Brown v. Unknown

Filing 14

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND. Signed by Judge Lucy H. Koh on 9/29/11. (Attachments: # 1 certificate of mailing)(mpb, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/29/2011)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 KEENAN G. WILKINS, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, et al., 15 Defendants. No. C 11-2704 LHK (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND 16 Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed an amended civil rights complaint 17 against jail officials at Glenn Dyer Jail, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff’s motion for 18 leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order. For the reasons stated below, 19 the Court dismisses the amended complaint with leave to amend. 20 DISCUSSION 21 A. Standard of Review 22 A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner 23 seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 24 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss 25 any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or 26 seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. 27 § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. 28 Order of Dismissal with Leave to Amend P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Wilkins704dwla.wpd 1 Pacifica Police Dep’t., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). 2 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the 3 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the 4 statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds 5 upon which it rests.”’” Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). 6 Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a 7 plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than 8 labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not 9 do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” 10 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A 11 complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. 12 at 1974. 13 To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: 14 (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that 15 the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. 16 Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). 17 B. 18 Legal Claims A review of Plaintiff’s amended complaint reveals several deficiencies which he must 19 address in a second amended complaint. The amended complaint contains a number of 20 improperly joined claims. “A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party 21 claim may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an 22 opposing party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). The rules are somewhat different when, as here, there 23 are multiple parties. Multiple parties may be joined as defendants in one action only “if any 24 right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or 25 arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and any 26 question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 27 20(a)(2). 28 The upshot of these rules is that “multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Order of Dismissal with Leave to Amend P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Wilkins704dwla.wpd 2 1 Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2.” 2 George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). “Unrelated claims against different 3 defendants belong in different suits.” Id. 4 The amended complaint appears to raise eleven claims. Claims 2, 5, and 8 potentially 5 could be merged into one claim. The following demonstrates the range of claims plaintiff asserts 6 against several different defendants: that officials confiscated his legal documents; that he was 7 punished without procedural due process; that the sheriff’s office has a policy of eavesdropping 8 on confidential phone calls; and that he was denied medical attention. 9 As alleged, these claims against multiple parties do not arise out of the same transaction, 10 occurrence or series of occurrences, and do not involve a common question of law or fact. The 11 amended complaint appears to be a recitation of several things that Plaintiff has found 12 objectionable at the jail. “A buckshot complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free person – 13 say, a suit complaining that A defrauded plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to 14 pay a debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different transactions – should be rejected if filed 15 by a prisoner.” Id. Accordingly, the Court finds the claims and Defendants improperly joined. 16 Although a Court may strike individual claims that are not properly joined, the Court 17 cannot here determine which of the claims Plaintiff may wish to keep and which he wants to 18 omit. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. Thus, instead of dismissing certain claims and Defendants, the 19 Court now dismisses the complaint with leave to file a second amended complaint. The second 20 amended complaint must comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 18 and 20 concerning 21 joinder of claims and Defendants, and if it does not, then this entire action will be dismissed 22 without prejudice. 23 Plaintiff should also bear in mind that the second amended complaint must allege facts 24 that show federal constitutional violations. It should describe what happened, when it happened, 25 and how it violated his constitutional rights. For example, if Plaintiff intends to allege that a 26 deprivation of a basic necessity was sufficiently serious to satisfy the objective component of an 27 Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must allege (1) what the deprivation is, recognizing that it 28 must be objectively and sufficiently serious to rise to the level of a constitutional violation, and Order of Dismissal with Leave to Amend P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Wilkins704dwla.wpd 3 1 (2) that the prison official possessed a sufficiently culpable state of mind. See Farmer v. 2 Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). 3 Moreover, although the complaint names several Defendants, Plaintiff must link each 4 Defendant to each claim by providing facts showing the basis for liability for each individual 5 Defendant. For example, plaintiff should allege which Defendants were responsible for violating 6 which constitutional right, and how they were responsible for doing so. He should not refer to 7 them as a group (e.g., “the Defendants”); rather, he should identify each involved person by 8 name, and link each of them to the claim(s) by explaining what each Defendant did or failed to 9 do that caused a violation of his constitutional rights. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 10 (9th Cir. 1988) (liability may be imposed on individual defendant under § 1983 only if plaintiff 11 can show that a defendant proximately caused deprivation of federally protected right). 12 CONCLUSION 13 1. The amended complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend. 14 2. Plaintiff shall file a SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT within thirty days 15 from the date this order is filed to cure the deficiencies described above. The amended 16 complaint must include the caption and civil case number used in this order (C 11-2704 LHK 17 (PR)) and the words SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT on the first page. Plaintiff may not 18 incorporate material from the prior complaint by reference. Failure to file an amended 19 complaint within thirty days and in accordance with this order will result in dismissal of 20 this action. 21 3. Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. 22 “[A] plaintiff waives all causes of action alleged in the original complaint which are not alleged 23 in the amended complaint.” London v. Coopers & Lybrand, 644 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1981). 24 Defendants not named in an amended complaint are no longer defendants. See Ferdik v. 25 Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). 26 4. It is the Plaintiff’s responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the 27 Court informed of any change of address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed “Notice 28 of Change of Address,” and must comply with the Court’s orders in a timely fashion. Failure to Order of Dismissal with Leave to Amend P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Wilkins704dwla.wpd 4 1 do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule 2 of Civil Procedure 41(b). 3 4 IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: 9/29/11 LUCY H. KOH United States District Judge 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Order of Dismissal with Leave to Amend P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\CR.11\Wilkins704dwla.wpd 5

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