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Miel v. Maricopa County Sheriff

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 3, 2014

Terry Miel, Plaintiff,
Maricopa County Sheriff, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT C. BROOMFIELD, Senior District Judge.

On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff Terry Miel, who is confined in the Federal Correctional Institution Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a December 27, 2013 Order, the Court granted the Application to Proceed and dismissed the Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On January 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 7). The Court will dismiss the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend.

I. 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.'" Id. (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 681.

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 )).

If the Court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) ( en banc ). The Court should not, however, advise the litigant how to cure the defects. This type of advice "would undermine district judges' role as impartial decisionmakers." Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); see also Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131 n.13 (declining to decide whether the court was required to inform a litigant of deficiencies). Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, but because it may possibly be amended to state a claim, the Court will dismiss it with leave to amend.

II. First Amended Complaint

In his two-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff appears to sue only Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, the only person or entity listed on page one of the Complaint. Plaintiff failed to include page two of the court-approved complaint form, wherein he is required to name all Defendants he is suing. Plaintiff seeks $1.5 million in compensation and release for alleged violations of his constitutional rights while confined at the Maricopa County Towers Jail in Phoenix, Arizona.

Plaintiff does not state when the alleged violations of his constitutional rights occurred, but in Count I he alleges that he was not served three meals a day and that Sheriff Arpaio's procedures allowed "only (one) hot meal with no calories count." Plaintiff received a bag of peanut butter and bread as a meal and "per Joseph M. Arpaio [Plaintiff] was denied [his] relishes (sic) meal." Plaintiff received a hot meal "per Josep[h] M. Arpaio" with foreign objects and "no calories count." Plaintiff alleges that he suffered extreme weight loss, a chipped tooth, and a broken lower denture, and that it is very hard to eat with no teeth.

In Count III, [1] Plaintiff alleges that he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care and that Arpaio instructed the medical staff to deny Plaintiff medical treatment for a broken tooth, a broken lower denture, or a TB test. According to Plaintiff, Detention Officers said they are instructed by Arpaio "that indigent hygiene[e] is not available for 3 weeks" and they do not supply toothpaste, a comb, or shampoo.

III. Failure to Comply with Rules and Instructions in the First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff has failed to comply with the rules and instructions for completing the court-approved form complaint. Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of [each] claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To comply with Rule 8, a plaintiff should set forth "who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery." McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). The Instructions for completing the court-approved form complaint state in relevant part:

Local Rule of Civil Procedure (LRCiv) 3.4(a) provides that complaints by incarcerated persons must be filed on the court-approved form. The form must be typed or neatly handwritten. The form must be completely filled in to the extent applicable. All questions must be answered clearly and concisely in the appropriate space on the form. If needed, you may attach additional pages, but no more than fifteen additional pages, of standard letter-sized paper. You must identify which part of the complaint is being continued and number all pages. If you do not fill out the form ...

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