United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT
GORDON P. GALLAGHER, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, Jimmy Santiago, is a prisoner in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City, Colorado. Mr. Santiago has filed pro se a Prisoner Complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming his rights under the United States Constitution have been violated. He seeks damages and declaratory relief.
The court must construe the Prisoner Complaint liberally because Mr. Santiago 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 be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons stated below, Mr. Santiago will be ordered to file an amended complaint if he wishes to pursue his claims in this action.
The Prisoner Complaint is deficient. First, Mr. Santiago fails to provide an address for any of the Defendants. Mr. Santiago must provide a complete address for each Defendant so that they may be served properly.
The Prisoner Complaint also is deficient because it does not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 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). Specifically, 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.
Mr. Santiago fails to provide a short and plain statement of his claims showing he is entitled to relief because he fails to allege clearly and concisely how each Defendant personally participated in the asserted constitutional violations. Allegations of "personal participation in the specific constitutional violation complained of [are] essential." Henry v. Storey, 658 F.3d 1235, 1241 (10th Cir. 2011). Mr. Santiago's vague assertions that "Defendants" have denied him proper medical treatment are not sufficient because he fails to specify what each Defendant did that allegedly violated his constitutional rights.
For these reasons, Mr. Santiago will be ordered to file an amended complaint. For each claim he asserts in the amended complaint, Mr. Santiago "must explain what each defendant did to him or her; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed him or her; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated." Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The general rule that pro se pleadings must be construed liberally has limits and "the court cannot take on the responsibility of serving as the litigant's attorney in constructing arguments and searching the record." Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005). Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Mr. Santiago file, within thirty (30) days from the date of this order, an amended complaint as directed in this order. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Mr. Santiago 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. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that, if Mr. Santiago fails to file an amended complaint that complies with this order within the time allowed, the action ...