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Hess v. Metropolitan Police Dept.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 31, 2019

DILON A. HESS, Plaintiff,
METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPT., et al ., Defendants.



         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Dilon Hess' Application to Proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 5). Attached to Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application is a Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (Non-Prisoner) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No 5-1).


         Plaintiff submitted the declaration required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) showing an inability to prepay fees and costs or give security for them. Therefore, the Court grants Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis.


         Upon granting a request to proceed in forma pauperis, a court must screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In screening the complaint, a court must identify cognizable claims and dismiss claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2) incorporates the standard for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To survive § 1915 review, a 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). The court liberally construes pro se complaints and may only dismiss them “if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal citation omitted).

         In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys. Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted). Although the standard under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) does not require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Id. Unless it is clear the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured through amendment, a pro se plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with notice regarding the complaint's deficiencies. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).


         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and statute. Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466, 489 (2004). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal courts have original jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Cases “arise under” federal law either when federal law creates the cause of action or where the vindication of a right under state law necessarily turns on the construction of federal law. Republican Party of Guam v. Gutierrez, 277 F.3d 1086, 1088-89 (9th Cir. 2002). Whether federal-question jurisdiction exists is based on the “well-pleaded complaint rule, ” which provides that “federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987).

         Plaintiff's Complaint asserts 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ECF No. 5-1 at 4-6. Plaintiff's claims clearly arise under federal law, and therefore, the Court has jurisdiction over those claims.


         In screening Plaintiff's Complaint and construing it liberally, the Court looks in part to the attachments provided. Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007) (courts may generally consider allegations contained in pleadings, as well as exhibits attached to the complaint). Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application is accompanied by a Complaint asserting violations of civil rights, which, upon review, allege Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claims against Defendants Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”), “Detective D. Hawkins, ” and “Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.” ECF No. 5-1 at 4-6.

         The Court finds that LVMPD could be a properly named defendant if Plaintiff states an underlying violation of law that states a claim. “To hold a police department liable for the actions of its officers, the [plaintiff] must demonstrate a constitutional deprivation, and show that the deprivation was visited pursuant to a police department custom or policy.” Munger v. City of Glasgow Police Dept., 227 F.3d 1082, 1088 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citation omitted). However, “[t]he inadequacy of police training may serve as the basis for § 1983 liability only where the failure to train in a relevant respect amounts to deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons with whom the police come into contact.” City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 379 (1989).

         Here, Plaintiff alleges LVMPD “failed to instruct Det: [sic] Hawkins on how to conduct an arrest.” ECF No. 5-1 at 5. Plaintiff also ...

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