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Hampton v. State

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 4, 2019

JONATHON ANDREW HAMPTON, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges his rights were violated during his 2009 criminal trial and requests immediate release from custody. Presently before the court is plaintiff's application for expedited review (ECF No. 13), motion to stay (ECF No. 20), application for class certification (ECF No. 23), motion to amend, and his amended complaint for screening (ECF No. 14). For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant the motion to amend, deny the application for expedited review, recommend that the motions for stay and for class certification be denied, and recommend that the amended complaint be dismissed without leave to amend.

         MOTION TO AMEND

         Plaintiff has filed a motion to amend the complaint, along with a proposed amended complaint. (ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff requests to amend the complaint because he has determined that he should have named the County of Sacramento instead of the California Department of Justice. Because the complaint has not yet been served, the court will grant the motion to amend and screen the proposed amended complaint below.

         Plaintiff also included a request to proceed under a pseudonym in his motion to amend. (ECF No. 14 at 1.) “The normal presumption in litigation is that parties must use their real names.” Doe v. Kamehameha Schools/Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, 596 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2010); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a) (“[t]he title of the complaint must name all the parties”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a)(1) (“An action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest.”). Nevertheless, many federal courts, including the Ninth Circuit, have permitted parties to proceed anonymously when special circumstances justify secrecy.” Does I thru XXIII v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1067 (9th Cir. 2000).

         “In order to proceed anonymously, a plaintiff must show both (1) a fear of severe harm, and (2) that the fear of severe harm is reasonable.” Kamehameha, 596 F.3d at 1043. “Examples of areas where courts have allowed pseudonyms include cases involving abortion, birth control, transexuality, mental illness, welfare rights of illegitimate children, AIDS, and homosexuality.” Doe v. Megless, 654 F.3d 404, 408 (3rd Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted).

         Plaintiff has cited only a discovery of his right to privacy in support of his request. Accordingly, the court finds that he has not made the showing required to proceed anonymously in this action and will deny his request to proceed under a pseudonym.

         SCREENING

         I. Legal Standards

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) & (2).

         A claim is legally frivolous when 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). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (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 that “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.” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. 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 Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), 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).

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). “A person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

         Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the ...


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