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Woods v. Chappell

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 3, 2017

EARNEST CASSELL WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSAL; DENYING PENDING MOTIONS RE: DKT. NOS. 37, 38

          JEFFREY S. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a California prisoner, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint was dismissed with leave to amend, and then dismissed because Plaintiff failed to timely amend his complaint. On appeal, the judgment was reversed because Plaintiff was not afforded sufficient opportunity to obtain a copy of his original complaint prior to dismissal, and the case was remanded to this Court for further proceedings. Plaintiff has since filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint is reviewed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and it is dismissed for failure to cure the deficiencies in the original complaint.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "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, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 1974. Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         To 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 alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         II. Discussion

         The original complaint was dismissed because it contained a number of improperly joined claims under Rules 18 and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the order granting leave to amend, the Court advised Plaintiff of the deficiencies in the complaint and how to cure them, as follows:

The federal rules on joinder are straightforward. “A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). The rules are somewhat different when, as here, there are multiple parties. Multiple parties may be joined as defendants in one action only "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." Id. at 20(a)(2). The upshot of these rules is that “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 v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). "Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits." Id. "A buckshot complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free person - say, a suit complaining that A defrauded plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to pay a debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different ...

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