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Grant v. California Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 24, 2017

RUSSELL S. GRANT, Plaintiff,



         In this action, Plaintiff alleges that he is being transferred to various CDCR facilities in retaliation “to silence his complaints.” Because his allegations are conclusory and fail to specifically link any individual to his factual allegations, the Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.

         A. Screening Requirement

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         B. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that the California Department of Corrections is legally responsible for the overall operation of California prisons and that the Wardens of SCC, PBSC, CTF, SVSP, and CSATF are responsible for the actions that occur to inmates in their respective facilities. Plaintiff alleges he was allowed to be brutally assaulted at SCC in February 2016 and that he was subsequently transferred among the above prisons in an effort “to permanently ‘silence' and/or ‘kill' plaintiff for complaining about their conduct.” (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4.) However, Plaintiff fails to name any individuals as defendants in this action, fails to link any individuals to the claims he is attempting to state, and fails to state specific factual allegations to support any of his claims.

         The CDC is the only defendant named in this action. Plaintiff asserts claims under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and seeks declaratory relief, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and monetary damages. Plaintiff has not stated any cognizable claims, but may be able to correct the deficiencies in his pleading. Thus, the Court set forth the pleading requirements and the standards for his delineated claims. Likewise, the Court grants him leave to file a first amended complaint.

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

         “Rule 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.

         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 (2009), 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. 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. The vast majority, if not all of Plaintiff's allegations are general legal conclusions.

         While “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. Plaintiff's general legal conclusions are largely void of any facts to even be merely consistent with a defendant's liability -- let alone anything to satisfy Iqbal's plausibility standard.

         If he chooses to file a first amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as concise as possible. He should simply state which of his constitutional rights he feels were violated by each Defendant and its specific factual basis. Where the allegations against two or more Defendants are factually intertwined, Plaintiff need not repeat the factual allegations separately against each Defendant. Rather, Plaintiff should present his factual allegations and identify the Defendants he feels are thereby implicated. Plaintiff need not cite legal authority for his claims in a first 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).

         2. Linkage Requirement

         The Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 1983) requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by Plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that “[a] person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, Plaintiff must link individual, named defendants with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of Plaintiff's federal rights.

         Plaintiff must clearly identify the individuals that he feels are responsible for each violation of his constitutional rights and their factual basis as his Complaint must put each Defendant on notice of Plaintiff's claims against him or her. See Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004).

         3. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...

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