Williams v. Callen et al

Filing 8

ORDER Striking Unsigned Complaint signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 02/12/2018. Amended Complaint due by 3/8/2018. (Attachments: # 1 Amended Complaint Form)(Flores, E)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CORRY WILLIAMS, 12 Plaintiff, 13 v. 14 CALLEN, et al., 15 Case No. 1:18-cv-00187-JLT (PC) ORDER STRIKING UNSIGNED COMPLAINT (Doc. 1) 21-DAY DEADLINE Defendants. 16 17 Corry Williams initiated this civil action on February 6, 2018. (Doc. 1.) However, it 18 appears that a few pages of the complaint, including the signature page, were not submitted. (Id.) 19 The Court cannot consider unsigned filings and the complaint shall be stricken from the record 20 for that reason. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 11; L. R. 131. Plaintiff has 21 days to file a signed complaint 21 and is hereby given both the pleading and legal standards which appear to apply to the claim(s) 22 that he is attempting to assert in this action. 23 A. Screening Requirement 24 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 25 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The 26 Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally 27 frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary 28 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2); 28 U.S.C. 1 1 § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). A complaint will be dismissed if it lacks a cognizable legal theory or fails 2 to allege sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police 3 Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). 4 5 B. Pleading Standards 1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) 6 “Rule 8(a)’s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited 7 exceptions,” none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 8 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). A complaint must contain “a short and plain 9 statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a). 10 “Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and 11 the grounds upon which it rests.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. 12 Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a 13 cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 14 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 15 Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim that is 16 plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual 17 allegations are accepted as true, but legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. 18 Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557. 19 While “plaintiffs [now] face a higher burden of pleadings facts . . . ,” Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 20 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir. 2009), the pleadings of pro se prisoners are still construed liberally 21 and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). 22 However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff’s factual allegations,” 23 Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989), “a liberal interpretation of a civil rights 24 complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled,” Bruns v. 25 Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 26 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982), and courts are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, 27 Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and 28 citation omitted). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, 2 1 and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability” fall short of satisfying the 2 plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. 3 If he chooses to file a second amended complaint, Plaintiff should endeavor to make it as 4 concise as possible. He should simply state which of his constitutional rights he feels were 5 violated by each Defendant and the factual basis. Where the allegations against two or more 6 Defendants are factually intertwined, Plaintiff need not repeat the factual allegations separately 7 against each Defendant. Rather, Plaintiff should present his factual allegations and identify the 8 Defendants he feels are thereby implicated. 9 10 2. Linkage Requirement The Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. ' 1983) requires that there be an actual connection or link 11 between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by 12 Plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 13 U.S. 362 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that “[a] person ‘subjects’ another to the deprivation 14 of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, 15 participates in another’s affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to 16 do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 17 (9th Cir. 1978). In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, Plaintiff must link each 18 named defendant with some affirmative act or omission that demonstrates a violation of 19 Plaintiff=s federal rights. 20 Plaintiff must clearly identify which Defendant(s) he feels are responsible for each 21 violation of his constitutional rights and their factual basis as his Complaint must put each 22 Defendant on notice of Plaintiff’s claims against him or her. See Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 23 1167, 1171 (9th Cir. 2004). 24 25 3. Exhibits The Court is not a repository for the parties’ evidence. Originals, or copies of evidence 26 (i.e., prison or medical records, witness affidavits, etc.) need not be submitted until the course of 27 litigation brings the evidence into question (for example, on a motion for summary judgment, at 28 trial, or when requested by the Court). If Plaintiff attaches exhibits to his amended complaint, 3 1 each exhibit must be specifically referenced. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 10(c). For example, Plaintiff must 2 state “see Exhibit A” or something similar in order to direct the Court to the specific exhibit 3 Plaintiff is referencing. Further, if the exhibit consists of more than one page, Plaintiff must 4 reference the specific page of the exhibit (i.e. “See Exhibit A, page 3”). 5 At this point, the submission of evidence is premature as Plaintiff is only required to state 6 a prima facie claim for relief. Plaintiff is reminded that, for screening purposes, the Court must 7 assume that Plaintiff’s factual allegations are true. It is unnecessary for a plaintiff to submit 8 exhibits in support of the allegations in a complaint. 9 10 11 12 13 D. Legal Standards 1. Excessive Force The Eighth Amendment prohibits those who operate our prisons from using “excessive physical force against inmates.” Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 130 S.Ct. 1175, 1178 (2010) (per curiam); Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8-9, 112 S.Ct. 995 (1992); Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 14 1237, 1246, 1250 (9th Cir.1982) (prison officials have “a duty to take reasonable steps to protect 15 inmates from physical abuse”); see also Vaughan v. Ricketts, 859 F.2d 736, 741 (9th Cir.1988), 16 cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1012 (1989) (“prison administrators’ indifference to brutal behavior by 17 guards toward inmates [is] sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim”). As courts have 18 succinctly observed, “[p]ersons are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment.” Gordon v. 19 Faber, 800 F.Supp. 797, 800 (N.D. Iowa 1992) (citation omitted), aff=d, 973 F.2d 686 (8th 20 Cir.1992). “Being violently assaulted in prison is simply not part of the penalty that criminal 21 offenders pay for their offenses against society.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) 22 (internal citation and quotation omitted). 