Stults v. Mesa County Detention Facility
ORDER Directing Plaintiff to Cure Deficiencies and File Amended Complaint that Complies with Rule 8, by Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland on 11/04/2014. (slibi, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 14-cv-02981-BNB
(The above civil action number must appear on all future papers
sent to the Court in this action. Failure to include this number
may result in a delay in the consideration of your claims.)
EARL LYNN STULTS,
MESA COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY, 215 Rice Street, Grand Junction, CO 81502,
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO CURE DEFICIENCIES AND
FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT THAT COMPLIES WITH RULE 8
Plaintiff, Earl Lynn Stults, is incarcerated at the Mesa County Detention Facility in
Grand Junction, Colorado. Mr. Stults initiated this action by filing pro se a Prisoner
Complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As part of the Court’s review
pursuant to D.C.COLO.LCivR 8.1(b), the Court has determined that the Prisoner
Complaint is deficient as described in this order. Plaintiff will be directed to cure the
following if he wishes to pursue his claims. Any papers that Plaintiff files in response to
this order must include the civil action number noted above in the caption of this order.
28 U.S.C. § 1915 Motion and Affidavit:
is not submitted (must use the Court’s current Prisoner’s Motion and
Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 form revised
10/01/12 with Authorization and Certificate of Prison Official)
is missing affidavit
is missing certified copy of prisoner's trust fund statement for the 6-month
period immediately preceding this filing
is missing certificate showing current balance in prison account
is missing required financial information
is missing an original signature by the prisoner
is not on proper form
names in caption do not match names in caption of complaint, petition or
An original and a copy have not been received by the Court.
Only an original has been received.
other: Plaintiff may pay $400.00 (the $350.00 filing fee plus a $50.00
administrative fee) in lieu of filing a § 1915 Motion and Affidavit and a
certified copy of his six months’ trust fund statement.
Complaint, Petition or Application:
is not submitted (on the complete Prisoner Complaint form)
is not on proper form
is missing an original signature by the prisoner
is missing page no.
uses et al. instead of listing all parties in caption
An original and a copy have not been received by the Court. Only an
original has been received.
Sufficient copies to serve each defendant/respondent have not been
received by the Court.
names in caption do not match names in text (Plaintiff names Mesa
County Detention Facility in caption to Prisoner Complaint and Grace
Farrell, RN, Health Services Admin. in the text of the Prisoner Complaint)
The Court must construe the Prisoner Complaint liberally because Mr. Stults 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 at 1110. For the reasons stated
below, Mr. Stults will be ordered to file an amended Prisoner Complaint if he wishes to
pursue his claims in this action.
Mr. Stults may not sue the Mesa County Detention Facility. The Mesa County
Detention Facility is not a separate entity from Mesa County and, therefore, is not a
person under § 1983. See Stump v. Gates, 777 F. Supp. 808, 814-16 (D. Colo. 1991),
aff'd, 986 F.2d 1429 (10th Cir. 1993). Any claims asserted against the detention facility
must be considered as asserted against Mesa County.
In addition, municipalities, such as Mesa County, and municipal entities are not
liable under § 1983 solely because their employees inflict injury on a plaintiff. Monell v.
New York City Dep’t of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Hinton v. City of
Elwood, Kan., 997 F.2d 774, 782 (10th Cir. 1993). To establish liability, a plaintiff must
show that a policy or custom exists and that there is a direct causal link between the
policy or custom and the injury alleged. City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378,
385 (1989). Plaintiff cannot state a claim for relief against El Paso County under § 1983
merely by pointing to isolated incidents. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 694.
Mr. Stults complains that he is disabled, wheelchair bound, and not receiving the
medical treatment he needs. He fails to make a request for relief, although he appears
to seek his transfer to a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital for medical treatment.
However, he attaches to the Prisoner Complaint a letter from the Department of
Veterans Affairs stating that he is eligible to VA healthcare once released from
incarceration, but prohibited from receiving clinical treatment from a VA Medical Center
while incarcerated. See ECF No. 1 at 12.
The amended Prisoner Complaint Mr. Stults will be directed to file must 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.
