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Arroyos v. Moreno

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 23, 2019

ALFRED ARROYOS, Plaintiff,
v.
SALLY MORENO, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSING ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH A COURT ORDER, AND FAILURE TO PROSECUTE (ECF NOS. 1, 5)

         Plaintiff Alfred Arroyos (“Plaintiff”) is an incarcerated individual proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. Plaintiff's complaint in this action was filed on November 5, 2019. (ECF No. 1.) On November 18, 2019, a screening order was filed finding that Plaintiff had failed to state a cognizable claim. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff was granted thirty days in which to file an amended complaint. (Id.)

         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 on which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         A complaint must 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)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         The Court accepts Plaintiff's allegations in the complaint as true only for the purpose of the sua sponte screening requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         In the caption page, Plaintiff names the Madera District Attorney, Madera Superior Court, and Madera County Adult Probation as defendants in this action, apparently referring to the entities as a whole. (Compl. 1, ECF No. 1.)[1] Plaintiff then names the following individual defendants in this action: (1) Sally Moreno, identified as the District Attorney for the County of Madera; (2) Mitchell Rigby, identified as a judge for the Madera County Superior Court; (3) Dale Blea, identified as a judge for the Madera County Superior Court; (4) Jose Pantoja, identified as a Deputy Chief Probation Officer at Madera County Adult Probation; (5) Cristen Aganza, identified as a probation officer at Madera County Adult Probation; and (6) Abel Perez, identified as a probation officer at Madera County Adult Probation. (Compl. 2-3.)

         A. Claim One for Illegal Sentence

         Plaintiff complains he was subject to an illegal sentence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 3456(a)(3). (Compl. 4.) On July 26, 2019, he was arrested for violation of post-release community supervision and on August 13, 2019, he was sentenced to 180 days for failing to report in compliance with California Penal Code Section 3455(b)(1). (Id.) On September 17, 2019, Plaintiff's defense counsel petitioned the state court to recall the sentence for lack of jurisdiction. (Id.) Plaintiff states that according to the petition for revocation of community supervision in case no. MCR058346, Plaintiff was placed on supervision on November 28, 2016, and his first alleged violation occurred on January 10, 2018. (Id.) According to all previous revocation petitions, Plaintiff did not have any violations or other infractions before January 10, 2018, and thus argues each defendant lacked jurisdiction over his person. (Id.) Plaintiff also references a petition to revoke an illegal sentence filed in the state court action by his defense counsel. (Id.) Plaintiff states a petition was granted by Judge Dale Blea.[2] Plaintiff claims he was injured by false imprisonment, defamation of character, and suffered other collateral damages. (Id.) Plaintiff states he did not seek a request for administrative relief due to inadequacy of access to legal assistance. (Id.)

         B. Claim Two for False Imprisonment

         On November 28, 2016, Plaintiff was released on community supervision, and states on December 28, 2017, he was supposed to have been discharged from supervision. (Compl. 5.) Plaintiff advised his first probation officer, Defendant Abel Perez, and his second probation officer, Cristen Aganza, that Plaintiff should have already been discharged due to thirteen (13) months of good conduct. (Compl. 5, 10.) Plaintiff claims that both probation officers advised Plaintiff that he had to complete three (3) years of supervision because he was a high-risk offender, however, Plaintiff claims the nature of his previous conviction was not a violent offense and that was actually why he was on community supervision and not on parole. (Id.) Plaintiff states that all defendants and everyone within their institutions are responsible for violating his personal liberty and causing his confinement whether directly or indirectly, because all defendants had no jurisdiction over Plaintiff after December 28, 2017, when supervision should have been terminated. (Id.) Plaintiff states that the Madera Superior Court and the Madera District Attorney upheld each conviction after January 10, 2018, leading to confinement, and the Madera County Adult Probation held Plaintiff to terms and conditions under their jurisdiction when they had no right to do so. (Id.) As for injury, Plaintiff states that while confined in Madera County Jail, he was constantly harassed by the Madera Probation officers and the Madera Police Department, which endangered his well-being as well as the safety and security of his family members, and caused him loss of employment, and emotional damages. Plaintiff states he did not seek a request for administrative relief due to inadequacy of access to legal assistance. (Id.)

