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Corral v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 23, 2013

Gabriel Canales Corral, Plaintiff,
v.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. 29). Defendants have filed a response (Doc. 32), to which Plaintiff has filed a reply (Doc. 37). The motion will be granted, and the Court will call for an answer from Defendants Karac, Vasquez, and Mora.[1]

I. Motion for Leave to Amend

On January 9, 2013, Plaintiff, who is confined in the Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court screened Plaintiff's Complaint in an Order (Doc. 7) filed on April 17, 2013. In the screening order, the Court found that Plaintiff stated a claim against Defendants Vasquez and Karac ( id. ), and Defendants filed an Answer on July 19, 2013 (Doc. 16). On September 17, 2013, Plaintiff moved for leave to file an amended complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and has lodged a proposed First Amended Complaint (Doc. 29).

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "leave [to amend a pleading] shall be freely given when justice so requires." "In deciding whether justice requires granting leave to amend, factors to be considered include the presence or absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party and futility of the proposed amendment." Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). A court need not prolong litigation by permitting further amendment where such amendment would be futile. Lipton v. Pathogenesis Corp., 284 F.3d 1027, 1039 (9th Cir. 2002). "However, a proposed amendment is futile only if no set of facts can be proved under the amendment to the pleadings that would constitute a valid and sufficient claim or defense." Miller v. Rykoff-Sexton, Inc., 845 F.2d 209, 214 (9th Cir. 1988). Granting or denying a motion to amend is a matter within the court's discretion. See, e.g., Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 680 (9th Cir. 2010); Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of Amer., 232 F.3d 719, 725 (9th Cir. 2000).

In the proposed First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges two counts for relief seeking monetary damages. For the reasons below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims, liberally construed, state a claim for relief. Therefore, the motion for leave will be granted. Further, to the extent that Plaintiff requests to amend his complaint without indicating in what respect the amended complaint "differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through the text to be deleted and underlining the text to be added" pursuant to Rule 15.1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court finds good cause and grants his request in this instance only.

Granting leave to amend, Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint supersedes the original complaint in its entirety. See Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1990); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260-62 (9th Cir. 1992) (after amendment, the court treats the original complaint as nonexistent). Any cause of action raised in the original complaint but not raised in the first amended complaint is deemed waived. See King, 814 F.2d at 567.

II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

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) (emphasis added). 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, 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.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). 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." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 680.

But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "continue to construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A "complaint [filed by a pro se prisoner] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ( per curiam )). Nonetheless, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972), conclusory and vague allegations will not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). A liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled. Id.

III. First Amended Complaint

To state a valid claim under § 1983, plaintiffs must allege that they suffered a specific injury as a result of specific conduct of a defendant and show an affirmative link between the injury and the conduct of that defendant. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976). "[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the ...


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