Patterson v. Jefferson County Jail et al
ORDER dismissing this action, and denying leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, by Judge Lewis T. Babcock on 3/25/16. (dkals, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 16-cv-00096-GPG
ROB ALLEN PATTERSON,
JEFFERSON COUNTY JAIL, et al.,
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., and
ARAMARK FOOD SERVICES, et al.,
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Plaintiff initiated this action on January 14, 2016, by filing pro se a Prisoner
Complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking money damages and
injunctive relief. In an order (ECF No. 5) filed on January 20, 2016, Magistrate Judge
Gordon P. Gallagher directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if he wanted to
pursue his claims in this action. Magistrate Judge Gallagher determined that the
Complaint did not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure because Plaintiff failed to provide a short and plain statement of the
claims showing he is entitled to relief. Magistrate Judge Gallagher specifically advised
Plaintiff of the factual allegations necessary to support a § 1983 claim and the standards
for municipal liability. Magistrate Judge Gallagher also warned Plaintiff that if he failed
to file an amended complaint that complies with the pleading requirements of Rule 8
within thirty days, the action would be dismissed without further notice.
Plaintiff submitted a “Motion for Emergency Relief Due to Refusal to Treat
Threatening Medical Condition” (ECF No. 7) on February 4, 2016, a letter (ECF No. 8)
on February 11, 2016, and a second letter (ECF No. 9) on February 16, 2016. In a
minute order (ECF No. 10) filed on February 17, 2016, Magistrate Judge Gallagher
informed Plaintiff that the documents submitted to the Court did not comply with the
January 20 order. Magistrate Judge Gallagher further instructed Plaintiff that he must
file an amended complaint, on the court-approved Prisoner Complaint form, that
complies with directives of the January 20 order, which includes satisfying the
requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, identifying the
individually named defendants that personally participated in the asserted constitutional
violation or alleges specific facts that demonstrate an injury caused by a municipal
policy or custom, and sets forth all relevant factual allegations in support of the claims
for relief. A copy of the Prisoner Complaint form was mailed to Plaintiff. Magistrate
Judge Gallagher finally warned Plaintiff that failure to file an amended complaint, within
thirty days of the February 17 minute order, would result in a dismissal of the action
without further notice. Despite this warning, Plaintiff has not filed an amended prisoner
complaint within the time allowed.
The Court must construe the Complaint liberally because Plaintiff 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 discussed
below, the action will be dismissed.
The twin purposes of a pleading 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); see also Nasious v. Two Unknown
B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007) (stating that 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.”).
The requirements of Rule 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.” Furthermore, 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. As a result, prolix, vague, or
unintelligible pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8.
The Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Gallagher that the Complaint (ECF No.
1) does not provide a short and plain statement of the claims Plaintiff is asserting
against Defendants that demonstrate he is entitled to relief. Furthermore, despite the
specific instructions provided by Magistrate Judge Gallagher, Plaintiff has failed to file
an amended complaint that clarifies his claims, identifies individually named defendants
that personally participated in the constitutional violations, or alleges facts that
demonstrate an injury caused by a municipal policy or custom.
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); see also United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d
955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991) (“Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs.”);
Ketchum v. Cruz, 775 F. Supp. 1399, 1403 (D. Colo. 1991) (vague and conclusory
allegations that his rights have been violated does not entitle a pro se pleader to a day
in court regardless of how liberally the pleadings are construed), aff’d, 961 F.2d 916
(10th Cir. 1992). “[I]n analyzing the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s complaint, the court
need accept as true only the plaintiff’s well-pleaded factual contentions, not his
conclusory allegations.” Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110.
The action will be dismissed because the Complaint does not comply with the
pleading requirements of Rule 8. The Court also certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and
therefore in forma pauperis status will be denied for the purpose of appeal. See
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438 (1962). If Plaintiff files a notice of appeal he
must pay the full $505 appellate filing fee or file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis
in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit within thirty days in
accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 24. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Complaint (ECF No. 1) and the action are dismissed
without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
because Plaintiff failed to file a pleading that complies with the pleading requirements of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal is
denied without prejudice to the filing of a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma
pauperis on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that all pending motions are denied as moot.
DATED at Denver, Colorado, this
25th day of
BY THE COURT:
s/Lewis T. Babcock______________
LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior Judge
United States District Court
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?