         C. Claim Three for Deliberate Indifference to Right to Justice

         Plaintiff claims that each defendant, individually and in their official capacities, violated his constitutional and civil rights by imposing judgments that were defective for lack of jurisdiction. (Compl. 6.) Plaintiff states that the extreme negligence and deliberate indifference of the defendants caused the Plaintiff's harm and suffering. (Id.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that while in custody because of the supervised release violation, in the maximum-security module, Plaintiff was assaulted and brutally beaten while he showered by multiple inmates. (Id.) Plaintiff was dragged out of the shower and the inmates continued to beat him. (Id.) Plaintiff states that three of the inmates are currently being prosecuted for murder. (Id.) Plaintiff needed a staple to the top of his skull, had extreme swelling to the face and head, had black eyes, and injured lips. (Id.) Plaintiff also seems to allege defendants jeopardized the safety and security of himself and family, that he was harassed at work, and suffered loss of employment and wages due to these forms of judicial abuse. (Id.) Plaintiff states he did not seek a request for administrative relief due to inadequacy of access to legal assistance. (Id.)

         In an attached declaration, Plaintiff also avers to harassment by Madera County Probation officers, Madera County police officers, and states this was “especially” done by Madera Gang Task Force officers Gonzalez, and Ryan Vasquez, by utilizing supervised release terms and conditions. (Compl. 12-13.) Plaintiff does not name any of these officers in his complaint.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim in the action for the reasons stated herein. Given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court shall outline the applicable legal standards and grant Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint to address the deficiencies discussed below.

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8

         Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must 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 the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). This is because, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. Therefore, Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' 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, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The pleadings of pro se prisoners are construed liberally and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In this case, while Plaintiff has alleged some specific factual allegations, a number of Plaintiff's allegations amount to no more than generalized conclusions that Defendants violated his rights that are unsupported by any facts, and Plaintiff fails to plead any facts concerning actions of a number of named defendants. For example, Plaintiff's complaint only contains allegations as to three of the six individually named defendants in the body of the complaint, does not refer to any specific individual defendant in claim number three, and repeatedly makes general conclusory statements as to why each defendant has violated his rights without specifically describing how those defendants did so.

         Where Plaintiff does make reference to specific individuals, the factual details are lacking. For example, Plaintiff's only reference to Defendant Judge Dale Blea states that he granted a petition in state court. (Compl. 4.)[3] Plaintiff's only other references to individual defendants in the body of the complaint concern Defendants Cristen Aganza and Abel Perez, Plaintiff's first and second probation officers. As to these defendants, Plaintiff only alleges that he informed them that he should no longer be on probation due to thirteen months of good conduct, that he had been classified incorrectly, and that these defendants disagreed, incorrectly stating he was a high-risk offender. (Compl. 5, 10.) These officers then appear to have been involved in petitions for revocation of probation based on violations during this time period.

         Plaintiff's conclusory statements do not suffice to state a claim against Defendants Sally Moreno, Mitchell Rigby, Dale Blea, or Jose Pantoja. Further, while Plaintiff does provide some factual detail concerning what Defendants Cristen Aganza and Abel Perez did, there is not enough detail for the Court to reasonably infer that any conduct would constitute a constitutional violation or whether these defendants would be subject to immunity, as discussed below.

         Further, as currently pled, Plaintiff's complaint does not contain enough factual content to “give the defendant[s] fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests[.]” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Since Plaintiff fails to identify which specific defendants are referred to when he repeatedly refers to “Defendants, ” Plaintiff's complaint fails to give fair notice of all of the allegations and claims directed against each separately named defendant. Gauvin v. Trombatore, 682 F.Supp. 1067, 1071 (N.D. Cal. 1988) (“Plaintiff must allege the basis of his claim against each defendant to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2)[.]” (italics added)); see also Van Dyke Ford, Inc. v. Ford Motor ...


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