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Clark v. Farinas

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 29, 2018

DELL FARINAS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a county inmate proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF No. 2). Plaintiff has also filed a request for an extension of time to reduce the size of his complaint (ECF No. 7) as well as a “letter” with attachments that is eighty-nine pages in length (ECF No. 8). The letter appears to relate to a recent criminal matter in which plaintiff was involved. (See generally id.). The court addresses each document herein.

         For the reasons stated below, the court will grant plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis. In addition, plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed with leave to amend with respect to his personal safety claim and related conspiracy allegation as well as plaintiff's traffic stop and vehicle impoundment claims. Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to file an amended complaint with respect to these claims will be granted. Plaintiff will also be directed to specifically link the remaining named defendants to the claims to be amended or run the risk of having those defendants eventually dismissed.

         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (See ECF No. 2). Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated for monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Screening Requirement

         The in forma pauperis statute provides, “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         III. Pleading Standard

         A. Generally

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         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). 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) (citing 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 to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

         B. Linkage Requirement

         Under Section 1983, a plaintiff bringing an individual capacity claim must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. See Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). There must 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. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691, 695 (1978).

         Government officials may not be held liable for the actions of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. Since a government official cannot be held liable under a theory of vicarious liability in § 1983 actions, plaintiff must plead sufficient facts showing that the official has violated the Constitution through his own individual actions by linking each named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of plaintiff's federal rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676.

         Liability may be imposed on supervisory defendants under § 1983 only if the supervisor: (1) personally participated in the deprivation of constitutional rights or directed the violations or (2) knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them. Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Defendants cannot be held liable for being generally deficient in their supervisory duties.

         IV. Plaintiff's Allegations in Complaint

         Plaintiff is an inmate housed at the Sacramento County Main Jail. In his complaint, he names California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation parole agents Dell Farinas, Teresa Mata and Gordon Lee; Sacramento Police Department employee Melvin Cuckovich #903; Judge Trena Burger-Plavan and Judge R. Seuyoshi; attorneys Michael Nelson and Charles Bauer; deputy district attorneys Willam Satchel and Stephanie Maroun; the towing company Sam Berri Tow; booking deputy N. Daniels #645, and Brian Holida as defendants. (See ECF No. 1 at 1-2). Plaintiff's statement of the claim is not completely clear. However, plaintiff appears to allege that each of these defendants was involved in various improper acts stemming from one initial incident: his arrest by the Sacramento Police Department. (Id. at 2-3).

         In the complaint, plaintiff's statement of the claim reads verbatim:

Plaintiff is a Registered Process Server on duty at the time in Sacramento, of officer(s) Cuckovich, observation(s). After advising them of my Right to Travel Officer Airoso reached for his gun and I proceeded to safety, was detained by CHP in Lodi, San Joaquin County, transferred to above officers, automobile towed by Sam Berri without owner consent, transported to Sac. Main Jail. Sexually assaulted by staff during booking process N. Daniels, on a warrant for a previous case being shot by Sac Sheriff with jury verdict of a misdemeanor and officers gave observation to DA office as encroachment of branches to the court.

(ECF No. 1 at 3).

         With respect to the relief sought, plaintiff ...

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