Laxson v. Lengerich et al
ORDER Directing Plaintiff To File Amended Complaint, by Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer on 7/1/14. (nmarb, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 14-cv-01789-BNB
LLOYD HARVEY LAXSON,
THE WHOLE MEDICAL DEP.,
MENTAL HEALTH DEP.,
NURSE PRACTITIONER STERGEON,
X-RAY TECK MR. SARI,
MRS. BRONIE, Medical Dep.,
MRS. KISPAR, Medical Dep., and
MRS. JONES, Mental Health,
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiff, Lloyd Harvey Laxson, is a prisoner in the custody of the Colorado
Department of Corrections. Mr. Laxson has filed pro se a Prisoner Complaint (ECF No.
1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court must construe the Prisoner Complaint
liberally because Mr. Laxson is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
However, the court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d
The Prisoner Complaint is deficient. Pursuant to Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, “[t]he title of the complaint must name all the parties.” It is not clear
whether the caption of the Prisoner Complaint lists the names of all the parties because
the caption is confusing and difficult to understand. It appears that some Defendants
are listed twice and it is not clear who or what Mr. Laxson is suing when he refers to the
“Whole Medical Dep.” and the “Mental Health Dep.” As a result, it is not clear exactly
who Mr. Laxson is suing in this action.
The Prisoner Complaint also does not comply with the pleading requirements of
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The twin purposes of a complaint are to
give the opposing parties fair notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they
may respond and to allow the court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that
the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v.
American Cemetery Ass’n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). The
requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 are designed to meet these purposes. See TV
Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F. Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991),
aff’d, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992). Specifically, Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint
“must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, .
. . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” The philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced
by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and
direct.” Taken together, Rules 8(a) and (d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on
clarity and brevity by the federal pleading rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings
violate Rule 8.
Mr. Laxson indicates he is asserting constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and it is clear that he is complaining about his medical treatment for a variety of
conditions. However, Mr. Laxson fails to provide a short and plain statement of any
constitutional claims showing he is entitled to relief because he fails to identify the
specific constitutional claims he is asserting, the specific factual allegations that support
each claim, against which Defendant or Defendants he is asserting each claim, and
what each Defendant did that allegedly violated his rights. See Nasious v. Two
Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007) (noting that, to state a
claim in federal court, “a complaint must explain what each defendant did to him or her;
when the defendant did it; how the defendant’s action harmed him or her; and, what
specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated”); see also Henry v.
Storey, 658 F.3d 1235, 1241 (10th Cir. 2011) (allegations of “personal participation in the
specific constitutional violation complained of [are] essential”). The general rule that pro
se pleadings must be construed liberally has limits and “the court cannot take on the
responsibility of serving as the litigant’s attorney in constructing arguments and
searching the record.” Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840
(10th Cir. 2005). Finally, “[i]t is sufficient, and indeed all that is permissible, if the
complaint concisely states facts upon which relief can be granted upon any legally
sustainable basis.” New Home Appliance Ctr., Inc., v. Thompson, 250 F.2d 881, 883
(10th Cir. 1957).
For these reasons, Mr. Laxson must file an amended complaint if he wishes to
pursue his claims in this action. Section 1983 “provides a federal cause of action
against any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another of his federal
rights.” Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 290 (1999). Therefore, Mr. Laxson should
name as Defendants only those persons he contends actually violated his federal
constitutional rights. In order to clarify who is being sued in this action, Mr. Laxson
should list the name of each Defendant on a separate line in the caption of his amended
complaint. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Mr. Laxson file, within thirty (30) days from the date of this
order, an amended complaint that complies with this order. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Mr. Laxson shall obtain the court-approved Prisoner
Complaint form (with the assistance of his case manager or the facility’s legal assistant),
along with the applicable instructions, at www.cod.uscourts.gov. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that, if Mr. Laxson fails within the time allowed to file an
amended complaint that complies with this order, the action will be dismissed without
DATED July 1, 2014, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
s/Craig B. Shaffer
United States Magistrate Judge
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