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Chris Grindling, #A0721079 v. Frederick Martone

July 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge


Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Chris Grindling's prisoner civil rights complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Maui Community Correctional Center ("MCCC"). Plaintiff names twenty-seven defendants in Hawaii and Arizona, including federal and state judges, and prison and other state officials, alleging that they have violated his constitutional rights over the past several years. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Plaintiff is given leave to amend, as discussed and limited below.


The Complaint is somewhat disjointed, rambling, and difficult to comprehend. Plaintiff names numerous state and federal officials as defendants, including: (1) U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone, District of Arizona; (2) U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra, District of Hawaii; (3) U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang, District of Hawaii; (4) Second Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto, State of Hawaii; (5) Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo, State of Hawaii; (6) Chief Judge Craig Nakamura, Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ("IAC"); (7) Judge Alexa D.M. Fujise, IAC; (8) Judge Katherine Leonard, IAC; (9) Judge Daniel R. Foley, IAC; (10) Justice Simeon R. Acoba, Hawaii Supreme Court ("HSC"); (11) Justice Richard W. Pollack, HSC; (12) Justice James E. Duffy, HSC (ret.); (13) Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon, HSC (ret.); (14) Chief Justice Mark E. Rectenwald, HSC; (15) Justice Sabrina McKenna, HSC; (16) Justice Paula A. Nakayama, HSC; (17) Scott Jinbo, Hawaii Department of Public Safety ("DPS"); (18) Heather Kimura, DPS; (19) David M. Louie, Hawaii Attorney General; (20) Moana M. Lutey, Deputy Corporation Counsel, Maui; (21) Captain Paleka, Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF); (22) DPS Director Joedie MaesakaHirata; (23) MCCC Warden James Hirano; (24) DPS Administrator Shari Kimoto; (25) Saguaro Correctional Center ("SCC") Grievance Coordinator Juan Valenzuela; (26) SCC Unit Manager Dobson; and (27) SCC Property Officer Streeter (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff alleges five causes of action, as discussed in more detail below, and seeks compensatory damages, declaratory and injunctive relief.


The court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners that relate to prison conditions and/or seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if its claims are legally frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory; or (2) contains insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To state a claim, a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

The court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, accept all allegations of material fact as true, and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted unless it appears that amendment is futile. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).


To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

The statute plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658(1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that "[a] person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

A. The Complaint Fails to Comply With The Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure

1. Rule 8

Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Cmty. Redev. Agency of City of L.A., 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). "All that is required [by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)] is that the complaint gives 'the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the ground upon which it rests.'" Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Datagate, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 941 F.2d 864, 870 (9th Cir. 1991)).

A complaint with the factual elements of a cause of action scattered throughout the complaint and not organized into a "short and plain statement of the claim" may be dismissed for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a). See Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988); see also McHenry, 84 F.3d 1172. That is, a complaint that is so confusing that its "true substance, if any, is well disguised" may be dismissed sua sponte for failure to satisfy Rule 8. Hearns v. San Bernardino Police Dep't, 530 F.3d 1124, 1131 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969)); see also McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 1996) ("Something labeled a complaint but written . . ., prolix in evidentiary detail, yet without simplicity, conciseness and clarity as to whom plaintiffs are suing for what wrongs, fails to perform the essential functions of a complaint.").

Plaintiff's claims are rambling, difficult to decipher, repetitive, and fail to plainly and succinctly show how and when each Defendant violated his constitutional rights and that he is entitled to relief. Plaintiff fails to specify the dates when his claims allegedly took place, where each of these violations allegedly occurred, or how any specific Defendant violated the laws, treaties, or Constitution of the United States. Plaintiff repeats his claims against many Defendants over and over, providing the same details and alleging the same conclusions in several of his counts. That is, Plaintiff alleges supporting facts against various Defendants throughout his claims without regard to what his stated cause of action in the specific claim might allege.

In short, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to clearly separate and allege sufficient factual details relevant to each claim against each Defendant to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). As written, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to determine who did what to Plaintiff, when his claims accrued, what his specific claims against each individual Defendant entails, and how his constitutional rights were violated. See McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1178--80 (affirming dismissal of complaint where "one cannot determine from the complaint who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery").

2. Rules 18 and 20

More importantly, the Complaint includes unrelated claims against wholly unrelated defendants, based on separate factual scenarios, that occurred at different times and places in Hawaii and Arizona, and that involve different legal theories and causes of action. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure set forth the rules regarding joinder of parties or claims. "A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or alternate claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a); see also, Aul v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 993 F.2d 881, 884 (9th Cir. 1993) ("A claim based on different rights and established by different transactional facts will be a different cause of action."). "Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass [a multiple claim, multiple defendant] suit produce[s], but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees -- for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

Additionally, a claim may be brought against multiple defendants so long as (1) the claim arises out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences, and (2) there are common questions of law or fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2); Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1348, 1351 (9th Cir. 1997); Desert Empire Bank v. Insurance Co. of North America, 623 F.3d 1371, 1375 (9th Cir. 1980).

Plaintiff's claims do not conform with Rules 18 and 20, and cannot proceed in a single action. His claims alleging inadequate conditions of confinement at SCC against the Arizona Defendants have no connection to his claims against DPS and HCF Defendants in Hawaii for the conditions of confinement at HCF. Nor do his claims challenging the conditions of ...

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