United States District Court, E.D. California
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
proceeding in propria persona, brings this civil rights
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court
is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1).
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court is also required to screen
complaints brought by litigants who have been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Under these screening provisions, the court must
dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is
frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(A), (B) and 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h),
this court must dismiss an action “[w]henever it
appears . . . that the court lacks jurisdiction of the
subject matter . . . .” Because plaintiff, who is not a
prisoner, has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, the court will screen the complaint pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). This means that claims must be stated
simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the
complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the
plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests.
See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir.
1996). “Although a pro se litigant . . . may be
entitled to great leeway when the court construes his
pleadings, those pleadings nonetheless must meet some minimum
threshold in providing a defendant with notice of what it is
that it allegedly did wrong.” Brazil v. U.S.
Dep't of Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995).
“[A] pro se litigant is not excused from knowing the
most basic pleading requirements.” Am. Ass'n of
Naturopathic Physicians v. Hayhurst, 227 F.3d 1104, 1107
(9th Cir. 2000).
order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim a
complaint must contain more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it
must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” ”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). While “[s]pecific facts are
not necessary; the statement [of facts] need . . . . give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007)
(internal quotes omitted). In reviewing a complaint under
this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations
of the complaint in question, see id., and construe
the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
alleges his child was taken from his custody without due
process. He states the defendants did not allow him to make
temporary care arrangements for his child when he was
incarcerated in a separate matter.
complaint suffers from numerous deficiencies. As to his
complaint in general, § 1983 imposes liability upon any
person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another
of a federally protected right. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982).
“To make out a cause of action under section 1983,
plaintiffs must plead that (1) the defendants acting under
color of state law (2) deprived plaintiffs of rights secured
by the Constitution or federal statutes.” Gibson v.
United States, 781 F.2d 1334, 1338 (9th Cir.1986).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must
allege an actual connection or link between the actions of
the named defendants and the alleged deprivations. See
Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658
(1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976).
“A person ‘subjects' another to the
deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of
§ 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in
another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act
which he is legally required to do that causes the
deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v.
Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and
conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official
personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient.
See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th
Cir. 1982). Rather, the plaintiff must set forth specific
facts as to each individual defendant's causal role in
the alleged constitutional deprivation. See Leer v.
Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988).
appears to be bringing in an official-capacity suit against
county employees. The Supreme Court has explained the
difference between personal- and official-capacity suits.
“Personal-capacity suits seek to impose personal
liability upon a government official for actions he takes
under color of state law. Official-capacity suits, in
contrast, ‘generally represent only another way of
pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is
an agent.' ” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 165 (1985) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S.
232, 237-38 (1974); quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 690,
n. 55). “Suits against state officials in their
official capacity therefore should be treated as suits
against the State.” Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S.
21, 25 (1991) (citing Graham, 473 U.S. at 166).
“[I]n an official-capacity action . . . a governmental
entity is liable under § 1983 only when the entity
itself is a ‘moving force' behind the deprivation;
thus, in an official-capacity suit the entity's
“policy or custom” must have played a part in the
violation of federal law.” Graham, 473 U.S. at
166 (citing Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326
(1981); Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).
there are no specific allegations in the complaint that any
policy or custom played a part in the alleged violation of
plaintiff's rights. While exactly what happened is
unclear, it appears that what ever happened in the removal of
plaintiff's child from his custody were defendants'
individual actions, not necessarily based on some policy or
custom. Plaintiff's requested relief is similarly
unclear. It is possible he is asking for prospective
declaratory or injunctive relief, as he has requested
“reform and recourse, ” but it is unclear what
addition, if plaintiff is only seeking a declaratory
judgment, it is unclear whether plaintiff can satisfy the
case or controversy requirement. “It goes without
saying that those who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the
federal courts must satisfy the threshold requirement imposed
by Article III of the Constitution by alleging an actual case
or controversy.” City of Los Angeles v. Lyons,
461 U.S. 95, 101 (1983) (citing Flast v. Cohen, 392
U.S. 83, 94-101 (1968); Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395
U.S. 411, 421-425 (1969) (opinion of MARSHALL, J.)).
“Past exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself
show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive
relief . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present
adverse effects.” O'Shea v. Littleton, 144
U.S. 488, 493 (1974).
case, it appears that even if the events plaintiff's
alleges violated his Constitutional rights, there does not
appear to be any significant or real possibility of
continuing or future injury. From what the court can
understand of plaintiff's complaint, the alleged
violation, removal of his child from his custody without due
process, occurred due to his arrest on a separate matter. It
would appear, therefore, that any threat to plaintiff would
only occur if plaintiff is arrested again, which ...