Hubbard v. Corcoran State Prison et al

Filing 8

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 1 ), Amended Complaint Due Within Thirty (30) Days, signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng on 2/3/2014. First Amended Complaint due by 3/10/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Complaint filed 9.9.13, # 2 Amended Complaint Form)(Fahrney, E)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 ZANE HUBBARD, 14 Plaintiff, 15 16 CASE NO. 1:13-cv-01511-AWI-MJS ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND v. (ECF NO. 1) CORCORAN STATE PRISON, et al., 17 AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS Defendants. 18 19 SCREENING ORDER 20 I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY 21 Plaintiff Zane Hubbard, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, 22 filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 9, 2013. (ECF 23 No. 1.) His complaint is now before the Court for screening. 24 II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT 25 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief 26 against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 27 § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has 28 1 1 raised claims that are legally “frivolous, malicious,” or that fail to state a claim upon which 2 relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from 3 such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion 4 thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court 5 determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may 6 be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 7 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that 8 the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations 9 are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, 10 supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 11 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). 12 Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to „state a claim that is 13 plausible on its face.‟” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility 14 that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as 15 true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50. 16 III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT 17 The Complaint identifies the following Defendants: (1) Corcoran State Prison; (2) 18 Hirachetta, Correctional Officer (CO); (3) Chavez, CO; (4) CSPC Mailroom; (5) Kern 19 County Jail; (6) Wasco State Prison; (7) L. Vasquez, Mailroom Inspector; (8) Warden; 20 and (9) R. Godwin, Captain. 21 The Complaint is a fragmented series of factual allegations punctuated with 22 numerous legal conclusion. At one point Plaintiff asserts that various correctional 23 officials have violated each of the first fourteen amendments to the Constitution to the 24 extent they apply to Plaintiff‟s federal rights in prison. (Compl. at 9.) Plaintiff complains 25 about prison officials‟ conduct in the mailroom, his being validated as a gang member, 26 his conditions of confinement, a tracking device implanted in his body, the inmate appeal 27 process, a brainwashing program, and his being tortured for his Luciferian beliefs. 28 2 1 IV. ANALYSIS 2 A. Section 1983 3 Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the „deprivation of any rights, 4 privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws‟ of the United States.” 5 Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass‟n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). 6 Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for 7 vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 8 (1989). 9 To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 10 elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was 11 violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the 12 color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda 13 Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987). 14 B. 15 Pursuant to Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint or 16 amended complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that 17 the pleader is entitled to relief.” Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading 18 policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and 19 succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). 20 Failure to State a Claim The Court cannot begin to evaluate the viability of Plaintiff‟s claims because his 21 allegations are not presented in any sort of logical, understandable narrative. 22 Complaint rambles through a list of grievances that are not fully explained or clearly 23 distinguished one from the other. Instead of addressing each individual claim, identifying 24 the parties involved, and describing the particular events givng rise to that claim and the 25 date of each, Plaintiff simply makes broad contentions that various prison officials have 26 violated numerous constitutional rights. Without a chronological, factual, and legal 27 context for each individual and successive claim, the court cannot identify any potentially 28 cognizable claim. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. 3 The 1 As pled, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim. The Court will grant Plaintiff an 2 opportunity to amend. Should he choose to amend, Plaintiff must describe each 3 purported claim plainly and succinctly in chronological order, i.e. what happened, when, 4 which Defendant was involved, and how the conduct contributed to a violation of 5 Plaintiff‟s rights. The Court will not sift through disconnected allegations to construct a 6 claim. 7 In his amended complaint, Plaintiff must establish legal liability of each person or 8 entity for the claimed violation of his rights. Claims against multiple Defendants must 9 arise out of common events and contain common questions of law or fact. 10 The following sections of this order provide a more detailed description of the 11 basic legal standards for asserting a § 1983 claim. (Further guidance as to the elements 12 of, and criteria for asserting, particular types of claims can not be provided at this time 13 because the court can not yet even envison what type of claim(s) Plaintiff may wish to 14 pursue.) 15 C. Linkage Requirement 16 Under § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally 17 participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th 18 Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a 19 plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 20 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting 21 this plausibility standard. Id. 22 The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the 23 actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by the 24 plaintiff. 25 Government officials may not be held liable for the actions of their subordinates under a 26 theory of respondeat superior. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1948. Since a government official 27 cannot be held liable under a theory of vicarious liability in § 1983 actions, Plaintiff must 28 plead sufficient facts showing that the official has violated the Constitution through his 4 See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). 1 own individual actions. Id. at 1948. In other words, to state a claim for relief under § 2 1983, Plaintiff must link each named defendant with some affirmative act or omission 3 that demonstrates a violation of Plaintiff's federal rights. 4 D. Proper Joinder of Multiple Claims and Defendants 5 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) states that “[a] party asserting a claim, 6 counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or as alternative 7 claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” “Thus multiple claims 8 against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined 9 with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different 10 defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple 11 claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the 12 required filing fees - for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of 13 frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required 14 fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). 15 The fact that claims are premised on the same type of constitutional violation(s) 16 (e.g. retaliation) against multiple defendants does not make them factually related. 17 Claims are related when they are based on the same precipitating event or on a series of 18 related events caused by the same precipitating event. 19 multiple defendants belong in different suits. See id. 20 Unrelated claims involving Rule 18(a) allows multiple claims against a single party. However, naming 21 multiple defendants is limited by the requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 20(a)(2) that the right to relief arise out of common events and contain common 23 questions of law or fact. 24 V. CONCLUSION AND ORDER 25 Plaintiff‟s Complaint does not state a claim for relief. The Court will grant Plaintiff 26 an opportunity to file an amended complaint. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 27 (9th Cir. 1987). If Plaintiff opts to amend, he must demonstrate that the alleged acts 28 resulted in a deprivation of his constitutional rights. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1948-49. Plaintiff 5 1 must set forth “sufficient factual matter . . . to „state a claim that is plausible on its face.‟” 2 Id. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must also demonstrate 3 that each named Defendant personally participated in a deprivation of his rights. Jones 4 v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). 5 Plaintiff should note that although he has been given the opportunity to amend, it 6 is not for the purposes of adding new claims. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th 7 Cir. 2007). Plaintiff should carefully read this Screening Order and focus his efforts on 8 curing the deficiencies set forth above. 9 Finally, Plaintiff is advised that Local Rule 220 requires that an amended 10 complaint be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. As a general 11 rule, an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 12 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once an amended complaint is filed, the original complaint 13 no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an 14 original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be 15 sufficiently alleged. The amended complaint should be clearly and boldly titled “First 16 Amended Complaint,” refer to the appropriate case number, and be an original signed 17 under penalty of perjury. Plaintiff's amended complaint should be brief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 18 8(a). Although accepted as true, the “[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a 19 right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations 20 omitted). 21 Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 22 1. 23 24 25 26 The Clerk‟s Office shall send Plaintiff (1) a blank civil rights complaint form and (2) a copy of his Complaint, filed September 9, 2013; 2. Plaintiff‟s Complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; 3. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days; and 27 28 6 1 4. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, 2 the Court will recommend that this be dismissed, with prejudice, for failure to state a 3 claim and failure to comply with a court order. 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 3, 2014 /s/ 7 Michael J. Seng UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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