United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel and in
forma pauperis in an action brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The court screened plaintiff's original
complaint, deemed it deficient, and dismissed it with leave
to amend. ECF No. 12. He has filed an amended complaint (ECF
No. 14) which the court screens below.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The screening obligation applies where a complaint is removed
from state court. See, e.g., Morris v.
Horel, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56938, 2008 WL 686874, *1
(N.D. Cal., March 12, 2008) (screening civil rights action
removed from state court pursuant to Section 1915A). The
court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous
or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
“is [legally] frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v.
Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984).
“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims which
are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or whose
factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Jackson
v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989) (citation
and internal quotations omitted), superseded by statute
on other grounds as stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d
1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000); Neitzke, 490 U.S. at
327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim,
however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in
original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). However, in 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.” Id. (citations omitted). “[T]he
pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a
statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a
legally cognizable right of action.” Id.
(alteration in original) (quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
1216 (3d ed. 2004)).
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S.
at 570). “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.” Id. (citing
Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In reviewing a
complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true
the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital
Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trs., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976),
as well as construe the pleading in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff and resolve all doubts in the
plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395
U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
amended complaint raises two unrelated claims against two
separate defendants. The court could dismiss the complaint on
this basis alone. Nevertheless, the court has reviewed each
claim and, for the reasons stated below, finds that neither
should proceed past screening.
Failure to Train
he broadly alleges that Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones
has failed to train his deputies in how to deal with
“brain damaged and/or severely disabled people.”
ECF No. 14 at 3. Plaintiff alleges that he is “100
[percent] disabled by severe brain damage and sometimes
say[s] cuss words spontaneously.” Id. He
claims sheriff's deputies have “repeatedly beat
[him]” on account of his inability to control his
cursing. Id. But in order to state a
failure to train/supervise claim, a claimant must show that
“in light of the duties assigned to specific officers
or employees, the need for more or different training [or
supervision] [was] obvious, and the inadequacy so likely to
result in violations of constitutional rights, that the
policy-makers . . . can reasonably be said to have been
deliberately indifferent to the need.” Clement v.
Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 905 (9th Cir. 2002); see also
Wardell v. Nollette, No. C05-0741RSL, 2006 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 26818, at *10 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 20, 2006) (“The
cases in which supervisors have been held liable under a
failure to train/supervise theory involve conscious choices
made with full knowledge that a problem existed.”)
(also collecting cases for the foregoing proposition).
plaintiff fails to allege facts indicating that Sheriff Jones
acted with deliberate indifference. The current articulation
of his claim - that Jones failed to train his subordinates in
how to deal with brain damaged or severely disabled
individuals - is too broad to be credited. Neither mental
illness nor mental disability is a monolith and it would be
impossible for a supervisor, no matter how motivated, to
train his subordinates to effectively recognize and respond
to all possible iterations. Failure to effect the impossible
is not deliberate indifference. Nor can plaintiff's claim
succeed if its current articulation is interpreted as mere
shorthand for his own symptoms. Plaintiff has not alleged
facts indicating that the need for training on how to deal
with prisoners who curse uncontrollably was so obvious or
prevalent that Jones was deliberately indifferent in failing
to implement it.