(PS) Barraza v. Production Framing Inc. et al

Filing 3

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Allison Claire on 9/7/2021 GRANTING Plaintiffs request to proceed in forma pauperis 2 ; and Plaintiff shall have 30 days from the date of this order to file an AMENDED COMPLAINT that complies with the instructions given above. If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this order, the undersigned may recommend that this action be dismissed.(Becknal, R)

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Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 1 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MATTHEW BARRAZA, 12 13 14 15 No. 2:21-cv-01562 KJM AC PS Plaintiff, v. ORDER PRODUCTION FRAMING, INC., et al., Defendants. 16 17 Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. The matter was accordingly referred to the 18 undersigned by E.D. Cal. 302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to proceed in forma 19 pauperis (“IFP”), and has submitted the affidavit required by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. 20 § 1915(a)(1). The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be granted. 21 22 I. SCREENING The federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally 23 “frivolous or malicious,” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks 24 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 25 Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether or not the complaint is frivolous, by drafting 26 the complaint so that it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). 27 The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are available online at www.uscourts.gov/rules- 28 policies/current-rules-practice-procedure/federal-rules-civil-procedure. 1 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 2 of 7 1 Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint must contain (1) a “short and 2 plain statement” of the basis for federal jurisdiction (that is, the reason the case is filed in this 3 court, rather than in a state court), (2) a short and plain statement showing that plaintiff is entitled 4 to relief (that is, who harmed the plaintiff, and in what way), and (3) a demand for the relief 5 sought. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Plaintiff’s claims must be set forth simply, concisely and directly. 6 Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(1). Forms are available to help pro se plaintiffs organize their complaint in 7 the proper way. They are available at the Clerk’s Office, 501 I Street, 4th Floor (Rm. 4-200), 8 Sacramento, CA 95814, or online at www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms. 9 A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. 10 Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the 11 court will (1) accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they 12 are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the 13 plaintiff, and (3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff’s favor. See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von 14 Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. 15 denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011). 16 The court applies the same rules of construction in determining whether the complaint 17 states a claim on which relief can be granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (court 18 must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must 19 construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff). Pro se pleadings are held to a 20 less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 21 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable 22 inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 23 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not suffice 24 to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 25 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 26 To state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege enough facts “to 27 state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has 28 facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the 2 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 3 of 7 1 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 2 678.  A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity 3 to amend, unless the complaint’s deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Noll v. 4 Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987), superseded on other grounds by statute as stated in 5 Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir.2000)) (en banc). 6 A. The Complaint 7 Plaintiff sues his former employer, Production Framing Inc., and individuals Doyle 8 Hendrick, Jose Hernandez, and Scott Bergst. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff checks the box on the 9 form complaint indicating that the basis for his lawsuit is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 10 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. ECF No. 1 at 4. Under “other federal law” 11 plaintiff writes “discrimination retaliation.” Id. When prompted to identify the discriminatory 12 conduct at issue, plaintiff listed termination of employment, failure to promote, failure to 13 accommodate his disability, unequal terms and conditions of employment, and retaliation. Id. at 14 5. The discriminatory acts took place July 15, 2019. Id. Plaintiff alleges he was discriminated 15 against based on his race, color, national origin, and disability, though he does not identify what 16 his race, color, national origin, or disability are. Id. 17 The body of plaintiff’s complaint states that he was terminated from employment based on 18 his disability and in retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation on or about July 15, 19 2019. Id. at 6. Plaintiff states he provided a medical note to his employer releasing him to return 20 to work, but he did not receive a response. Id. On August 6, 2019, plaintiff was told he was 21 terminated because he did not sign a waiver that was part of his employment packet, but he was 22 not informed of the document upon his hiring. Id. Plaintiff alleges his termination was pretext 23 for discrimination in retaliation for requesting an employment accommodation. Id. Plaintiff also 24 believes it was pretext for retaliation for reporting racial harassment to his supervisor, Jose 25 Hernandez. Id. Plaintiff seeks one million dollars in damages. Id. at 8. 26 B. Analysis 27 Plaintiff’s complaint, as drafted, does not provide enough information for the court to 28 determine whether plaintiff can state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 3 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 4 of 7 1 To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII, the plaintiff must show: 2 “(1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was qualified for his position; (3) he experienced 3 an adverse employment action; and (4) similarly situated individuals outside his protected class 4 were treated more favorably, or other circumstances surrounding the adverse employment action 5 give rise to an inference of discrimination.” Bodett v. CoxCom, Inc., 366 F.3d 736, 743 (9th 6 Cir.2004). “Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination (known as ‘disparate treatment’) 7 as well as, in some cases, practices that are not intended to discriminate but in fact have a 8 disproportionately adverse effect on minorities (known as ‘disparate impact’).” Ricci v. 9 DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 577, (2009). “Proof of discriminatory motive is critical [in disparate 10 treatment cases], although it can in some situations be inferred from the mere fact of differences 11 in treatment.” Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 335 n. 15, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 12 52 L.Ed.2d 396 (1977). 13 Here, plaintiff has not established that he is a member of a protected class under Title VII. 14 He alleges racial and national origin discrimination but does not identify his race or national 15 origin. Nor does he list any facts indicating he was qualified for his position, that his employment 16 termination was related to any protected-class status, or that similarly situated individuals outside 17 his protected class status were treated more favorably. Plaintiff’s conclusory statements and 18 speculation are not enough. He must provide specific facts to establish that he can state a Title 19 VII discrimination claim. 20 As to plaintiff’s retaliation claim, plaintiff specifies retaliation was due to his request for 21 disability accommodations, but he does not allege enough facts to state a claim. The Ninth 22 Circuit has recognized that the framework used to analyze Title VII retaliation claims applies 23 equally to the ADA. Barnett v. U.S. Air, Inc., 228 F.3d 1105, 1121 (9th Cir.2000) (adopting Title 24 VII analysis for the ADA), overruled on other grounds, 535 U.S. 391 (2002). To establish a 25 prima facie case of retaliation under this framework, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that he 26 engaged in a protected activity, (2) that he was thereafter subjected to adverse employment 27 action, and (3) that a causal link exists between the protected activity and the adverse 28 employment action. Id. To establish an adverse employment action, “a plaintiff must show that a 4 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 5 of 7 1 reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially adverse, which in this 2 context means it well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a 3 charge of discrimination.” Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 68 (2006) 4 (quotations omitted). A causal link can be shown by direct evidence or inferred from 5 circumstantial evidence such as closeness in time between the protected activity and the 6 employment decision and whether the employer knew that the employee engaged in protected 7 activities. Yartzoff v. Thomas, 809 F.2d 1371, 1376 (9th Cir.1987). The complaint must state 8 enough facts to establish a prima facie retaliation case under the ADA. 9 10 Finally, plaintiff does not make any allegations related to the individual defendants. Because of this, he cannot state any legal claim against them. 11 II. AMENDING THE COMPLAINT 12 If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, the amended complaint must allege facts 13 establishing the existence of federal jurisdiction. In addition, it must contain a short and plain 14 statement of plaintiff’s claims. The allegations of the complaint must be set forth in sequentially 15 numbered paragraphs, with each paragraph number being one greater than the one before, each 16 paragraph having its own number, and no paragraph number being repeated anywhere in the 17 complaint. Each paragraph should be limited “to a single set of circumstances” where 18 possible. Rule 10(b). As noted above, forms are available to help plaintiffs organize their 19 complaint in the proper way. They are available at the Clerk’s Office, 501 I Street, 4th Floor 20 (Rm. 4-200), Sacramento, CA 95814, or online at www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms. 21 Plaintiff must avoid excessive repetition of the same allegations. Plaintiff must avoid 22 narrative and storytelling. That is, the complaint should not include every detail of what 23 happened, nor recount the details of conversations (unless necessary to establish the claim), nor 24 give a running account of plaintiff’s hopes and thoughts. Rather, the amended complaint should 25 contain only those facts needed to show how the defendant legally wronged the plaintiff. The 26 complaint must include enough factual allegations to state a claim for each cause of action 27 alleged. 28 //// 5 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 6 of 7 1 The amended complaint must not force the court and the defendants to guess at what is 2 being alleged against whom. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) 3 (affirming dismissal of a complaint where the district court was “literally guessing as to what 4 facts support the legal claims being asserted against certain defendants”). The amended 5 complaint must not require the court to spend its time “preparing the ‘short and plain statement’ 6 which Rule 8 obligated plaintiffs to submit.” Id. at 1180. The amended complaint must not 7 require the court and defendants to prepare lengthy outlines “to determine who is being sued for 8 what.” Id. at 1179. 9 Also, the amended complaint must not refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff’s 10 amended complaint complete. An amended complaint must be complete in itself without 11 reference to any prior pleading. Local Rule 220. This is because, as a general rule, an amended 12 complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Pacific Bell Tel. Co. v. Linkline 13 Communications, Inc., 555 U.S. 438, 456 n.4 (2009) (“[n]ormally, an amended complaint 14 supersedes the original complaint”) (citing 6 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & 15 Procedure § 1476, pp. 556-57 (2d ed. 1990)). Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an 16 original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently 17 alleged. 18 III. PRO SE PLAINTIFF’S SUMMARY 19 It is not clear that this case can proceed. The facts you have put in your complaint are not 20 enough to make any of the legal claims you have listed. Because of this, the complaint will not 21 be served on defendants. Your lawsuit cannot proceed unless you fix the problems with your 22 complaint. 23 You are being given 30 days to submit an amended complaint. If you submit an amended 24 complaint, it needs to explain in simple terms what laws or legal rights of yours were violated, by 25 whom and how, and how those violations impacted you. You need to include enough facts to 26 show that you can support your legal claims. If you do not submit an amended complaint by the 27 deadline, the undersigned will recommend that the case be dismissed. 28 //// 6 Case 2:21-cv-01562-KJM-AC Document 3 Filed 09/07/21 Page 7 of 7 1 2 IV. CONCLUSION Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 3 1. Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is GRANTED; 4 2. Plaintiff shall have 30 days from the date of this order to file an amended complaint that 5 complies with the instructions given above. If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this 6 order, the undersigned may recommend that this action be dismissed. 7 DATED: September 7, 2021 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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