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Pearson v. Bakersfield Police Department

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 2, 2018

CORY JOE PEARSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BAKERSFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (DOC. 2) ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Cory Joe Pearson seeks to proceed pro se and in forma pauperis with an action for a violation of his civil rights against the Bakersfield Police Department, asserting its officers used excessive force after he surrendered to an arrest. (Doc. 9) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted, and his complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

         I. Proceeding in forma pauperis

         The Court may authorize the commencement of an action without prepayment of fees “by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such person . . . possesses [and] that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court reviewed the financial status affidavit filed by Plaintiff (Doc. 2), and finds he satisfies the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Therefore, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED.

         II. Screening Requirement

         When an individual seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is required to review the complaint and shall dismiss a complaint, or portion of the complaint, if it 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A plaintiff's claim is frivolous “when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992).

         III. Pleading Standards

         General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A pleading must include a statement affirming the court's jurisdiction, “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and . . . a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).

         A complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the plaintiff's claim in a plain and succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty. Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). The purpose of the complaint is to inform the defendant of the grounds upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). The Supreme Court noted,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Vague and conclusory allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further,

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” [Citation]. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citations omitted). When factual allegations are well-pled, a court should assume their truth and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; legal conclusions are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id. The Court may grant leave to amend a complaint to the extent deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by an amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         IV. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts he was arrested by officers with the Bakersfield Police Department on April 4, 2017. (Doc. 1 at 6) According to Plaintiff, he exited a motel room to smoke a cigarette, when he “noticed a suspicious SUV with blacked out tinted windows slowly approaching in [his] direction.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that when the doors of the vehicle opened, he saw guns and heard someone say, “Get the fuck on the ground.” (Id.) He asserts ...


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