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Ellington v. Smith

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 9, 2016

Christopher M. Ellington, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Mesa Police Officer T. Smith; Officer John Doe; Officer P. Carroll; Officer K. Kennedy; Officer T. Dangerfield; Sgt. Redwing; Chief John Meza; City of Mesa Prosecutor Stephen Bridger; Judge Lisa Johnson; and City of Mesa, a municipal entity, Defendants.

ORDER

Neil V. Wake United States District Judge

Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 2), which will be granted.

Plaintiff’s Complaint (Doc. 1) must be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) before it is allowed to be served. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s Complaint will be dismissed with permission to file an amended complaint by May 30, 2016.

I. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

For cases proceeding in forma pauperis, Congress provided that a district court “shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines” that the “allegation of poverty is untrue” or that the “action or appeal” is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). While much of section 1915 outlines how prisoners can file proceedings in forma pauperis, section 1915(e) applies to all in forma pauperis proceedings, not just those filed by prisoners. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000). “It is also clear that section 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim” on which relief may be granted. Id. at 1127.

A complaint, containing “both factual allegations and legal conclusions, is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Furthermore, “a finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). “A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).

B. Rule 8, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

A complaint filed in a United States district court must include “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). The complaint must also include “a demand for the relief sought . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(3). Finally, a complaint 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). Each claim must be stated in a separate count. Bautista v. Los Angeles Cnty., 216 F.3d 837, 840-41 (9th Cir. 2000). For example, a claim of slander should be separated from a claim for physical assault.

The complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plaintiff must allege facts sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Even where a complaint has the factual elements of a cause of action present but scattered throughout the complaint and not organized into a “short and plain statement of the claim, ” it may be dismissed for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a). Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988).

“Each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). Allegations must be set forth in numbered paragraphs. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Plaintiff’s Complaint

Plaintiff’s Complaint (Doc. 1) does not satisfy the federal pleading requirements. The “Statement of Relevant Facts” (id. at 4–16), although it does contain relevant facts, also contains several irrelevant facts and conclusory allegations. It is also repetitive, and allegations relating to any given cause of action are somewhat scattered. The “Counts” (id. at 16–28) set forth overbroad legal theories. They are also ...


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