United States District Court, D. Colorado
November 11, 2014
ARTHUR SANCHEZ, Plaintiff,
CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, DETECTIVE JOHN H. BAUER 97032, DETECTIVE JOHN G. ROBLEDO 05122, and DETECTIVE NICHOLAS E. ROGERS 86037, Defendants.
ORDER TO AMEND
GORDON P. GALLAGHER, Magistarte Judge.
Plaintiff Arthur Sanchez, a pro se prisoner litigant, has filed a Prisoner Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343 and a Prisoner's Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Court must construe Plaintiff's Complaint liberally because he is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not act as an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. Plaintiff will be directed to file an Amended Complaint for the reasons stated below.
The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the Court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). The requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff'd, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992). Rule 8(a) provides that 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 philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that "[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct." Taken together, Rules 8(a) and (d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate Rule 8.
Claims must be presented clearly and concisely in a manageable format that allows a court and a defendant to know what claims are being asserted and to be able to respond to those claims. New Home Appliance Ctr., Inc., v. Thompson, 250 F.2d 881, 883 (10th Cir. 1957). For the purposes of Rule 8(a), "[i]t is sufficient, and indeed all that is permissible, if the complaint concisely states facts upon which relief can be granted upon any legally sustainable basis." Id.
The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint and finds that he fails to provide a short and plain statement of his claims in compliance with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rather than provide a short and concise statement under the Cause of Action section of the Complaint form that identifies a specific constitutional violation, the nature of the violation, and how each responsible defendant participated in the violation, Plaintiff has listed a seven-page chronological narrative of events in the Nature of the Case section of the Complaint form that he refers to under Claims One and Two of the Cause of Action section. The statement of events is repetitive and includes information that is unrelated to Plaintiff's alleged constitutional violations.
A decision to dismiss a complaint pursuant to Rule 8 is within the trial court's sound discretion. See Atkins v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 967 F.2d 1197, 1203 (8th Cir. 1992); Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969). The Court, however, will give Plaintiff an opportunity to cure the deficiencies in the Complaint by submitting an Amended Complaint that meets the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8.
To state a claim in federal court Plaintiff must explain (1) what a defendant did to him; (2) when the defendant did it; (3) how the defendant's action harmed him; and (4) what specific legal right the defendant violated. Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff also must assert personal participation by each named defendant in the alleged constitutional violation. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976). To establish personal participation, Plaintiff must show how each named individual caused the deprivation of a federal right. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). There must be an affirmative link between the alleged constitutional violation and each defendant's participation, control or direction, or failure to supervise. See Butler v. City of Norman, 992 F.2d 1053, 1055 (10th Cir. 1993).
Furthermore, municipalities and municipal entities, such as the City and County of Denver, are not liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 solely because their employees inflict injury on a plaintiff. Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Hinton v. City of Elwood, Kan., 997 F.2d 774, 782 (10th Cir. 1993). To establish liability, a plaintiff must show that a policy or custom exists and that there is a direct causal link between the policy or custom and the injury alleged. City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989). Plaintiff cannot state a claim for relief against the City and County of Denver under § 1983 merely by pointing to isolated incidents. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Plaintiff shall have thirty days from the date of this Order to file an Amended Complaint as directed above. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall obtain the Court-approved Prisoner Complaint form (with the assistance of his case manager or the facility's legal assistant) along with the applicable instructions at www.cod.uscourts.gov, to be used in filing the Amended Complaint. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that if Plaintiff fails to comply within the time allowed the Court will address the claims as stated in the November 6, 2014 Complaint and dismiss improper and insufficient claims accordingly.