United States District Court, N.D. California
LOTU T. OSOTONU, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN CANYON POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge
an inmate at the Napa County Jail, has filed a pro se civil
rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is granted
leave to proceed in forma pauperis by separate
order. His complaint is now before the Court for review under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Standard of Review
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity, or from an officer or an employee of a governmental
entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court
must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims
which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings
must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica
Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A
complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and
(2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,
alleges that on March 3, 2017, American Canyon Police
Department Officer Linchall used excessive force on him when
Officer Linchall approached Plaintiff's car, falsely
claimed that Plaintiff smelled of alcohol, and then,
violently and without cause, handcuffed Plaintiff, fracturing
his wrist. Dkt. No. 1 (“Compl.”) at 3.
Plaintiff's allegation that Officer Linchall used
excessive force in effectuating his arrest states a valid
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Rutherford v. City
of Berkeley, 780 F.2d 1444, 1445-48 (9th Cir. 1986),
overruled on other grounds by Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386 (1989) (allegation of use of excessive force by law
enforcement officer in effectuating an arrest states valid
§ 1983 claim for violation of substantive due process).
further alleges that Officer Linchall, and American Canyon
Police Department officers Snyder and Swartz, and Napa Police
Department Officer Hunter, have subjected him to
discrimination, racial profiling, and stereotyping. Compl. at
4. These allegations are insufficient to state a § 1983
claim for the following reasons.
it is unclear what constitutional right or federal law was
violated. A section 1983 plaintiff bears the burden of
pleading and proving two essential elements: (1) conduct that
deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity
protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States;
and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Discriminatory practices
can violate the Equal Protection Clause. City of Cleburne
v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985)
(“The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment commands that no State shall ‘deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
laws, ' which is essentially a direction that all persons
similarly situated should be treated alike.”) (quoting
Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 216 (1982). “To
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment a
plaintiff must show that the defendants acted with an intent
or purpose to discriminate against the plaintiff based upon
membership in a protected class, ” Barren v.
Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998), such as
race, Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 239 (1976)
(“The central purpose of the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment is the prevention of official
conduct discriminating on the basis of race.”).
these allegations fail to meet to pleading requirements set
forth in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule
8 requires that the complaint to contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While
detailed factual allegations are not required,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, “[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 (2009).
Plaintiff fails to specify what alleged unconstitutional and
discriminatory acts were committed by Defendants.
it appears possible that Plaintiff may be able to correct the
identified deficiencies, the Court will grant Plaintiff
another opportunity to plead this claim, and DISMISSES this
claim with leave to amend to correct the identified
deficiencies, if Plaintiff can truthfully do so. Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (if court
determines pleading could be cured by allegation of other
facts, pro se litigant entitled to opportunity to
amend complaint before dismissal of action). If Plaintiff
chooses to replead this claim, he must allege sufficient
factual details relevant to this claim against each Defendant
to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. For example,
Plaintiff should specify when the constitutional violation
took place, and how each specific defendant caused the
alleged constitutional violation.
Plaintiff has also listed the American Canyon Police
Department (“ACPD”) as a defendant. Compl. at 2.
It is unclear whether this is a typographical error as
Plaintiff has made no allegations regarding actions taken or
not taken by the ACPD. The ACPD is DISMISSED from this action
with leave to amend. If Plaintiff intends to sue the ACPD, he
must specify how the ACPD violated his rights under the
federal Constitution or federal law. The ACPD cannot be held
liable under § 1983 simply on the theory it is
responsible for the actions or omissions of its employees.
See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir.
1989). To impose municipal liability under § 1983 for a
violation of constitutional rights, a plaintiff must show:
(1) that the plaintiff possessed a constitutional right of
which he or she was deprived; (2) that the municipality had a
policy; (3) that this policy amounts ...