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Davis v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 8, 2014

Michael Dean Davis, Plaintiff,
v.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Defendant.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Dean Davis, who is confined in the Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, filed a pro se Complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court, matter number CV13-003309. (Doc. 1-1, Ex. 1.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserted violations of the U.S. Constitution and sued the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). MCSO timely removed the case to federal court based on federal question subject matter jurisdiction on September 4, 2013. Plaintiff later filed two requests for entry and application of default, to which MCSO filed a response.[1]

The Complaint facially supports that subject matter jurisdiction is proper in federal court and that the case was timely removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The Court will dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim with leave to amend.

I. Removal to Federal Court was Proper

A defendant may remove any civil action brought in state court over which the federal court would have original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §1441(a). That is, a civil action that could have originally been brought in federal court may be removed from state to federal court. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). A federal court has original jurisdiction "of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

The Complaint in this case facially supports that subject matter jurisdiction exists in federal court because Plaintiff alleges violation of his federal constitutional rights. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441. Further, the case was timely removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Accordingly, the case was properly removed.

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.'" 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 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.

III. Complaint

Plaintiff alleges one count for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights in connection with disciplinary proceedings at the jail, which resulted in a higher custody level. As noted above, Plaintiff sues only MCSO. Plaintiff ...


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