United States District Court, E.D. California
SCREENING ORDER FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY
DAYS ECF NO. 1
Kenneth Davis is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel
in this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff's complaint, ECF No. 1, is before the
court for screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff
alleges that, during an altercation with another prisoner,
defendant Speth shot him in the head with a “sponge
round, ” causing brain injuries. ECF No. 1 at 3.
Plaintiff lists nine prison officials as defendants,
the actions of defendant Speth are the only ones described in
the complaint, and plaintiff's description of Speth's
actions lacks details needed to state a claim. See
id. I thus find that the complaint fails to state a
claim, though I give plaintiff leave to file an amended
complaint within 30 days.
AND PLEADING REQUIREMENTS
federal court must screen a prisoner's complaint that
seeks relief against a governmental entity, officer, or
employee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court
must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any portion
of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
complaint must contain a short and plain statement that
plaintiff is entitled to relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and
provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plausibility
standard does not require detailed allegations, but legal
conclusions do not suffice. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the allegations “do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, ” the complaint states no claim.
Id. at 679. The complaint need not identify “a
precise legal theory.” Kobold v. Good Samaritan
Reg'l Med. Ctr., 832 F.3d 1024, 1038 (9th Cir.
2016). Instead, what plaintiff must state is a
“claim”-a set of “allegations that give
rise to an enforceable right to relief.” Nagrampa
v. MailCoups, Inc., 469 F.3d 1257, 1264 n.2 (9th Cir.
2006) (en banc) (citations omitted).
court must construe a pro se litigant's complaint
liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972) (per curiam). The court may dismiss a pro se
litigant's complaint “if it appears beyond doubt
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of
his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Hayes
v. Idaho Corr. Ctr., 849 F.3d 1204, 1208 (9th Cir.
2017). However, “‘a liberal interpretation of a
civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of
the claim that were not initially pled.'” Bruns
v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257
(9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673
F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).
1983 allows a private citizen to sue for the deprivation of a
right secured by federal law. See 42 U.S.C. §
1983; Manuel v. City of Joliet, Ill., 137 S.Ct. 911,
916 (2017). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff
must show that a defendant acting under color of state law
caused an alleged deprivation of a right secured by federal
law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Soo Park v.
Thompson, 851 F.3d 910, 921 (9th Cir. 2017). The
plaintiff can satisfy the causation requirement by showing
either (1) the defendant's “personal
involvement” in the alleged deprivation or (2) a
“sufficient causal connection” between the
defendant's conduct as a supervisor and the alleged
deprivation. See King v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 885
F.3d 548, 559 (9th Cir. 2018).
has failed to satisfy the causation requirement for all
defendants other than defendant Speth. The actions of these
defendants are simply not described in plaintiff's
complaint. Thus, I can infer no personal connection to any
alleged deprivation of rights.
Speth, on the other hand, is a state-prison employee who,
accepting plaintiff's allegations as true, can be
inferred to have acted under color of state law. See
Paeste v. Gov't of Guam, 798 F.3d 1228, 1238 (9th
Cir. 2015) (“[G]enerally, a public employee acts under
color of state law while acting in his official capacity or
while exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state
law.” (quoting West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 50
Plaintiff's allegations against defendant Speth are vague
and lack details needed to state an excessive-force Eighth
Amendment claim. The core inquiry in this context is
“whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Wilkins v. Gaddy,
559 U.S. 34, 37 (2010) (per curiam); see also Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992). Even deadly force
against an inmate may be constitutionally defensible under
some circumstances. See Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S.
312, 326 (1986) (holding that shooting an inmate to restore
prison security during a riot did not violate the Eighth
plaintiff alleges nothing to suggest that the force used was
not needed or that less force could have been used under
these circumstances. Plaintiff alleges solely (in just a few
short sentences) that defendant Speth shot him with a
“sponge round” while plaintiff was engaged in a
physical altercation with another prisoner. ECF No. 1 at 3.
If plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, he should add
factual allegations regarding the circumstances of the
screened plaintiff's complaint and find that it fails to
state a cognizable claim against any defendant. Plaintiff may
file an amended complaint if he wishes to proceed with this
suit. An amended complaint would need to allege what each
defendant did and why those actions violated plaintiff's
constitutional rights. If plaintiff fails to amend his
complaint within thirty days, I will issue findings and
recommendations that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed
for the reasons stated in this order.
plaintiff choose to amend the complaint,  the amended
complaint should be brief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), but must state
what actions each named defendant took that deprived
plaintiff of constitutional or other federal rights. See
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Jones v. Williams, 297
F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff must set forth
“sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Plaintiff must allege that each defendant
personally participated in the deprivation of his rights.
See Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. Plaintiff should note
that a short, concise statement in which the allegations are