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Young v. Diaz

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 17, 2019

ZURI S. YOUNG and GEORGE LOVIN JACKSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
RALPH M. DIAZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiffs - both state prisoners - have brought this section 1983 action without the assistance of counsel. They seek to proceed in forma pauperis, but only one - Plaintiff Jackson (“Jackson”) - has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (and a copy of his trust fund account statement). ECF Nos. 2 & 4. Plaintiffs may only jointly proceed in forma pauperis if both submit a properly-supported application. Subsequently, however, Plaintiff Young (“Young”) submitted a motion for class certification wherein he stated that, owing to previous Prison Litigation Reform Act “strikes” he has sustained, only Jackson is qualified to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 5; see also ECF No. 10. As addressed below, Young may not avoid the three strikes provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act in that manner.

         Further, for the reasons stated hereafter, Jackson's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted but all of the claims in the complaint - save for Jackson's individual claims - must be dismissed without leave to amend. Jackson's individual claims must be dismissed with leave to amend. Further, the motion for class certification must be denied.

         Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis

         Jackson's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Accordingly, his request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. By separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of Jackson to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

         Screening

         I. Requirement and Standards

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “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.” Id. § 1915A(b).

         A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include 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, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         II. Analysis

         A. Action Construed as Individual Suit Brought by Jackson

         Jackson and Young assert that they intend this suit to proceed as a class action. ECF No. 1 at 1, 3. Pro se inmates may not, however, represent a class of their peers.[1]See Simon v. Hartford Life, Inc., 546 F.3d 661, 664-65 (9th Cir. 2008) (“As the district court accurately pointed out, courts have routinely adhered to the general rule prohibiting pro se plaintiffs from pursuing claims on behalf of others in a representative capacity.”); Claxton v. Ryan, No. CV 11-934-PHX-GMS (ECV), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69130, 2011 WL 2533554, at *1-2 (D. Ariz. June 27, 2011) (pro se plaintiffs “may not appear as an attorney for other persons in a class action”); Reed v. Board of Prison Terms, No. C 03-2917 MMC PR, 2003 WL 21982471, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2003) (“Pro se prisoner plaintiffs may not bring class actions because they are not adequate class representatives able to fairly represent ...


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