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Hooks v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 28, 2014

JEROME HOOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN WILLIAMS, Defendant.

ORDER

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

This pro se prisoner civil rights action by a Nevada state inmate comes before the Court for initial review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court defers action on the pauper application at this time.

Screening Standard

When a "prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, " the court must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

In considering whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, all material factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true for purposes of initial review and are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Russell v. Landrieu, 621 F.2d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 1980). However, mere legal conclusions unsupported by any actual allegations of fact are not assumed to be true in reviewing the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-81 (2009). That is, conclusory assertions that constitute merely formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action and that are devoid of further factual enhancement are not accepted as true and do not state a claim for relief. Id.

Further, the factual allegations must state a plausible claim for relief, meaning that the well-pleaded facts must permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct:

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." [ Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).] A claim has facial plausibility 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., at 556.... The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id., at 557... (brackets omitted).
... [W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not "show[n]" - "that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Allegations of a pro se complainant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

Discussion

In addition to the foregoing, the Court notes that, under Local Rule LSR 2-1, a plaintiff filing a civil rights action must use the Court's required civil rights complaint form. A plaintiff must respond to all inquiries in the complaint form, and he must follow all instructions in the complaint form. Inter alia, the instructions for the complaint form permit a plaintiff to assert only one constitutional violation per count.

Moreover, Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading must contain a short and plain statement of the claims presented and relief sought. While a pleading can violate the rule by saying too little, a pleading also can violate the rule by saying too much or failing to state claims clearly. Opaque, prolix and/or confusing complaints thus are subject to potential dismissal under Rule 8(a), as such pleadings impose unfair burdens on judges and litigants in screening and responding to the pleading. See, e.g., Knapp v. Hogan, 738 F.3d 1106, 1109 (9th Cir. 2013).

In the present case, plaintiff has failed to follow the instructions for the complaint form; and he further has filed a complaint that, while not overly prolix, is opaque and confusing. The complaint in particular is full of non sequiturs - meaning that defendants, claims and ...


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