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Bledsoe v. Guiliani

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 9, 2019

DONNELL BLEDSOE, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE GUILIANI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Plaintiff's Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis is Granted

         Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. Plaintiff has requested authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302(c)(21).

         Plaintiff has submitted the affidavit required by § 1915(a) showing that plaintiff is unable to prepay fees and costs or give security for them. Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

         The federal in forma pauperis statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally “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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations Against Sgt. Martinez are Vague and Conclusory and Plaintiff is Granted Leave to File an Amended Complaint as to Sgt. Martinez Only

         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.

         In order 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.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has 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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. 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, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         Plaintiff vaguely alleges he “suffered physical and mental abuse under cruel and unusual punishment” while on “23 hr lock down” with the lights on for 24 hours. (ECF No. 1 at 5.) It appears these allegations may pertain to defendant Sgt. Martinez's treatment of plaintiff. (See Id. at 3 (naming Sgt. Martinez with the San Joaquin County Jail as a defendant).) However, plaintiff also names five other defendants in his complaint: San Joaquin County Superior Court Judges Guiliani and Ronald Northup, district attorney Stacey Derman, San Joaquin County public defender Christina Martinez, and San Joaquin County Superior Court. Plaintiff attaches several exhibits to his complaint that pertain to a separate family law matter in the Superior Court of California San Joaquin County. (See ECF No. 1 at 8-19.) Plaintiff seeks $22 million in punitive damages for emotional distress. (Id. at 5.)

         The court finds the allegations in plaintiff's complaint regarding Sgt. Martinez are so vague and conclusory that it is unable to determine whether the current action is frivolous or fails to state a claim for relief. The court has determined that the complaint does not contain a short and plain statement as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Cmty. Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). Plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which defendant engaged in that support plaintiff's claim. Id. Because plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), the complaint must be dismissed. The court will, however, grant leave to file an amended complaint as to defendant Sgt. Martinez only.

         If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must set forth the jurisdictional grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Further, plaintiff must demonstrate how the conduct complained of has resulted in a deprivation of plaintiff's federal rights. See Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980).

         In addition, plaintiff is informed that the court cannot refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff's amended complaint complete. Local Rule 220 requires that an amended complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. This is because, as a general rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once plaintiff files an amended complaint, the original pleading no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently alleged.

         III. Recommendation That Plaintiff's Claims Against the Remaining Five Defendants be Dismissed Without Leave to Amend

         Plaintiff's allegations regarding the remaining five defendants are also vague and conclusory. However, as discussed below, these five defendants are immune from suit and ...


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