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De La Rosa v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 15, 2015

Rodney Cabrera De La Rosa, Plaintiff,
v.
Joseph M. Arpaio, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Rodney Cabrera De La Rosa, who is confined in the Maricopa County Durango Jail, has filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). The Court will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Filing Fee

Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Plaintiff must pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $8.00. The remainder of the fee will be collected monthly in payments of 20% of the previous month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The Court will enter a separate Order requiring the appropriate government agency to collect and forward the fees according to the statutory formula.

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 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

In his three-count Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio; Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Employees and Staff; Durango Jail Staff; and Sergeant B1492.

In Count One, Plaintiff claims he only receives two meals per day. In Count Two, Plaintiff claims the indoor temperature is too low. In Count Three, Plaintiff alleges Defendant B1492 "is the bearer of false witness." Plaintiff claims that after he complained about the temperature to Defendant B1492, Defendant told him that no one else was cold. Plaintiff claims this was a false statement. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

IV. Failure to State a Claim

A. Defendants

1. Arpaio

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). There is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983, and therefore, a defendant's position as the supervisor of persons who allegedly violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights does not impose liability. Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978); Hamilton v. Endell, 981 F.2d 1062, 1067 (9th Cir. 1992); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). "Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676.

Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendant Arpaio personally participated in a deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights, was aware of a deprivation and failed to act, or formed policies that resulted in Plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff has therefore failed to state a claim against Defendant Arpaio.

2. MCSO Staff and Durango Jail Staff

As explained above, 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. Accordingly, "MCSO Staff" and "Durango Jail Staff" are not proper defendants. Plaintiff must identify individual defendants and describe what each individual did or failed to do that violated his constitutional rights.

B. Conditions of Confinement

A pretrial detainee's claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement arises from the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause rather than from the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 and n.16 (1979). Nevertheless, the same standards are applied, requiring proof that the defendant acted with deliberate indifference. See Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998).

Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994). To state a claim of deliberate indifference, plaintiffs must meet a two-part test. "First, the alleged constitutional deprivation must be, objectively, sufficiently serious"; and the "official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. at 834 (internal quotations omitted). Second, the prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable state of mind, " i.e., he must act with "deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety." Id. (internal quotations omitted). In defining "deliberate indifference" in this context, the Supreme Court has imposed a subjective test: "the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837 (emphasis added).

Plaintiff's allegations are not sufficient to state a Fourteenth Amendment claim because he has failed to allege facts showing that a specific, individually named Defendant was aware of a serious risk of harm to Plaintiff and failed to act. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim in any of his three grounds for relief.

V. Leave to Amend

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Within 30 days, Plaintiff may submit a first amended complaint to cure the deficiencies outlined above. The Clerk of Court will mail Plaintiff a court-approved form to use for filing a first amended complaint. If Plaintiff fails to use the court-approved form, the Court may strike the amended complaint and dismiss this action without further notice to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff must clearly designate on the face of the document that it is the "First Amended Complaint." The first amended complaint must be retyped or rewritten in its entirety on the court-approved form and may not incorporate any part of the original Complaint by reference. Plaintiff may include only one claim per count.

In each count, Plaintiff must write short, plain statements telling the Court: (1) the constitutional right Plaintiff believes was violated; (2) the name of the Defendant who violated the right; (3) exactly what that Defendant did or failed to do; (4) how the action or inaction of that Defendant is connected to the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional right; and (5) what specific injury Plaintiff suffered because of that Defendant's conduct. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).

Plaintiff must repeat this process for each person he names as a Defendant. If Plaintiff fails to affirmatively link the conduct of each named Defendant with the specific injury suffered by Plaintiff, the allegations against that Defendant will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Conclusory allegations that a Defendant or group of Defendants has violated a constitutional right are not acceptable and will be dismissed.

A first amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992); Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1990). After amendment, the Court will treat an original complaint as nonexistent. Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262. Any cause of action that was raised in the original complaint and that was voluntarily dismissed or was dismissed without prejudice is waived if it is not alleged in a first amended complaint. Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc).

VI. Motion

On May 4, 2015, Plaintiff a "Motion to Request Reply" in which he asks that the Court rule in his favor because Defendants have not replied to his lawsuit. The Court has not yet completed statutory screening and Defendants have not been served. The Court will therefore deny the Motion. Plaintiff should note that Defendants are not required to file a response to this lawsuit until instructed to do so by the Court.

