Carter v. Koprivnikar et al
ORDER TO File Amended Prisoner Complaint, by Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher on 3/4/15. (morti, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 15-cv-00435-GPG
JOAN KOPRIVNIKAR, MD,
TIFFANY HOLUBEK, and
LT. JOHN SCOLERI,
ORDER TO FILE AMENDED PRISONER COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Joseph Carter, a pro se prisoner litigant, has filed a Prisoner Complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and money
The Court must construe Plaintiff’s Complaint liberally because he 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 act
as an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. Plaintiff will be
directed to file an Amended Complaint for the reasons stated below.
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). T he 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).
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 statem ent 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.
Claims must be presented clearly and concisely in a manageable format that
allows a court and a defendant to know what claims are being asserted and to be able
to respond to those claims. New Home Appliance Ctr., Inc., v. Thompson, 250 F.2d
881, 883 (10th Cir. 1957). For the purposes of Rule 8(a), “[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.” Id.
The Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s Complaint and finds that he fails to provide a
short and plain statement of his claims in compliance with the pleading requirements of
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff’s claims are presented in a
repetitive chronological statement and fail to set forth his claims in a clear and concise
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,
however, will give Plaintiff an opportunity to cure the deficiencies in the Complaint by
submitting an Amended Complaint that meets the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 and
complies with the following directives.
Plaintiff also must assert personal participation by each named defendant in the
alleged constitutional violation. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th
Cir. 1976). To establish personal participation, Plaintiff must show how each named
individual 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).
Supervisors can only be held liable for their own misconduct. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). A supervisor cannot incur liability under § 1983 for his
mere knowledge of a subordinate’s wrongdoing. Id.; see also Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523
F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008) (“[Section] 1983 does not recognize a concept of strict
supervisor liability; the defendant’s role must be more than one of abstract authority
over individuals who actually committed a constitutional violation.”). Furthermore,
when a plaintiff sues an official under Bivens 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 of ficial by virtue of his
own conduct and state of mind did so as well.
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.
Furthermore, Plaintiff cannot maintain claims against prison officials or
administrators on the basis that they denied his grievances. The “denial of a grievance,
by itself without any connection to the violation of constitutional rights alleged by
plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983.” Gallagher v. Shelton,
587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir. 2009); see also Whitington v. Ortiz, No. 07-1425, 307 F.
App’x. 179, 193 (10th Cir. Jan. 13, 2009) (unpublished) (stating that “the denial of the
grievances alone is insufficient to establish personal participation in the alleged
constitutional violations.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Davis v. Ark.
Valley Corr. Facility, No. 02-1486, 99 F. App’x. 838, 843 (10th Cir. May 20, 2004)
(unpublished) (sending “correspondence [to high-ranking prison official] outlining [a]
complaint . . . without more, does not sufficiently implicate the [supervisory official]
under § 1983”).
Also, mere conclusory allegations of conspiracy with no supporting factual
assertions are insufficient. Scott v. Hern , 216 F.3d 897, 907 (10th Cir. 2000) (citations
omitted). Pleadings must present specific facts that show agreement and concerted
action by the defendants. Id. Plaintiff fails to present any specific facts that show
agreement and a concerted action.
Finally, Plaintiff’s handwriting is not legible because he has failed to leave
sufficient space between each line, and his printing is extraordinarily small, which
makes understanding his handwritten allegations difficult. Pursuant to Rule 10.1(e)and
(g) of the Local Rules of Practice for this Court, Plaintiff is required to double space all
filings and print legibly. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Plaintiff shall have thirty days from the date of this Order to
file an Amended Complaint as directed above. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff 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, to be used in filing the
Amended Complaint. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that if Plaintiff fails to comply within the time allowed the
Court will address the claims pursuant to the federal rules of civil procedure and dismiss
improper and insufficient claims accordingly.
DATED March 4, 2015, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
S/ Gordon P. Gallagher
United States Magistrate Judge
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