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Gonzales v. City of Mesa

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 2, 2014

Jesse Gonzales, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
City of Mesa, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

STEVEN P. LOGAN, District Judge.

On March 18, 2013, Plaintiff Jesse Gonzales, Jr., who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court. On March 11, 2014, Defendants Ferrell, City of Mesa Police Department, Higgins, and Sherwood removed the action to this Court.

On April 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Doc. 6) and lodged a First Amended Complaint. The Court will grant the Motion for Leave to Amend, direct the Clerk of Court to file the First Amended Complaint, and dismiss the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Removal to Federal Court

Title 28 U.S.C. § 1441 authorizes removal of any civil action brought in the state court over which the federal district courts would have original jurisdiction. "Only... actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the defendant." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Absent diversity of citizenship (not present here), federal question jurisdiction is required. Federal district courts have original jurisdiction over all civil actions arising under the Constitution of the United States pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, including those actions where the plaintiff has requested a remedy under state law for an alleged violation of a federal substantive right. Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust, 255 U.S. 180, 199 (1921).

Plaintiff claims violations of his constitutional rights and has not objected to removal. The Court finds removal was proper.

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 ). 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.

III. First Amended Complaint

In his four-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Mesa Police Officers Ferrell, Savage, Higgins, and Sherwood; Supervisors J. Calkins, ...


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