VII. Warnings

A. Release

Plaintiff must pay the unpaid balance of the filing fee within 120 days of his release. Also, within 30 days of his release, he must either (1) notify the Court that he intends to pay the balance or (2) show good cause, in writing, why he cannot. Failure to comply may result in dismissal of this action.

B. Address Changes

Plaintiff must file and serve a notice of a change of address in accordance with Rule 83.3(d) of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff must not include a motion for other relief with a notice of change of address. Failure to comply may result in dismissal of this action.

C. Copies

Plaintiff must submit an additional copy of every filing for use by the Court. See LRCiv 5.4. Failure to comply may result in the filing being stricken without further notice to Plaintiff.

D. Possible "Strike"

Because the Complaint has been dismissed for failure to state a claim, if Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies identified in this Order, the dismissal may count as a "strike" under the "3-strikes" provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Under the 3-strikes provision, a prisoner may not bring a civil action or appeal a civil judgment in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 "if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

E. Possible Dismissal

If Plaintiff fails to timely comply with every provision of this Order, including these warnings, the Court may dismiss this action without further notice. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260-61 (a district court may dismiss an action for failure to comply with any order of the Court).

IT IS ORDERED:

(1) Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2) is granted.

(2) As required by the accompanying Order to the appropriate government agency, Plaintiff must pay the $350.00 filing fee and is assessed an initial partial filing fee of $8.00.

(3) Plaintiff's "Motion to Request Reply" (Doc. 5) is denied.

(4) The Complaint (Doc. 1) is dismissed for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff has 30 days from the date this Order is filed to file a first amended complaint in compliance with this Order.

(5) If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within 30 days, the Clerk of Court must, without further notice, enter a judgment of dismissal of this action with prejudice that states that the dismissal may count as a "strike" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

(6) The Clerk of Court must mail Plaintiff a court-approved form for filing a civil rights complaint by a prisoner.

Instructions for a Prisoner Filing a Civil Rights Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona

1. Who May Use This Form. The civil rights complaint form is designed to help incarcerated persons prepare a complaint seeking relief for a violation of their federal civil rights. These complaints typically concern, but are not limited to, conditions of confinement. This form should not be used to challenge your conviction or sentence. If you want to challenge a state conviction or sentence, you should file a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in state custody. If you want to challenge a federal conviction or sentence, you should file a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate sentence in the federal court that entered the judgment.

2. The Form. 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 properly, you will be asked to submit additional or corrected information, which may delay the processing of your action. You do not need to cite law.

3. Your Signature. You must tell the truth and sign the form. If you make a false statement of a material fact, you may be prosecuted for perjury.

4. The Filing and Administrative Fees. The total fees for this action are $400.00 ($350.00 filing fee plus $50.00 administrative fee). If you are unable to immediately pay the fees, you may request leave to proceed in forma pauperis . Please review the "Information for Prisoners Seeking Leave to Proceed with a (Non-Habeas) Civil Action in Federal Court In Forma Pauperis Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915" for additional instructions.

5. Original and Judge's Copy. You must send an original plus one copy of your complaint and of any other documents submitted to the Court. You must send one additional copy to the Court if you wish to have a file-stamped copy of the document returned to you. All copies must be identical to the original. Copies may be legibly handwritten.

6. Where to File. You should file your complaint in the division where you were confined when your rights were allegedly violated. See LRCiv 5.1(a) and 77.1(a). If you were confined in Maricopa, Pinal, Yuma, La Paz, or Gila County, file in the Phoenix Division. If you were confined in Apache, Navajo, Coconino, Mohave, or Yavapai County, file in the Prescott Division. If you were confined in Pima, Cochise, Santa Cruz, Graham, or Greenlee County, file in the Tucson Division. Mail the original and one copy of the complaint with the $400 filing and administrative fees or the application to proceed in forma pauperis to:

7. Change of Address. You must immediately notify the Court and the defendants in writing of any change in your mailing address. Failure to notify the Court of any change in your mailing address may result in the dismissal of your case.

