United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
ALEXANDER F. MACKINNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
28, 2019, plaintiff filed a Complaint in this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF
No. 1.) The Complaint was signed by plaintiff on June 2,
2019. (Id. at 7, 14.) Plaintiff paid the filing fee
on September 25, 2019. (ECF No. 18.) The Complaint arises
from incidents that occurred while plaintiff was detained on
criminal charges in San Diego County and in Riverside County,
California. (ECF No. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff names as defendants
more than ten individuals who are identified as attorneys,
two Superior Court judges, one District Attorney, one deputy
sheriff, and several individuals identified as doctors.
(Id. at 2, 8, 15-17.) The Complaint lists incident
dates of 1985, 1986, 2013, and October 24, 2018.
(Id. at 1, 3-5, 8.) Plaintiff seeks monetary
damages. (Id. at 7, 14.)
accordance with the terms of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
of 1995 (“PLRA”), the Court has screened the
Complaint prior to ordering service for purpose of
determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious; or
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; 42 U.S.C.
Court's screening of the pleading under the foregoing
statutes is governed by the following standards. A complaint
may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a
claim for two reasons: (1) “lack of a cognizable legal
theory;” or (2) insufficient “facts alleged under
a cognizable legal theory.” See, e.g., Kwan v.
SanMedica Int'l, 854 F.3d 1088, 1093 (9th Cir. 2017)
(internal quotation marks omitted); see also Rosati v.
Igbinoso, 791 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2015) (when
determining whether a complaint should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim under the PLRA, the court applies
the same standard as applied in a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6)). In determining whether the pleading states
a claim on which relief may be granted, its allegations of
material fact must be taken as true and construed in the
light most favorable to plaintiff. See, e.g., Soltysik v.
Padilla, 910 F.3d 438, 444 (9th Cir. 2018). However, the
“tenet that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). Rather, a court first “discounts conclusory
statements, which are not entitled to the presumption of
truth, before determining whether a claim is
plausible.” Salameh v. Tarsadia Hotel, 726
F.3d 1124, 1129 (9th Cir. 2013); see also Chavez v.
United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012). Nor
is the Court “bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation or an unadorned,
Keates v. Koile, 883 F.3d 1228, 1243 (9th Cir. 2018)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
since plaintiff is appearing pro se, the Court must
construe the allegations of the pleading liberally and must
afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010); see also
Alvarez v. Hill, 518 F.3d 1152, 1158 (9th Cir. 2008)
(because plaintiff was proceeding pro se, “the
district court was required to ‘afford [him] the
benefit of any doubt' in ascertaining what claims he
‘raised in his complaint'”) (alteration in
original). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has held that
“a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on
the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are
true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal
citations omitted, alteration in original); see also
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (To avoid dismissal for failure
to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.' . . . 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.”
(internal citation omitted)).
addition, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (“Rule 8”) states:
A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain: (1) a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction . . .; (2) a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought, which may
include relief in the alternative or different types of
(Emphasis added). Further, Rule 8(d)(1) provides: “Each
allegation must be simple, concise, and direct. No. technical
form is required.” Although the Court must construe a
pro se plaintiff's pleadings liberally, a
plaintiff nonetheless must allege a minimum factual and legal
basis for each claim that is sufficient to give each
defendant fair notice of what plaintiff's claims are and
the grounds upon which they rest. See, e.g., Brazil v.
United States Dep't of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199
(9th Cir. 1995); McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795,
798 (9th Cir. 1991) (a complaint must give defendants fair
notice of the claims against them). If a plaintiff fails to
clearly and concisely set forth factual allegations
sufficient to provide defendants with notice of which
defendant is being sued on which theory and what relief is
being sought against them, the pleading fails to comply with
Rule 8. See, e.g., McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172,
1177-79 (9th Cir. 1996); Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins.
Co., 651 F.2d 671, 674 (9th Cir. 1981). A claim has
“substantive plausibility” if a plaintiff alleges
“simply, concisely, and directly [the] events”
that entitle him to damages. Johnson v. City of
Shelby, 574 U.S. 10, 12 (2014). Failure to comply with
Rule 8 constitutes an independent basis for dismissal of a
pleading that applies even if the claims are not found to be
“wholly without merit.” See McHenry, 84
F.3d at 1179.
careful review of the Complaint, the Court finds that many of
the claims appear to be barred by the statute of limitations,
and the factual allegations appear insufficient to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. Further, the pleading
fails to comply with Rule 8 because it fails to state a short
and plain statement of each claim that is sufficient to give
each defendant fair notice of what plaintiff's claims are
and the grounds upon which they rest. Accordingly, the
Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. See
Rosati, 791 F.3d at 1039 (“A district court should
not dismiss a pro se complaint without leave to
amend unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of
the complaint could not be cured by amendment.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
plaintiff desires to pursue this action, he is ORDERED to
file a First Amended Complaint no later than thirty (30) days
after the date of this Order, remedying the deficiencies
discussed below. Further, plaintiff is admonished
that, if he fails to timely file a First Amended Complaint or
fails to remedy the deficiencies of this pleading as
discussed herein, the Court will recommend that this action
be dismissed without further leave to amend and with
Statute of Limitations
Complaint references incident dates in 1985, 1986, and 2013
(ECF No. 1 at 1, 3-4, 8.) It appears to the Court that
plaintiff's “Count 1” arises from events that
took place in 1985 or 1986 (id. at 3, 10, 21), and
that plaintiff's “Count 2” arises from events
that took place in 2013 (id. at 4, 11). Plaintiff
signed his Complaint on June 2, 2019. (Id. at 7,
civil rights claims brought pursuant to § 1983 are
subject to the forum state's statute of limitations
applicable to personal injury claims. See, e.g., Bird v.
Dep't of Human Servs., 935 F.3d 738, 743 (9th Cir.
2019) (citing Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276
(1985)). Federal civil rights claims arising in California
after 2003 are subject to the two-year limitations period set
forth in Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 335.1. See, e.g.,
Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 954-55 (9th Cir.
2004). Federal law, however, determines when a civil rights
claim accrues. See McDonough v. Smith, 139 S.Ct.
2149, 2155 (2019) (“the time at which a § 1983
claim accrues is a question of federal law” (internal
quotation marks omitted)). A cause of action typically
accrues under federal law as soon as a potential
“plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury
which is the basis of the action.” See Bird,
935 F.3d at 743.
addition, a federal court must give effect to a state's
tolling provisions. See Hardin v. Straub, 490 U.S.
536, 539 (1989). Under California law, the continuous
incarceration of a plaintiff is a disability that tolls the
statute of limitations for a maximum of two years.
See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 352.1; see,
e.g., Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 927 (9th Cir. 2004)
(California provides for statutory tolling for a period of up
to two years based on the disability of imprisonment);
Elliott v. City of Union City, 25 F.3d 800, 802 (9th
Cir. 1994). Such tolling is applicable only if a plaintiff
was imprisoned “at the time the claim accrued.”
Elliott, 25 F.3d at ...