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Sneed v. Kernan

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 12, 2019

SCOTT KERNAN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a California inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this federal civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently pending before the court is plaintiff's second amended complaint.

         I. 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).

         II. Procedural History

         This case was originally filed by plaintiff on June 8, 2017.[1] It was transferred to this court from the Northern District of California on October 2, 2017. ECF No. 9. The original complaint in this case consisted of almost 700 pages, including the exhibits. ECF No. 1. In the screening order dated February 1, 2018, plaintiff was advised to limit his complaint to a “short and plain statement” in accordance with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procure. Plaintiff also was cautioned against bringing unrelated claims against multiple defendants in a single lawsuit. ECF No. 19 at 3. As a result, the complaint was dismissed but plaintiff was granted leave to amend.

         After several extensions of time, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint which spanned 400 pages including exhibits. ECF No. 31. By order of October 22, 2018, the first amended complaint was dismissed for failing to heed the court's Rule 8 advisory and its warning against including unrelated claims and defendants. The court's screening order characterized the allegations as a “scattershot complaint.” ECF No. 40 at 2. Plaintiff was once again granted leave to amend his complaint. The court limited any second amended complaint to no more than 20 pages in length due to plaintiff's prior lack of compliance with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         III. Allegations in Complaint

         On March 3, 2019 plaintiff filed a second amended complaint which consisted of 35 pages. ECF No. 47. In his second amended complaint, plaintiff names 17 individual defendants including the prior director of the CDCR, as well as various medical and correctional staff at High Desert State Prison. The allegations in the complaint describe events that occurred between August 5, 2015 and August 8, 2017. With respect to the specific allegations in the second amended complaint, plaintiff includes claims concerning adequate medical care, prison conditions, lack of pay for his job as a prison porter, procedural due process violations at a prison disciplinary and classification hearing, excessive force, destruction of personal property, and retaliation claims. These claims are not related in time or type and do not concern any common question of law or fact common to all defendants.

         IV. Analysis

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint does not satisfy the pleading requirements delineated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, nor does it comply with this court's prior orders. Although the second amended complaint is not hundreds of pages in length like prior complaints, the allegations are no more plain or comprehensible as required by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has filed a confusing complaint that jumps from one random event to the next involving defendants ranging from the CDCR Director to health care staff and correctional officers. Despite two separate warnings in the prior screening orders, plaintiff has failed to comply with this court's page limitation as well as the prohibition against joining unrelated claims against numerous defendants in a single action. Plaintiff simply ignored the court's instructions to focus his complaint so that the court could properly screen it as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         Plaintiff has consistently failed to follow the court's orders with regard to amending the complaint, and therefore it is recommended that his second amended complaint be dismissed without leave to amend. “District courts have inherent power to control their dockets, ” Thompson v. Housing Auth., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986), and “may dismiss an action for failure to comply with any order of court, ” Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)).

In determining whether to dismiss a case for failure to comply with a court order the district court must weigh five factors including: “(1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic alternatives.

Id. at 1260-61 (quoting Thompson, 782 F.2d at 831; Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1423-24 (9th Cir. 1986)). The five-factor test is a balancing test, so not all five factors need to support dismissal for it to be found appropriate. Valley Eng'rs Inc. v. ...

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