8. Certificate of Service. You must furnish the defendants with a copy of any document you submit to the Court (except the initial complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis ). Each original document (except the initial complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis ) must include a certificate of service on the last page of the document stating the date a copy of the document was mailed to the defendants and the address to which it was mailed. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(a), (d). Any document received by the Court that does not include a certificate of service may be stricken. A certificate of service should be in the following form:

9. Amended Complaint. If you need to change any of the information in the initial complaint, you must file an amended complaint. The amended complaint must be written on the court-approved civil rights complaint form. You may file one amended complaint without leave (permission) of Court before any defendant has answered your original complaint. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). After any defendant has filed an answer, you must file a motion for leave to amend and lodge (submit) a proposed amended complaint. LRCiv 15.1. In addition, an amended complaint may not incorporate by reference any part of your prior complaint. LRCiv 15.1(a)(2). Any allegations or defendants not included in the amended complaint are considered dismissed. All amended complaints are subject to screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act; screening your amendment will take additional processing time.

10. Exhibits. You should not submit exhibits with the complaint or amended complaint. Instead, the relevant information should be paraphrased. You should keep the exhibits to use to support or oppose a motion to dismiss, a motion for summary judgment, or at trial.

11. Letters and Motions. It is generally inappropriate to write a letter to any judge or the staff of any judge. The only appropriate way to communicate with the Court is by filing a written pleading or motion.

12. Completing the Civil Rights Complaint Form.

HEADING:

1. Your Name. Print your name, prison or inmate number, and institutional mailing address on the lines provided.
2. Defendants. If there are four or fewer defendants, print the name of each. If you name more than four defendants, print the name of the first defendant on the first line, write the words "and others" on the second line, and attach an additional page listing the names of all of the defendants. Insert the additional page after page 1 and number it "1-A" at the bottom.
3. Jury Demand. If you want a jury trial, you must write "JURY TRIAL DEMANDED" in the space below "CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT BY A PRISONER." Failure to do so may result in the loss of the right to a jury trial. A jury trial is not available if you are seeking only injunctive relief.

Part A. JURISDICTION:

1. Nature of Suit. Mark whether you are filing the complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for state, county, or city defendants; "Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents" for federal defendants; or "other." If you mark "other, " identify the source of that authority.
2. Location. Identify the institution and city where the alleged violation of your rights occurred.
3. Defendants. Print all of the requested information about each of the defendants in the spaces provided. If you are naming more than four defendants, you must provide the necessary information about each additional defendant on separate pages labeled "2-A, " "2-B, " etc., at the bottom. Insert the additional page(s) immediately behind page 2.

Part B. PREVIOUS LAWSUITS:

You must identify any other lawsuit you have filed in either state or federal court while you were a prisoner. Print all of the requested information about each lawsuit in the spaces provided. If you have filed more than three lawsuits, you must provide the necessary information about each additional lawsuit on a separate page. Label the page(s) as "2-A, " "2-B, " etc., at the bottom of the page and insert the additional page(s) immediately behind page 2.

Part C. CAUSE OF ACTION:

You must identify what rights each defendant violated. The form provides space to allege three separate counts (one violation per count). If you are alleging more than three counts, you must provide the necessary information about each additional count on a separate page. Number the additional pages "5-A, " "5-B, " etc., and insert them immediately behind page 5. Remember that you are limited to a total of fifteen additional pages.

1. Counts. You must identify which civil right was violated. You may allege the violation of only one civil right per count.
2. Issue Involved. Check the box that most closely identifies the issue involved in your claim. You may check only one box per count. If you check the box marked "Other, " you must identify the specific issue involved.
3. Supporting Facts. After you have identified which civil right was violated, you must state the supporting facts. Be as specific as possible. You must state what each individual defendant did to violate your rights. If there is more than one defendant, you must identify which defendant did what act. You also should state the date(s) on which the act(s) occurred, if possible.
4. Injury. State precisely how you were injured by the alleged violation of your rights.
5. Administrative Remedies. You must exhaust any available administrative remedies before you file a civil rights complaint. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. Consequently, you should disclose whether you have exhausted the inmate grievance procedures or administrative appeals for each count in your complaint. If the grievance procedures were not available for any of your counts, fully explain why on the lines provided.

Part D. REQUEST FOR RELIEF:

Print the relief you are seeking in the space provided.

SIGNATURE:

You must sign your name and print the date you signed the complaint. Failure to sign the complaint will delay the processing of your action. Unless you are an attorney, you may not bring an action on behalf of anyone but yourself.

FINAL NOTE

You should follow these instructions carefully. Failure to do so may result in your complaint being stricken or dismissed. All questions must be answered concisely in the proper space on the form. If you need more space, you may attach no more than fifteen additional pages. But the form must be completely filled in to the extent applicable. If you attach additional pages, be sure to identify which section of the complaint is being continued and number the pages.


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