23 When a prison official stands accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the 24 cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment, the question turns on “whether 25 force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and 26 sadistically for the purpose of causing harm.” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7 (1992) (citing Whitley v. 27 Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986)). In determining whether the use of force was wanton and 28 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 unnecessary, it is proper to consider factors such as the need for application of force, the relationship between the need and the amount of force used, the threat reasonably perceived by the responsible officials, and any efforts made to temper the severity of the forceful response. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7. The extent of a prisoner’s injury is also a factor that may suggest whether the use of force could plausibly have been thought necessary in a particular situation. Id. Although the absence of serious injury is relevant to the Eighth Amendment inquiry, it is not determinative. Id. That is, use of excessive physical force against a prisoner may constitute cruel and unusual punishment even though the prisoner does not suffer serious injury. Id. at 9. 2. Due Process The Due Process Clause protects prisoners from being deprived of liberty without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). In order to state a cause of action for deprivation of due process, a plaintiff must first establish the existence of a liberty interest for 13 which the protection is sought. AStates may under certain circumstances create liberty interests 14 which are protected by the Due Process Clause.@ Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995). 15 Liberty interests created by state law are generally limited to freedom from restraint which 16 Aimposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of 17 prison life.@ Id. 515 U.S. at 484. 18 APrison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and the full 19 panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply.@ Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556. 20 With respect to prison disciplinary proceedings, the minimum procedural requirements that must 21 be met are: (1) written notice of the charges; (2) at least 24 hours between the time the prisoner 22 receives written notice and the time of the hearing, so that the prisoner may prepare his defense; 23 (3) a written statement by the fact finders of the evidence they rely on and reasons for taking 24 disciplinary action; (4) the right of the prisoner to call witnesses and present documentary 25 evidence in his defense, when permitting him to do so would not be unduly hazardous to 26 institutional safety or correctional goals; and (5) legal assistance to the prisoner where the 27 prisoner is illiterate or the issues presented are legally complex. Id. at 563-71. Confrontation and 28 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 cross examination are not generally required. Id. at 567. As long as the five minimum Wolff requirements are met, due process has been satisfied. Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1420 (9th Cir. 1994). AWhen prison officials limit a prisoner=s right to defend himself they must have a legitimate penological interest.@ Koenig v. Vannelli, 971 F.2d 422, 423 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (concluding that prisoners do not have a right to have an independent drug test performed at their own expense). The right to call witnesses may legitimately be limited by Athe penological need to provide swift discipline in individual cases . . . [or] by the very real dangers in prison life which may result from violence or intimidation directed at either other inmates or staff.@ Ponte v. Real, 471 U.S. 491, 495 (1985); see also Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 525 (9th Cir. 1996); Koenig, 971 F.2d at 423; Zimmerlee v. Keeney, 831 F.2d 183, 187-88 (9th Cir. 1987)(per curiam). A[T]he requirements of due process are satisfied if some evidence supports the decision by 13 the prison disciplinary board . . . .@ Hill, 472 U.S. at 455; see also Touissaint v. McCarthy, 926 14 F.2d 800, 802-03 (9th Cir. 1991); Bostic v. Carlson, 884 F.2d 1267, 1269-70 (9th Cir. 1989); 15 Jancsek, III v. Oregon Bd. of Parole, 833 F.2d 1389, 1390 (9th Cir. 1987); Cato v. Rushen, 824 16 F.2d 703, 705 (9th Cir. 1987); see especially Burnsworth v. Gunderson, 179 F.3d 771, 774-74 17 (9th Cir. 1999) (where there is no evidence of guilt may be unnecessary to demonstrate existence 18 of liberty interest.) The relevant inquiry is whether Athere is any evidence in the record that could 19 support the conclusion reached . . . @ as A[t]he Federal Constitution does not require evidence that 20 logically precludes any conclusion but the one reached by the disciplinary board.@ 21 57 (emphasis added). 22 23 3. Hill at 455- Supervisory Liability Supervisory personnel are generally not liable under section 1983 for the actions of their 24 employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a 25 supervisory position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be 26 specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 27 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 941 (1979). To state a claim for relief 28 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 under section 1983 based on a theory of supervisory liability, Plaintiff must allege some facts that would support a claim that supervisory defendants either: personally participated in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights; knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them; or promulgated or “implemented a policy so deficient that the policy ‘itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights’ and is ‘the moving force of the constitutional violation.’” Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal citations omitted); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Under section 1983, liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677. “In a § 1983 suit or a Bivens action - where masters do not answer for the torts of their servants - the term ‘supervisory liability’ is a misnomer.” Id. Knowledge and acquiescence of a subordinate’s misconduct is insufficient to establish liability; each government official is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Id. “‘[B]are assertions . . . amount[ing] to nothing more than a “formulaic recitation of the 14 elements” of a constitutional discrimination claim,= for the purposes of ruling on a motion to 15 dismiss [and thus also for screening purposes], are not entitled to an assumption of truth.” Moss, 16 572 F.3d at 969 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 1951 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)). “Such 17 allegations are not to be discounted because they are ‘unrealistic or nonsensical,’ but rather 18 because they do nothing more than state a legal conclusion B even if that conclusion is cast in the 19 form of a factual allegation.” Id. Thus, any allegation that supervisory personnel, such as that a 20 sergeant is somehow liable solely based on the acts of those under his or her supervision does not 21 state a cognizable claim. 22 23 D. Order Accordingly, the Court ORDERS: 24 1. Plaintiff’s complaint is stricken from the record for lack of signature; 25 2. The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff a civil rights complaint form; 26 3. Within 21-days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff must file a signed 27 complaint; and 28 7 1 4. The failure to comply with this order will result in recommendation that this 2 action be dismissed. 3 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 12, 2018 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 8

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