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Woods v. City of Los Angeles

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 22, 2017






         Plaintiff Anthony Shawn Woods (“Plaintiff”), a state inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed an unsigned civil rights complaint (“Complaint”) pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against defendants City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau, Los Angeles County Probation Department, and Los Angeles County Probation Officer Riley in his individual and official capacities (collectively, “Defendants”). ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1. As discussed below, the Court dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.



         On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff constructively filed[1] the Complaint against Defendants. See Dkt. 1, Compl. at 3-5; Dkt. 2, IFP Application.

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he is homeless and lives on the streets in downtown Los Angeles. Compl. at 5. Plaintiff alleges on March 15, 2016 and March 22, 2016, two Los Angeles Police Department officers and the Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau “thr[e]w away plaintiff's property.” Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges on June 2, 2016, defendant Riley, a Los Angeles County Probation Officer, issued Plaintiff's discharge papers with a June 4, 2016 discharge date. Id. However, Plaintiff alleges he was arrested on October 1, 2016 for failure to report to his probation officer. Id. Plaintiff alleges as a result of this arrest, he spent four days in jail and his property was “lost.” Id. Plaintiff alleges when he went to the Hall of Records to see who signed the arrest affidavit, he was told there was “no file.” Id.

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff claims violations of the Fourth Amendment “Freedom [from] Illegal search and seizure”; Eighth Amendment “Freedom [from] cruel and unusual punishment”; and Fourteenth Amendment “Equal Protection of the Law, Due Process of the Law, Freedom of Liberty.” Id.



         As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the Complaint and is required to dismiss the case at any time if 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

         In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, the Court applies the same pleading standard from Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”) as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 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.P. 8(a)(2).

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim “where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint “must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).

         “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889-90 (9th Cir. 2008). However, liberal construction should only be afforded to “a plaintiff's factual allegations, ” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 339 (1989), and the Court need not accept as true “unreasonable inferences or assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, ” Ileto v. Glock Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003).

         If the court finds the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, the court has discretion to dismiss with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears possible the defects in the complaint could be corrected, especially if the plaintiff is pro se. Id. at 1130-31; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). However, if, after careful consideration, it is clear a complaint cannot be cured by amendment, the court may dismiss without leave to amend. Cato, 70 F.3d at 1107-11; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th Cir. 2009).



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