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Bishop v. Mohave Mental Health Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 10, 2017

Ernest Bishop, Plaintiff,
Mohave Mental Health Incorporated, Defendant.


          Honorable John Z. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge.

         On October 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint and Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs. (Docs. 1, 2.) On December 16, 2016, the Court granted the Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs and dismissed the Complaint with leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 7.) On January 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8.)[1] The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for failure to comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court will provide Plaintiff with one more opportunity to file an amended complaint that states a claim for relief.

         I. Screening of IFP Complaints

         a. Legal Standards

         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); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting that section 1915(e) applies to all in forma pauperis complaints, not merely those filed by prisoners). Accordingly, “section 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.” Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127.

         Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that to state a claim for relief, a complaint must contain (1) “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, ” (2) “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” and (3) “a demand for the relief sought.” The complaint also 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)).

         The complaint must also provide each defendant with a fair opportunity to frame a responsive pleading. McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1176. Even where a complaint has the factual elements of a cause of action present but scattered throughout and not organized into a “short and plain statement of the claim, ” the Court may dismiss the complaint for failure to satisfy Rule 8. Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). Dismissal of the complaint is appropriate if it is so “verbose, confused, and redundant that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.” Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969).

         Additionally, Rule 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that:

A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. A later pleading may refer by number to a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence-and each defense other than a denial-must be stated in a separate count or defense.

         b. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is again comprised of a series of letters, is disjointed, and is very difficult to understand. Plaintiff appears to again complain that staff members for Mohave Mental Health Inc., Katrina Webb and/or Lauren Retzen, told Plaintiff that he was not allowed to attend religious services on March 24, 2013, without prior permission from his probation officer. Plaintiff appears to allege that Ms. Webb contacted Plaintiff's Pastor, “Mark, ” regarding Plaintiff's request, and although Mark stated he would come to Plaintiff's location and explain to the staff that he would be taking Plaintiff to religious services, he did not show up to Plaintiff's house and Plaintiff does not know why. Plaintiff also appears to assert that he needed a staff member to sign a pass for him to attend services that would be faxed over to his probation officer. Plaintiff states that he is asserting a First Amendment free exercise of religion claim, although he also generally references “eminent domain” and “due process.” Plaintiff also asserts that “I am a clinic of Southwest Behavior, so I wrote NHRBHA and let them know to file a grievance on my behalf.” Plaintiff claims, however, that he would like to proceed with this matter in “federal court or supreme court.” Although not entirely clear, based on the above, the Court again assumes Plaintiff attempts to bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides for a private right of action against a state actor for a constitutional violation.

         To prevail on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege facts supporting that (1) the conduct about which he complains was committed by a person acting under the color of state law, and (2) the conduct deprived him of a federal constitutional or statutory right. Wood v. Ostrander, 879 F.2d 583, 587 (9th Cir. 1989). In addition, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of the conduct of a particular defendant and he must allege an affirmative link between the injury and the conduct of that defendant. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976). The ultimate issue in determining whether an entity is subject to suit under § 1983 is the “same question posed in cases arising under the Fourteenth Amendment: is the alleged infringement of federal rights fairly attributable to the [government]?” Sutton v. Providence St. Jospeh Med. Ctr., 192 F.3d 826, 835 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 838 (1982)). For a court to answer in the affirmative, a plaintiff must show that two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation to the plaintiff by the entity “must result from a governmental policy, ” and (2) “the party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a [governmental] actor.” Sutton, 192 F.3d at 835 (citing Rendell-Baker, 457 U.S. at 838 (1982)).

         Municipalities and other local governmental entities may be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the acts of their officials only if a plaintiff can prove that the constitutional deprivation was the result of a custom or policy of the governmental entity. Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). A local government cannot be held liable for the acts of its employees under the theory of respondeat suprerior. Bd. Of County Comm'rs of Bryan Coutny Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997). Simply because a governmental entity employs a wrong-doing official does not create liability on behalf of the entity.

         Here, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to state a claim for relief under § 1983. As an initial matter, Plaintiff again fails in the Amended Complaint to specify the Defendant(s) he is attempting to sue. Plaintiff references Mohave Mental Health Inc. and two staff members in the body of his Amended Complaint.[2] However, Plaintiff fails to assert any allegations to show that either of those individuals, or Mohave Mental Health Inc., is a governmental actor. See Lee v. Katz, 276 F.3d 550, 554 (9th Cir. 2002) (private individual or group may be state actor when they perform function that is traditionally and exclusively governmental); Johnson v. Grays Harbor Community Hospital, 385 Fed.Appx. 647, 649 (9th Cir. 2010) (unpublished) (non-profit status of hospital alone did not make it a state actor for purposes of ยง 1983). Further, Plaintiff does not specifically allege what policy or custom Mohave Mental Health Inc. adopted and in what way it deprived Plaintiff of his rights, or the specific circumstances surrounding his living situation, his ...

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