In order to state a claim in federal court, Mr. Stults “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.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir.
2007). 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).
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); see also Wyatt v. Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 161 (1992) (“[T]he purpose
of § 1983 is to deter state actors from using the badge of their authority to deprive
individuals of their federally guaranteed rights and to provide relief to victims if such
deterrence fails.”). Therefore, Mr. Stults should name as defendants in the amended
Prisoner Complaint only those persons that he contends actually violated his federal
Personal participation is an essential allegation in a civil rights action. See
Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976). To establish personal
participation, Mr. Stults must show that each defendant caused the deprivation of a
federal right. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). There must be an
affirmative link between the alleged constitutional violation and each defendant’s
participation, control or direction, or failure to supervise. See Butler v. City of Norman,
992 F.2d 1053, 1055 (10th Cir. 1993). Supervisory officials may not be held liable for
the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates on a theory of respondeat
superior. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Instead,
when a plaintiff sues an official under Bivens [v. Six
Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403
U.S. 388 (1971),] or § 1983 for conduct “arising from his or
her superintendent responsibilities,” the plaintiff must
plausibly plead and eventually prove not only that the
official’s subordinates violated the Constitution, but that the
official by virtue of his own conduct and state of mind did so
See Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1198 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 677). Therefore, in order to succeed in a § 1983 suit against a government
official for conduct that arises out of his or her supervisory responsibilities, a plaintiff
must allege and demonstrate that: “(1) the defendant promulgated, created,
implemented or possessed responsibility for the continued operation of a policy that (2)
caused the complained of constitutional harm, and (3) acted with the state of mind
required to establish the alleged constitutional deprivation.” Id. at 1199.
Mr. Stults may use fictitious names, such as “John or Jane Doe,” if he does not
know the real names of the individuals who allegedly violated his rights. However, if Mr.
Stults uses fictitious names he must provide sufficient information about each defendant
so that he or she can be identified for purposes of service.
Finally, Mr. Stults’ handwriting is hard to read. Mr. Stults is advised that Rule
10.1 of the Local Rules of Practice for this Court requires that all papers filed in cases in
this Court be double-spaced and legible. See D.C.COLO.LCivR 10.1E. and G. The
amended Prisoner Complaint Mr. Stults will be directed to file, whether handwritten or
typed, shall be double-spaced and legible, in capital and lower-case letters, in
compliance with D.C.COLO.LCivR 10.1E. and G.
A decision to dismiss a complaint pursuant to Rule 8 is within the trial court’s
sound discretion. See Atkins v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 967 F.2d 1197, 1203 (8th Cir.
1992); Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969). The Court
finds that the Prisoner Complaint does not meet the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8.
Mr. Stults will be given an opportunity to cure the deficiencies by submitting an
amended Prisoner Complaint that sues the proper parties, states claims clearly and
concisely in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, and alleges specific facts that
demonstrate how each named defendant personally participated in the asserted
constitutional violations. The Court will not consider any claims raised in separate
attachments, amendments, supplements, motions, or other documents not included in
the amended Prisoner Complaint.
Mr. Stults is warned that, even if the Court dismisses the instant action without
prejudice for failure to comply with this order, the dismissal may bar recovery if Mr.
Stults seeks to refile in this Court because the two-year limitations periods may have
run on his § 1983 claims.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Plaintiff, Earl Lynn Stults, cure the designated deficiencies and
file within thirty (30) days from the date of this order an amended Prisoner
Complaint that complies with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure as discussed in this order. Any papers that Plaintiff files in response
to this order must include the civil action number on this order. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall obtain (with the assistance of his case
manager or the facility’s legal assistant) the Court-approved forms for filing a Prisoner’s
Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and Prisoner
Complaint, along with the applicable instructions, at www.cod.uscourts.gov, and shall
use those forms in curing the designated deficiencies and filing an amended Prisoner
Complaint. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that, if Plaintiff fails to cure the designated deficiencies or
file an amended Prisoner Complaint as directed within thirty days from the date of
this order, certain claims against certain defendants, or the entire Prisoner Complaint
and action, may be dismissed without further notice.
DATED November 4, 2014, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Boyd N. Boland
United States Magistrate Judge
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