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Eblacas v. Agbulos

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 30, 2018

DAYSON JAMES EBLACAS, #A5021275, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.

         Pro se Plaintiff Dayson James Eblacas is incarcerated at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”). Eblacas alleges that Defendant Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) Officer Gerald Agbulos violated his federal civil rights and state laws or regulations when Agbulos shot him. See Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #6-#9.

         Eblacas' Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a) for failure to state a claim, with leave granted to amend on or before November 30, 2018.


         Because Eblacas is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, who alleges claims against a government officer, the court conducts a pre-answer screening of his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a). Byrd v. Phoenix Police Dep't, 885 F.3d 639, 641 (9th Cir. 2018). Claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or seek damages from defendants who are immune from suit must be dismissed. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing § 1915A(b)).

         Section 1915 screening involves the same standard of review as that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (screening under § 1915(e)(2)); Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (screening under § 1915A(b)). That is, a complaint must “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); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Rule 12(b)(6) is read in conjunction with Rule 8(a). Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2013). Under Rule 8, 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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but a complaint must allege enough facts to provide both “fair notice” of the claim asserted and “the grounds upon which [that claim] rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 & n.3 (2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 555 (stating Rule 8 pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). The “mere possibility of misconduct” falls short of meeting this standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 555; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         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 to state a claim. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130.


         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) 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). A plaintiff must also allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of the 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. Rule 8[1]

         Eblacas provides few details in support of his claims. He states only that Officer Agbulos was in no immediate danger when he shot him, punched him twice in the face, and “yanked [him] out the window” Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #3-4. He complains that Agbulos failed to say “HPD, freez, ” suggesting that this violated an HPD policy. Id., PageID #4. Eblacas claims that Agbulos used excessive force, failed to follow unidentified “policy and procedures, ” and was a threat to his safety. Eblacas is now paralyzed from the chest down.

         Eblacas provides insufficient facts to give context to his claims and nudge them from the merely possible to plausible. He does not state when and where this shooting occurred, explain what preceded or followed it, or even speculate as to why Officer Agbulos opened fire on him. Eblacas does not say whether Agbulos was on or off duty when he shot him, whether the shooting occurred incident to an arrest or attempted escape, whether he was resisting such an arrest, or was completely without provocation. Eblacas does not say whether he is awaiting trial for charges stemming from this incident, was charged and acquitted, was charged and convicted, or was never charged. He also fails to explain whether Officer Agbulos was investigated for this shooting and the results of such investigation. That is, whether Agbulos, if charged, is awaiting trial, was convicted, or was acquitted of such charges. These details are necessary to determine whether Eblacas states a plausible claim for relief.

         The Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to allow the court to understand Eblacas' claims against Officer Agbulos. See McHenry v. Renne,84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. To satisfy the requirements of Rule 8, a pleading must set forth a minimum factual or legal basis for each claim that is sufficient to give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claims are and the grounds on which they rest. While the court construes Eblacas' allegations liberally and affords him the benefit of any doubt, it will not speculate about Eblacas' claims, and has “no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.” Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004). While Eblacas need not plead the legal basis for a ...

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