Willingham v. City and County of San Francisco, et al.

Filing 44


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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 DARRYL WILLINGHAM, 4 5 6 7 No. C 11-01688 CW (PR) Plaintiff, ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO PROVIDE PLAINTIFF WITH CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT FORM v. CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Defendants. 8 / 9 INTRODUCTION United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Plaintiff, a state prisoner, initiated the instant pro se civil rights action on April 7, 2011, when he filed a document seeking immediate injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Since then, Plaintiff has filed in this action a civil rights complaint, an amended complaint, eight documents titled "Statement of Claim" and sixteen letters. These pleadings, documents and letters range in length from 1 to 83 pages, and in some instances include numerous exhibits. A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. § 1915A(a). See 28 U.S.C. In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). construed. See id. Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). 1 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must 2 allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the 3 Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and 4 (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting 5 under color of state law. 6 (1988). 7 defendant only if the plaintiff can show that the defendant 8 proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. 9 See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988). United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 Under § 1983, liability may be imposed on an individual For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's amended complaint 11 (docket 9), which the Court construes as the operative pleading 12 herein, will be dismissed with leave to amend. 13 Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1981) (holding 14 amended complaint supersedes initial complaint and may not 15 incorporate by reference any parts of original complaint). 16 See London v. DISCUSSION 17 It is exceptionally difficult to glean from Plaintiff's 18 numerous pleadings, documents and letters what his claims are and 19 what relief he seeks. 20 difficult to read that the Court can barely decipher what Plaintiff 21 has written. 22 clearly what injury he has suffered, who caused such injury and 23 what he would like the Court to do. 24 lengthy legal and factual arguments with no concise statement of 25 the claims themselves. 26 types of relief, some of which appear to pertain to the validity of 27 his criminal conviction and others which appear to pertain to the 28 conditions of his confinement at San Quentin State Prison. In particular, Plaintiff's handwriting is so Further, nowhere does Plaintiff state succinctly and Instead, Plaintiff narrates Additionally, Plaintiff refers to various 2 1 Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires 2 that the complaint set forth “a short and plain statement of the 3 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” 4 that fails to state the specific acts of the defendant that 5 violated the plaintiff's rights fails to meet the notice 6 requirements of Rule 8(a). 7 F.2d 1322, 1328 n.5 (9th Cir. 1982). 8 requires that each averment of a pleading be “simple, concise, and 9 direct.” A complaint See Hutchinson v. United States, 677 Additionally, Rule 8(e) See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996) United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 (affirming dismissal of complaint that was “argumentative, prolix, 11 replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant”). 12 federal rules require brevity in pleading, a complaint nevertheless 13 must be sufficient to give the defendants “fair notice” of the 14 claim and the “grounds upon which it rests.” 15 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (quotation and citation omitted). 16 While the Erickson v. Pardus, Here, Plaintiff’s claims cannot proceed as plead because 17 Plaintiff has not clearly and concisely set forth his claims 18 against Defendants or directly linked Defendants to his 19 allegations. 20 individuals in his pleadings, including individuals who are not 21 named as Defendants, and fails adequately to link those who are 22 named as Defendants to an identifiable injury. 23 Plaintiff does directly link some individual Defendants to some of 24 his allegations, the allegations are so lengthy and repetitive that 25 the Court cannot readily determine all of the injuries for which 26 each Defendant allegedly is liable. 27 28 In particular, Plaintiff refers to numerous Additionally, while Further, many of Plaintiff’s claims appear to be unrelated. plaintiff may properly join as many claims as he has against an 3 A 1 opposing party. 2 multiple claims against a single party may be alleged in a single 3 complaint, unrelated claims against different defendants must be 4 alleged in separate complaints. 5 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (finding, under Rule 18(a), prisoner improperly 6 brought complaint raising fifty distinct claims against twenty-four 7 defendants). 