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Struggs v. Pfeiffer

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 20, 2019

CEDRIC LYNN STRUGGS, Plaintiff,
v.
C. PFEIFFER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF RULE 8(a), WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 1.) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT NOT EXCEEDING 25 PAGES

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Cedric Lynn Struggs (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On September 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has paid the $400.00 filing fee in full. (ECF No. 7.)

         On September 25, 2019, the court screened the Complaint and dismissed it for failure to state a claim and for violation of Rule 18 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, with leave to amend. (ECF No. 16.) On November 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint which is now before the court for screening. (ECF No. 20.) 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The 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 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. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). “Notwithstanding 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).

         A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). 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 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, 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). To state a viable claim, Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in Delano, California, where the events at issue in the Complaint allegedly occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants: Correctional Officer (C/O) J. Hightower, Lieutenant C. Waddle, Sergeant (Sgt.) J. Anderson, Sgt. R. Chanelo, C. Gonzales (Appeals Coordinator), and R. Santillan (SnE Officer), (collectively “Defendants”).

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint is 42 pages long and violates Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

         Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, none of which apply to § 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). Under federal notice pleading, a complaint is required to 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 defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. The federal rules contemplate brevity. See Galbraith v. County of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1119, 1125 (9th Cir. 2002) (noting that “nearly all of the circuits have now disapproved any heightened pleading standard in cases other than those governed by Rule 9(b)”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 84; cf. Rule 9(b) (setting forth rare exceptions to simplified pleading). Rule 8 requires Plaintiff to set forth his claims in short and plain terms, simply, concisely and directly. See Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 514 (“Rule 8(a) is the starting point of a simplified pleading system, which was adopted to focus litigation on the merits of a claim.”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. The Court (and each defendant) should be able to read and understand Plaintiff's pleading within minutes. McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir. 1996).

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to comport with Rule 8(a)'s requirement for “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Plaintiff's lengthy narrative does not clearly or succinctly allege facts against the named Defendants. The complaint itself begins with an introduction discussing what the First Amended Complaint will show. Next, Plaintiff sets forth lengthy allegations. Finally, Plaintiff addresses each of the Defendants in turn, with multiple requests for jury trial. Plaintiff also includes a prayer for relief for each of the Defendants.

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint shall be dismissed for violation of Rule 8(a), with leave to file a Second Amended Complaint not exceeding 25 pages in length. The total number of pages, including the form complaint and any exhibits, must not exceed 25 pages. If typewritten, the body of the First Amended Complaint must be double-spaced. If handwritten, the Complaint must be legible and written in reasonably-sized handwriting. Twenty-five pages is more than sufficient for Plaintiff to identify his claims and set forth specific facts in support of those claims.

         The Second Amended Complaint does not require an introduction or any discussion of the law. Plaintiff's allegations should include facts explaining what happened, when the events happened, and what each Defendant personally did to violate Plaintiff's rights. Although not required, the court recommends that Plaintiff state the facts in chronological order. Plaintiff should only include one request for jury trial and one prayer for relief, applicable to all of the Defendants and claims.

         In the paragraphs that follow, the court provides the legal standards for the claims it appears Plaintiff wishes to bring. Plaintiff is advised to review the standards before deciding ...


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