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Maloney v. Ryan

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 28, 2013

Erik Scott Maloney, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al. Defendants.


ROBERT C. BROOMFIELD, Senior District Judge.


Plaintiff pro se Erik Scott Maloney is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence in Florence, Arizona. On February 12, 2013, he filed a three count civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming five defendants. Plaintiff is alleging various constitutional violations, as well as a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Basically, those alleged violations stem from a claimed Arizona Department of Corrections ("ADOC") policy or regulation which plaintiff claims does not accommodate his meal and prayer requirements during the month of Ramadan. In its screening order, the court ordered that only three of the five named defendants were required to file an answer. See Ord. (Doc. 5) at 7, ¶ (4). Those defendants are Charles L. Ryan, ADOC Director; Mike Linderman, ADOC Administrator of Pastoral Activities; and Wayne Mason, East Unit Chaplain at Florence Complex. See Co. (Doc. 1) at 3, ¶¶ 1-2; and at 2, ¶ 5. To date, there is nothing in the record showing that any of those three defendants have been served with the complaint.

On June 13, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for a temporary restraining order "and/or" a preliminary injunction.[1] Mot. (Doc. 8) at 1. The plaintiff broadly seeks a TRO "requiring the defendants to accommodate meal requirements of [M]uslim practitioners in accordance to [sic] the tenets of their religion." Id. at 6:10-12 (footnote added). Because Ramadan commences on July 9, 2013, this year, Mot. (Doc. 8) at 1:25, the court ordered the expedited filing of a response and reply, if any. See Ord. (Doc. 9). Although the defendants' responses were due on June 26, 2013, due to the State's "internal administrative process[, ]" counsel for defendants Linderman and Ryan, Neil Singh, Assistant Attorney General, did not see this court's order until June 27, 2013. Mot. (Doc. 12) at 1:21-25. Mr. Singh then promptly filed an "Emergency Motion for Extended Time Re[:] Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order" (Doc. 12).

In the meantime, on June 25, 2013, plaintiff Maloney filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") (Doc. 11).[2] That single count complaint alleges strictly a violation of RLUIPA against a single defendant, Mr. Ryan. The plaintiff alleges that defendant Ryan rescinded an ADOC policy regarding inmates' possession of religious books, "substantially burdening" the "religious exercise of Dawwah[, ]" which is "require[d] [of] [M]uslim practitioner[s][.]" FAC (Doc. 11) at 4:10; at 3, ¶ 3. The ramifications of the FAC are discussed below, including how the court intends to proceed given that recent filing by the plaintiff.


Preliminarily, the court observes that plaintiff's FAC does not comport with LRCiv 15.1(b). That Rule requires, among other things, "a separate notice of filing the amended complaint[, ]" to which a copy of the amended pleading is attached. LRCiv 15.1(b). Plaintiff Maloney did not do that, however. Despite the requirements of that Rule, plaintiff Maloney also did not "indicate[] in what respect [the FAC] differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through the text that was deleted and underlining the text that was added." See id.

Plaintiff's failure to comply with that Local Rule is troubling, but his situation is further complicated by the manner in which he presents the FAC. As just mentioned, it contains a single RLUIPA count, designated as "Count IV[, ]" and lists only Mr. Ryan as a defendant. FAC (Doc. 11) at 3. The FAC is void of any mention of Ramadan whatsoever. On the other hand, plaintiff's original complaint, set forth three counts, enumerated as Counts I, II, and III - all pertaining to Ramadan, and listed five defendants, including Mr. Ryan. Because the FAC does not mention any of those original three counts pertaining to Ramadan, and because it begins with Count IV, presumably, the plaintiff intends the FAC to be a continuation of the complaint and that the two complaints be read together.

While perhaps a logical presumption for a layperson, settled law undermines such a presumption. That is because "the general rule is that an amended complaint supercedes the original complaint and renders it without legal effect [.]" Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty. , 693 F.3d 896, 927 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc) (emphasis added); see also Valadez-Lopez v. Chertoff , 656 F.3d 851, 857 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citations omitted) ("[I]t is well-established that an amended complaint supersedes the original, the latter being treated thereafter as non-existent."). Simply put, "[o]nce an amended complaint is filed, the original pleading no longer serves any function in the case." Hasegawa v. State of Hawaii, 2011 WL 2020715, at *1 n. 1 (D.Hawai'i May 24, 2011).

Application of that rule here means that plaintiff's FAC, which is void of any allegations pertaining to Ramadan, supercedes his original complaint, which focused solely on Ramadan issues. Consequently, because plaintiff's original complaint "no longer serves any function in this case[, ]" it cannot form the basis for his pending TRO motion seeking relief solely related to Ramadan. See id. Thus, the court VACATES its order filed July 20, 2013 (Doc. 9), ordering expedited briefing as to plaintiff's TRO motion and DENIES that motion as moot.[3] Likewise, the court DENIES as moot the emergency motion by defendants Linderman (Doc. 12). As explained below, however, because the court is granting plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint, this order does not preclude the filing of a motion for a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction at a later date.

"Pro se litigants must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants." King v. Atiyeh , 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled on other grounds by Lacey , 693 F.3d 896; see also Ghazali v. Moran , 46 F.3d 52 (9th Cir. 1995) ("pro se litigants are bound by the rules of procedure."). At the same time, however, the court recognizes its obligation to "ensure that pro se litigants do not unwittingly fall victim to procedural requirements." Waters v. Young , 100 F.3d 1437, 1441 (9th Cir. 1996). Balancing those competing concerns, the court finds that "justice requires" allowing plaintiff to file a second amended complaint, if he so chooses. See Fed R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).

Based upon the foregoing, the court HEREBY ORDERS that:

(1) the order filed June 20, 2013 (Doc. 9), requiring expedited briefing as to plaintiff's TRO motion is VACATED;

(2) the "Emergency Motion for Extended Time Re[:] Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order" by defendants Linderman ...

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