8 “there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the 9 alternative, any right to relief in respect of or arising out of Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). Nevertheless, while See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, Further, parties may be joined as defendants only if United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or 11 occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all 12 defendants will arise in the action.” 13 practical matter, this means that claims involving different 14 parties cannot be joined together in one complaint if the facts 15 giving rise to the claims are not factually related in some way -- 16 that is, if there is not “similarity in the factual background.” 17 Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1997). 18 allegations are not sufficient to constitute similarity when the 19 specifics are different. 20 Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a). As a General Id. In sum, even when Plaintiff’s claims are liberally construed, 21 Plaintiff has failed to provide sufficiently simple, concise and 22 direct information for the Court to determine whether Plaintiff’s 23 allegations state cognizable claims for relief with respect to each 24 of the named Defendants. 25 Moreover, Plaintiff appears to be seeking relief that concerns 26 not only the conditions of his confinement but also the validity of 27 his conviction. The latter type of relief cannot be pursued in a 28 4 1 civil rights complaint but must be brought in a habeas corpus 2 petition. See Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 579 (2006). 3 Accordingly, Plaintiff’s amended complaint is DISMISSED. 4 Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint in which (1) he 5 clearly links each Defendant to the alleged injury or injuries for 6 which that Defendant is alleged to be responsible, (2) does not 7 raise unrelated claims against different Defendants, and (3) does 8 not challenge the validity of his conviction. 9 must, in filing his amended complaint, provide sufficient While Plaintiff United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 information to give Defendants fair notice of the nature of the 11 claims against them, Plaintiff should not provide a lengthy 12 narrative with respect to each Defendant to satisfy the pleading 13 requirements of Rule 8. 14 concise statement identifying each Defendant and the specific 15 action or actions that Defendant took, or failed to take, that 16 allegedly caused the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional 17 rights, as well as the injury resulting therefrom. 18 Instead, Plaintiff should provide a Finally, Plaintiff is advised that the Court will not consider 19 as part of Plaintiff's pleadings in this matter any information 20 sent to the Court in a letter, a document titled "Statement of 21 Claim" or any other document that is not a pleading signed under 22 penalty of perjury. 23 included in the second amended complaint, which will supercede all 24 of Plaintiff’s prior pleadings in this matter. 25 Rather, all of Plaintiff’s claims must be CONCLUSION 26 For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows: 27 1. Plaintiff's amended complaint is DISMISSED. 28 5 1 2. Within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order, 2 Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint in order to cure the 3 deficiencies noted above. 4 rights complaint form, a copy of which is provided herewith, and 5 include in the caption both the case number of this action, 6 No. C 11-1688 CW (PR), and the heading “SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT.” Plaintiff shall use the court's civil 7 If Plaintiff fails to timely file a second amended complaint 8 in conformity with this Order, the case will be dismissed without 9 prejudice and will be closed. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 3. It is Plaintiff’s responsibility to prosecute this case. 11 Plaintiff must keep the Court informed of any change of address and 12 must comply with the Court’s orders in a timely fashion. 13 to do so may result in the dismissal of this action, pursuant to 14 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), for failure to prosecute. 15 16 17 18 4. Failure The Clerk of the Court shall provide Plaintiff with a blank civil rights complaint form. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 9/12/2011 CLAUDIA WILKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 2 3 IN RE DARRYL WILLINGHAM, Case Number: CV11-01688 CW 4 Plaintiff, CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE 5 v. 6 IN RE DARRYL WILLINGHAM et al, 7 Defendant. 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 / I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. That on September 12, 2011, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of the attached, and a blank civil rights complaint form by placing said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said copy(ies) into an inter-office delivery receptacle located in the Clerk's office. 13 14 15 16 17 18 Darryl Willingham AE8217 3D22 San Quentin State Prison San Quentin, CA 94974 Dated: September 12, 2011 Richard W. Wieking, Clerk By: Nikki Riley, Deputy Clerk 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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