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Char v. Simeona

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 10, 2018

MARK ALAN CHAR, #A0234438, Plaintiff,
v.
LUGENE SIMEONA, TOY STECH, DOE DEFENDANTS 1-100, CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, LUIS M. KEALOHA, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Mark Alan Char is incarcerated at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”). Char alleges that Defendants Honolulu City and County (“Honolulu C&C”) police officers Lugene Simeona, Toy Stech, ex-Chief of Police Louis M. Kealoha, and Does 1-100 (collectively, “Defendants”), violated his federal civil rights and state law during an incident that allegedly occurred on August 1, 2016.

         Char's Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a-b).

         I. STATUTORY SCREENING

         Because Char is a prisoner proceeding pro se and alleges claims against government officers, the court screens his pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune from suit. See Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         Screening under § 1915 involves the same standard of review as that used under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(6). See Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). A complaint 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), and “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pro se litigants' pleadings must be liberally construed and all doubts should be resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Leave to amend must be granted if it appears the plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Char was involved in an altercation on August 1, 2016. Char alleges that, because the other individuals involved in the incident were injured and he was not, Officers Simeona and Stech mistakenly assumed that he was the assailant and arrested him.[1] Compl., ECF No. 1. Char provides few details regarding this incident, although he states that “a video recording was shown on the TV news, showing that [Char] was getting hammered six (6) times on the head by the so called ‘victims.'” Id., PageID #9. Char alleges Defendants have “demonstrable propensities for dishonesty, ” and were “deliberately indifferent” to his rights during his arrest. Id., PageID #5-8, #10.

         Char sets forth eight claims for relief: (1) false arrest and imprisonment (Count I); (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) (Count II); (3) abuse of process (Count III); (4) negligence (Count IV); (5) malicious prosecution (Count V); (6) retaliation under the “Fourteenth Amendment and/or 42 U.S.C. § 1983” (Count VI); (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”) (Count VII); and (8) fraudulent procurement of a search warrant (Count VIII). These claims for relief must be read together to make any sense of the Complaint. Char seeks damages only.

         III. DISCUSSION

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Additionally, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of a particular defendant's conduct and an affirmative link between the injury and the violation of his rights. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).

         A. Failure to Comply With Rule 8

         Char's Complaint is vague, conclusory, and, although brief, it utterly fails to allege a “plain statement of the claim” in a “simple, concise, and direct” manner. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and (d)(1); see also McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (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”). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds on which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). To do so, a plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims; vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard.

         Char fails to explain what specifically happened on August 1, 2016, such as where the altercation took place, what preceded it, what each Defendant's specific connection to the incident is, when Defendants arrested him, what occurred after the allegedly illegal arrest, and what each Defendant did or failed to do that violated his rights. Char also fails to adequately differentiate between any Defendant's actions, but broadly alleges each claim against Simeona and “Defendants, ” or Simeona and Stech and “Defendants.” Char further fails to identify Doe Defendants 1-100 with any particularity, or attribute any specific actions or inactions to them or to ex-Chief Kealoha.

         Char simply offers vague allegations of wrongdoing without alleging any factual support. The only facts, as opposed to legal conclusions, that the court can plausibly infer are that: (1) Char was involved in an altercation on August 1, 2016; (2) he was unharmed but the others involved suffered injuries; (3) there was a search or arrest warrant issued against Char; (4) Officers Simeona and Stech arrested Char; and (5) a video that purportedly recorded the incident or portions of the incident was shown on TV. The Complaint is the quintessential, naked recital of a cause of action, supported by conclusory statements and opinions, but devoid of facts. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Char's Complaint lacks sufficient clarity and factual support for Defendants to understand and defend against his claims. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are this vague and conclusory.

         Char's Complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a colorable claim for relief. Char is granted leave to amend his claims to provide the necessary factual support to state each claim that he alleges. To enable Char to effectively do so, the court provides the following legal standards. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987) (explaining that a court should briefly explain a pro se litigant's pleading deficiencies when dismissing a complaint with leave to amend).

         B. Official ...


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