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Armenta v. Paramo

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 21, 2017

RICHARD ARMENTA, CDCR #G-39318, Plaintiff,
D. PARAMO, Warden, et al., Defendants.


          Barry Ted Moskowitz, Chief judge United States District Court

         RICHARD ARMENTA (“Plaintiff”), is currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Los Angeles County (“CSP-LAC”) in Lancaster, California, and is proceeding pro se in this civil action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his original Complaint, Plaintiff claimed prison officials at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) in San Diego, California, violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights while he was incarcerated there in 2015 by charging him with, finding him guilty of, and punishing him for use of a controlled substance in violation of Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15 § 3016(a). Plaintiff claimed Defendants did so with “deliberate indifference” to medical evidence showing he had been prescribed Tylenol with codeine, which he argued accounted for the positive urinalysis results that initiated his disciplinary proceedings. (ECF No. 1 at 8-15.)

         I. Procedural Background

         On April 4, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), denied his Motion to Appoint Counsel, screened his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, and directed the U.S. Marshal to effect service upon the Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3) (ECF No. 4). See Puett v. Blandford, 895 F.2d 630, 634 (9th Cir. 1990) (“An incarcerated pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to rely on the U.S. Marshal for service of summons and complaint”).

         The U.S. Marshal successfully executed service upon Defendants Stratton, Salinas, Sanchez, Paramo, Frost, Covel, Zamora, Williams, and Lopez (ECF Nos. 7-15), but the summons was returned unexecuted as to Defendant G. Murphy on May 18, 2017 (ECF No. 6), with a note indicating that “per Litigation Coordinator, … they are unable to confirm that there is now or ever has been a G. Murphy employed at R.J. Donovan and they are not authorized to accept service on his/her behalf.” (ECF No. 6). No proof of service, either executed or unexecuted has yet to be entered on behalf of the remaining Defendant, G. Wiley.

         On June 19, 2017, the served Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 16). Defendants served Plaintiff with a copy of their Motion via U.S. Mail on the same day (ECF No. 16-1 at 25).

         On June 22, 2017, the Court calendared Defendants' Motion for disposition without oral argument on August 18, 2017, directed Plaintiff to file his Opposition, or Notice of Non-Opposition, by August 4, 2017, and granted Defendants until August 11, 2017 to file a Reply. (See ECF No. 18 at 2.)

         On July 11, 2017, and in lieu of an Opposition, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 20), signed, served upon Defendants' counsel, and dated July 3, 2017. (Id. at 18.) Plaintiff attaches to his Motion new “Supporting Facts” (id. at 5-9), and two new exhibits, but he also asks to “file an Amended Complaint to add new information, ” and “new claims for relief” as to certain Defendants and other portions of his original pleading. Id. at 2-4. Plaintiff has also filed a copy of a letter he wrote to the U.S. Marshal regarding the status of service upon Defendants Murphy and Wiley. (Id. at 17.)

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), a party “may amend its pleading once as a matter of course … within 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b)…” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         In this case, Plaintiff did not require the Court's leave to amend because at the time he filed and served his Motion on July 3, 2017, the 21-day period for amending as a matter of course, after having been served with Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B), had yet to expire. See ECF No. 20 at 1, 18; ECF No. 16-1 at 25; Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-72 (1988) (notice of appeal filed by a pro se prisoner is deemed to be “filed” when it is delivered to prison authorities for forwarding to the district court); Douglas v. Noelle, 567 F.3d 1103, 1107 (9th Cir. 2009) (“Houston mailbox rule applies to § 1983 suits filed by pro se prisoners.”).

         However, the Court notes that the documents attached to Plaintiff's Motion, while some pages are captioned as his “Proposed Amended Complaint, ” see ECF No. 20 at 5-10, do not constitute an Amended Complaint which is complete in itself. See S.D. Cal. CivLR 15.1 (requiring that “[e]very pleading to which amendment is permitted as a matter of right or has been allowed by court order, must be complete in itself without reference to the superseded pleading.”). It is well-established that an “amended complaint supersedes the original, the latter being treated thereafter as non-existent.” Valadez-Lopez v. Chertoff, 656 F.3d 851, 857 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). Once Plaintiff amends, his original pleading no longer serves any function in the case. Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967).

         Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be alleged; each pleading must include a “short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, ” a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” and “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009); Landers v. Quality Communications, Inc., 771 F.3d 638, 640-41 (9th Cir. 2014).

         As currently submitted, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend (ECF No. 20) does not, without more, qualify as an Amended Complaint pursuant to Local Rule 15.1; nor does it comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. For example, Plaintiff does not include the names of the Defendants he seeks to sue, nor does he indicate the capacity in which he seeks to sue them. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (“The title of the complaint must name all the parties.”); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992) (noting that an earlier complaint “cannot have the effect of filling in the names of the defendants in [a] later ‘et al.' pleading.”). Moreover, while Plaintiff apparently seeks to add an additional statement of facts and two exhibits to his original complaint, and refers to a list of “paragraphs” he wishes to intersperse into that pleading involving “new information, ” and “new claims for relief, ” (ECF No. 20 at 2-4), he may not amend by interlineation, and instead may amend pursuant to Rule 15 only by filing and serving upon Defendants one single Amended Complaint, which is complete by itself, and without reference to any previous pleading. See Flood v. ...

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