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Gradford v. Stanislaus County Sheriffs Department

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 3, 2018

WILLIAM J. GRADFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT, et al.,

          FIRST SCREENING ORDER ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 26.) THIRTY DAY DEADLINE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         William J. Gradford (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.) On August 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint as a matter of course. (ECF No. 26.)

         The First Amended Complaint is now before the court for screening. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The in forma pauperis statute provides that “[n]otwithstanding 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).

         “Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, ” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 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). “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, ” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations.” Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002) (emphasis added). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. SUMMARY OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The events at issue in the First Amended Complaint allegedly occurred at the Stanislaus County Safety Center in Modesto, California, when Plaintiff was detained there as a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Stanislaus County Sheriff. Plaintiff names as defendants, Deputy Mejia and Deputy YouseFPoor (collectively, “Defendants”).

         Plaintiff alleges as follow. On March 29, 2017, Deputy Mejia opened and read Plaintiff's legal mail letter coming from the U.S. District Court's Fresno Division, done out of Plaintiff's presence and without Plaintiff's permission, and after being told not to do so by higher officials.

         On March 31, 2017, Deputy YouseFPoor purposely opened and read two of Plaintiff's incoming legal letters from the U.S. District Court, done out of Plaintiff's presence and without Plaintiff's permission, on the same day those two legal letters arrived and after being told not to do so by higher ranking deputies, those being Lieutenant Kent [not a defendant], and Sergeant Johnson [not a defendant].

         Deputies Mejia and YouseFPoor and other deputies have been retaliating against Plaintiff because on December 5, 2016, Plaintiff witnessed Deputy Teixiera [not a defendant] throw another inmate against the wall while the inmate was having a seizure on the floor, and Plaintiff spoke up. Soon after, Deputy McCarthy [not a defendant] told Plaintiff that if he knew what was good for him he would keep his mouth shut. Plaintiff fears the deputies because a few years ago one of their ...


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