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Wilson v. Azinkhan

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 20, 2017

GEOFFREY FITZGERALD WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
TANNAZ H. AZINKHAN, Ph.D, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          HONORABLE JAMES V. SELNA JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

         On October 31, 2016, Geoffrey Fitzgerald Wilson (“plaintiff”), who is at liberty, is proceeding pro se, and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed a Civil Rights Complaint (“Original Complaint”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against, among others (1) Tannaz H. Azinkhan, Ph.D.; and (2) Sharper Future (collectively “defendants”). Plaintiff sought monetary relief from defendant Azinkhan in her individual capacity only and from defendant Sharper Future in its official capacity only.

         On July 25, 2017, the Court dismissed the Original Complaint with leave to amend. (Docket No. 7).

         On September 7, 2017, plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint (“First Amended Complaint” or “FAC”). He again sues both defendants and seeks monetary relief from defendant Azinkhan in her individual capacity only and from defendant Sharper Future in its official capacity only. (FAC at 1-2, 6).

         Since, much like its predecessor, the First Amended Complaint is deficient in multiple respects, including those detailed below, it is dismissed with leave to amend.

         II. THE SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         As plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the First Amended Complaint, and is required to dismiss the case at any time it concludes the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         When screening a complaint to determine whether it states any claim that is viable (i.e., capable of succeeding), the Court applies the same standard as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Rosati v. Igbinoso, 791 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Rule 12(b)(6), in turn, is read in conjunction with Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”). Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2013). Under Rule 8, a complaint must 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 Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, at a minimum a complaint must allege enough specific facts to provide both “fair notice” of the particular claim being asserted and “the grounds upon which [that claim] rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 & n.3 (2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (Rule 8 pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”) (citing id. at 555).

         Thus, to avoid dismissal, a civil rights complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (citations and quotation marks omitted). A claim is “plausible” when the facts alleged in the complaint would support a reasonable inference that the plaintiff is entitled to relief from a specific defendant for specific misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). Allegations that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, or reflect only “the mere possibility of misconduct” do not “show[] that the pleader is entitled to relief” (as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)), and thus are insufficient to state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citations and quotation marks omitted). At this preliminary stage, “well-pleaded factual allegations” in a complaint are assumed true, while “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” and “legal conclusion[s] couched as a factual allegation” are not. Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted); Jackson v. Barnes, 749 F.3d 755, 763 (9th Cir. 2014) (“mere legal conclusions ‘are not entitled to the assumption of truth'”) (quoting id.), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 980 (2015).

         Pro se complaints in civil rights cases are interpreted liberally to give plaintiffs “the benefit of any doubt.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). If a pro se complaint is dismissed because it does not state a claim, the court must freely grant “leave to amend” (that is, give the plaintiff a chance to file a new, corrected complaint) if it is “at all possible” that the plaintiff could fix the identified pleading errors by alleging different or new facts. Cafasso v. General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Liberally construed, the First Amended Complaint alleges the following:

Defendant Sharper Future provides mental health services under a contract with the State of California. (FAC ¶¶ 7-8). Defendant Azinkhan is a psychologist and employee of Sharper Future. (FAC ¶¶ 5-6). As a condition of his parole, plaintiff was required to attend therapy sessions conducted by defendant Azinkhan. (FAC ¶ 10). Plaintiff's parole conditions also required plaintiff to obey all directions of “Sharper Future Staff” and to waive his privilege to doctor-client confidentiality with respect to defendant Azinkhan. (FAC ...

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