States District Court, E.D. California
MARK A. FREGIA, Plaintiff,
St. CLARI, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (DOC.
1) TWENTY-ONE (21) DAY DEADLINE
K. OBERTO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Mark A. Fregia, is a state prisoner proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As discussed below,
Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim upon which relief
may be granted and the Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to
file a first amended complaint.
Screening Requirement and Standard
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or
any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . .
. the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)
8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil
actions, with limited exceptions, ” none of which
applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a).
A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief .
. . .” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). “Such a statement
must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512.
of Rule 8, at both ends of the spectrum, warrant dismissal. A
violation occurs when a pleading says too little -- the
baseline threshold of factual and legal allegations required
was the central issue in the Iqbal line of cases.
See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S.Ct. 1937 (2009). The Rule is also violated, though, when a
pleading says too much. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v.
Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th
Cir.2011) (“[W]e have never held -- and we know of no
authority supporting the proposition -- that a pleading may
be of unlimited length and opacity. Our cases instruct
otherwise.”) (citing cases); see also McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir.1996) (affirming a
dismissal under Rule 8, and recognizing that “[p]rolix,
confusing complaints such as the ones plaintiffs filed in
this case impose unfair burdens on litigants and
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, quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff
must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim that is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations are
accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S.
Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009);
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557.
“plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings
facts . . ., ” Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d
949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners
are still construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of
any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th
Cir. 2010). However, “the liberal pleading standard . .
. applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations,
” Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9
(1989), “a liberal interpretation of a civil rights
complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that
were not initially pled, ” Bruns v. Nat'l
Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997)
quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268
(9th Cir. 1982), and 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). The “sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is
not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely
consistent with' a defendant's liability” fall
short of satisfying the plausibility standard.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949;
Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.
“repeated and knowing violations of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 8(a)'s ‘short and plain
statement' requirement are strikes as ‘fail[ures]
to state a claim, ' 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), when the
opportunity to correct the pleadings has been afforded and
there has been no modification within a reasonable
time.” Knapp v. Hogan, 738 F.3d 1106, 1108-09
(9th Cir. 2013).
chooses to file a first amended complaint, Plaintiff should
make it as concise as possible by simply stating which of his
constitutional rights he believes were violated by each
defendant and the factual basis for each claim. Plaintiff
need not cite legal authority for his claims in a second
amended complaint as his factual allegations are accepted as
true. The amended complaint should be clearly legible
(see Local Rule 130(b)), and double-spaced pursuant
to Local Rule 130(c).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) & 20(a)(2)
Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) allows a party asserting a
claim to relief as an original claim, counterclaim,
cross-claim, or third-party claim to join, either as
independent or as alternate claims, as many claims as the
party has against an opposing party. However, Plaintiff may
not bring unrelated claims against unrelated parties in a
single action. 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). Plaintiff
may bring a claim against multiple defendants so long as (1)
the claim(s) arise out of the same transaction or occurrence,
or series of transactions and occurrences, and (2) there are
commons questions of law or fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2);
Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1351 (9th Cir.
1997); Desert Empire Bank v. Insurance Co. of North
America, 623 F.3d 1371, 1375 (9th Cir. 1980). Only if
the defendants are properly joined under Rule 20(a) will the
Court review the additional claims to determine if they may
be joined under Rule 18(a), which permits the joinder of
multiple claims against the same party.
Court must be able to discern a relationship between
Plaintiff's claims or there must be a similarity of
parties. The fact that all of Plaintiff's allegations are
based on the same type of constitutional violation (i.e.
retaliation by different actors on different dates, under
different factual events) does not necessarily make claims
related for purposes of Rule 18(a). All claims that do not
comply with Rules 18(a) and 20(a)(2) are subject to
dismissal. Plaintiff is cautioned that if he fails to elect
which category of claims to pursue and his amended complaint
sets forth improperly joined claims, the Court will determine
which claims should proceed and which claims will be
dismissed. Visendi v. Bank of America, N.A., 733
F.3d 863, 870-71 (9th Cir. 2013). Whether any claims will be
subject to severance by future order will depend on the
viability of claims pled in the amended complaint.
1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of
Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by
persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v.
Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long
v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir.
2006); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th
Cir. 2002). “Section 1983 is not itself a source of
substantive rights, but merely provides a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.”
Crowley v. Nevada ex rel. Nevada Sec'y of State,
678 F.3d 730, 734 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94, 109 S.Ct. 1865 (1989))
(internal quotation marks omitted). To state a claim,
Plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating the existence of a
link, or causal connection, between each defendant's
actions or omissions and a violation of his federal rights.
Lemire v. California Dep't of Corr. and Rehab.,
726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013); Starr v.
Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-08 (9th Cir. 2011).
allegations must demonstrate that each defendant personally
participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v.
Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This
requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient
to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572
F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of
misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at
969. Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil ...