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Grindling v. County of Maui

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 27, 2019

CHRIS GRINDLING, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MAUI; DOE POLICE OFFICERS; DOE PROSECUTORS, Defendants.

          ORDER (1) DISMISSING COMPLAINT; (2) GRANTING IFP REQUEST; AND (3) DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR CIVIL SCREENING AND SERVICE ORDER (1) DISMISSING COMPLAINT; (2) GRANTING IFP REQUEST; AND (3) DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR CIVIL SCREENING AND SERVICE

          JILL A. OTAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Chris Grindling's (“Plaintiff”) (1) request to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Request”), filed August 9, 2019, and (2) Motion for Civil Screening and Service, filed August 19, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint, GRANTS the IFP Request, and DENIES AS MOOT the Motion for Civil Screening.

         BACKGROUND

         In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his First, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Compl. at 4. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that he was starved and arrested and “was placed under constant threat of hundreds of years in prison subjected to repeated drug tests while on [b]ail.” Id. These allegations are identical to those asserted in a previously filed action: Grindling v. County of Maui, Civil No. 18-00235 JMS-RLP.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Dismissal of the Complaint Under the In Forma Pauperis Statute - 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         Plaintiff requests leave to proceed in forma pauperis. A court may deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset and dismiss the complaint if it appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Tripati v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987); Minetti v. Port of Seattle, 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998). When evaluating whether a complaint fails to state a viable claim for screening purposes, the Court applies Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 8's pleading standard as it does in the context of an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012).

         FRCP 8(a) requires “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction” and “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(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, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). “The Federal Rules require that averments ‘be simple, concise and direct.'” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). FRCP 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations. However, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (citations and quotations omitted). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.

         In the present case, even construing Plaintiff's Complaint liberally, Bernhardt v. Los Angeles Cty., 339 F.3d 920, 925 (9th Cir. 2003); Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 757 (9th Cir. 2003), the Court finds that dismissal is appropriate because the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff asserts, in conclusory fashion, that Defendants violated his First Thirteen, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Section 1983 states:

Every person, who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Substantive rights are not created by this provision; “rather it is the vehicle by whereby plaintiffs can challenge actions by governmental officials.” Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 978 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation and quotations omitted). “To state a claim under § 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.” Long v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).

         Here, the Complaint is devoid of facts to support Plaintiff's legal claims. While Plaintiff alleges violations of his Constitutional rights under the First, Thirteen, and Fourteenth Amendments, he has not stated how Defendants violated those rights. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES these claims. Allegations pertaining to the Thirteenth Amendment are dismissed without leave to amend because the Thirteenth Amendment is irrelevant; it prohibits any state laws establishing or upholding slavery and is “ an absolute declaration that slavery or involuntary servitude shall not exist in any part of the United States.” City of Memphis v. Greene, 451 U.S. 100, 120 (1981) (citation omitted). Although Plaintiff's limited and incoherent allegations do not implicate the First Amendment nor adequately identify the basis for a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court dismisses those claims with leave to amend.

         Plaintiff also names Doe Police Officers and Doe Prosecutors as Defendants. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not authorize or prohibit the use of fictitious parties but FRCP 10 requires a plaintiff to include the names of all parties in his complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). Doe defendants are generally disfavored, however, because it is effectively impossible for the United States Marshal to serve an anonymous defendant.

         A plaintiff may refer to unknown defendants as Defendant John Doe 1, John Doe 2, John Doe 3, and so on, but he must allege specific facts showing how each particular doe defendant violated his rights. A plaintiff may then use the discovery process to obtain the names of doe defendants and seek leave to amend to name those defendants, unless it is clear that discovery will not uncover the identities, or that the complaint will be dismissed on other grounds. See ...


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