United States District Court, E.D. California
GEORGETTE G. PURNELL, Plaintiff,
R.T. MORA, et al., Defendants.
SCREENING ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN
AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOC. NO. 1)
BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Georgette G. Purnell (“Plaintiff”), proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this
action against Fresno County Police Officers R.T. Mora,
Hodge, N. Cruz, and B. Phelps (“Defendants”),
alleging violation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. Nos. 1, 5-6.) Plaintiff's complaint is
currently before the Court for screening.
Screening Requirement and Standard
Court screens complaints brought by litigants proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion
thereof, is subject to dismissal if it 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).
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)).
While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts
“are not required to indulge unwarranted
inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
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 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret
Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer
possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not
sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short
of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572
F.3d at 969.
complaint alleges that she was stopped by Officer R.T. Mora
while driving her car in Fresno, California on August 30,
2018. During the stop, Officer Mora questioned Plaintiff
regarding her license plate. In response, Plaintiff attempted
to produce documents from her vehicle purportedly showing
that another officer had recently informed her that she had
six months to take care of her registration and/or license
plate. Officer Mora “viciously” knocked her
documents from her hands and used a racial slur, indicating
that he did not want to see Plaintiff's documents.
Plaintiff alleges that Officer Mora then grabbed her arm and
“viciously twisted it to the point of . . .
excruciating pain” and Plaintiff cried out. Officers
Cruz, Phelps, and Hodge, as well as non-defendant Officer
Ruiz, were allegedly present during these events and did
nothing to stop Officer Mora. Paramedics were called and
Plaintiff was treated on the scene for a sprained arm.
Plaintiff alleges that she continues to feel pain in her arm
and has also experienced sleepless nights and loss of
appetite since the incident. The exhibits to the complaint
indicate that, at the time of the underlying incident,
Officer Cruz issued notices to appear to Plaintiff for
driving with an expired registration in violation of
California Vehicle Code § 4000(a)(1) and resisting
arrest in violation of California Penal Code § 148.
complaint sets forth claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of her “right to be free from excessive force
by law enforcement, ” her “right to be free from
racial insults, ” and “4th Amendment United
States Constitution Prohibition.” Plaintiff seeks
compensatory damages in the amount of one million dollars
from each Defendant, punitive damages in the amount of one
million dollars from each Defendant, as well as the
imposition of “necessary measures such as training to
ensure these illegal acts does not ever occur again.”
complaint fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8 and fails to state a cognizable claim. As
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, she will be granted leave to
amend her complaint to cure the identified deficiencies to
the extent she can do so in good faith. To assist Plaintiff,
the Court provides the pleading and legal standards that
appear relevant to her allegations.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
to Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
complaint or amended complaint must contain a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” 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. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649
(9th Cir.1984). While detailed allegations are not required,
a plaintiff must set forth “the grounds of his
entitlement to relief[, ]” which “requires more
than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action....”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
complaint is short but it is unclear which claim is asserted
against which Defendant. The complaint does not set forth the
factual basis for each of the asserted claims with respect to
each Defendant. Moreover, the nature of the claims Plaintiff
intends to pursue are unclear. For example, in example,
addition to her claim for violation of “the right to be
free from excessive force by law enforcement[, ]”
Plaintiff also alleges a violation of her rights under
“4th Amendment United States Constitution
Prohibition.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) It is not clear if
these claims are duplicative of each other or if Plaintiff
claims other unidentified Fourth Amendment rights were
violated beyond her right to be free from ...