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Dudley v. Mooney

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 22, 2014

Damien Lakieth Dudley, Plaintiff,
v.
Wayne Mooney, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

On July 30, 2014, Plaintiff Damien Lakieth Dudley, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint (Doc. 1, Attach. 1, Ex. C) in the Maricopa County Superior Court against Deputy Warden Wayne Mooney, and the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC). On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a "First Amended Special Action Complaint" (Doc. 1, Attach. 1, Ex. C) in Maricopa County Superior Court against Deputy Warden Wayne Mooney and the State of Arizona. On September 11, 2014, the ADOC filed a Notice of Removal based on federal question jurisdiction and paid the $400.00 filing fee. The ADOC states that it was served with the original Complaint on August 11, 2014.[1] The ADOC's counsel indicates that he is not aware of service on any of the remaining Defendants.

The ADOC's counsel fails to address the fact that the ADOC is not a named Defendant in the First Amended Special Action Complaint filed in state court and, in the Notice of Removal, refers to Plaintiff's claims in both the original Complaint and the First Amended Special Action Complaint. As such, it is difficult for the Court to determine whether the ADOC properly removed this case. Nonetheless, referral to the Maricopa County Superior Court docket indicates that Plaintiff's First Amended Special Action Complaint was filed outside the time frame allowed by Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) and the Maricopa County Superior Court docket still lists Defendants as the ADOC and Wayne Mooney. See The Judicial Branch of Arizona, Maricopa County, Civil Court Case Information Case History, available at http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/CivilCourtCases/caseInfo.asp (last visited Dec. 18, 2014). Moreover, Plaintiff has not moved to remand within thirty days of the Notice of Removal, so the Court assumes the ADOC was a proper Defendant at the time of removal.[2]

After removal, Plaintiff filed a "First Amended Complaint" (Doc. 7) on this Court's form alleging claims against Deputy Warden Wayne Mooney, the ADOC, and Sergeant John Doe. The Court will consider this "First Amended Complaint" to be the operative Complaint and will screen it accordingly. Because Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint prior to screening, it is the operative complaint and the Court will treat the original Complaint and the First Amended Special Action Complaint as nonexistent. See Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992).

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.

Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a "short and plain statement of the claim." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(d)(1) states that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct." A complaint having the factual elements of a cause of action scattered throughout the complaint and not organized into a "short and plain statement of the claim" may be dismissed for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a). See Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988); see also McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172 (9th Cir. 1996). 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). It is not the responsibility of the Court to review a rambling narrative in an attempt to determine the number and nature of a plaintiff's claims.

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 )).

II. Complaint

In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges one count against Deputy Warden Wayne Mooney, the ADOC, and Sergeant John Doe. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, costs, and fees.

In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were violated as follows: On July 6, 2013, he was charged with violating rule "11-B Disrupting Institution Count and/or Being Out of Place." Plaintiff contends that at his disciplinary hearing, Sergeant John Doe denied Plaintiff's requests to see the Disciplinary Hearing Officer and seek the testimony of relevant witnesses. Plaintiff was found guilty of the violation. Doe told Plaintiff "the next time an officer tells [him] to drop [his] grievances[, he] should listen [and] not file a grievance against that officer for retaliation." Plaintiff asked Doe for the forms to appeal the disciplinary charge; Doe smiled at Plaintiff and told him that Doe "would have to get back to [Plaintiff] on that one." Plaintiff then wrote to Defendant Mooney requesting the appeal form; Mooney never responded to this request.

In the remainder of his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff does not allege any facts against any of the named Defendants and, as a result, has failed to state a claim against the named Defendants in the remainder of his allegations.[ ...


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