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Fresquez v. Webber

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 30, 2015

LEROY D. FRESQUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JIM WEBBER, PAUL HAULENBECK, DAVID SHUBARTH, JAMES FALK, MICHELLE WINGERT, KENNETH WILDERSTEIN, J. ZWIRN, MR. MISCHINRA, MR. GREENSLADE, RONALD GILES, JESSICA DARCEY, RAYMOND COLE, STEVEN BADE, ROBERT DICK, TOMMY MERTENS, MR. HOLLIS, MR. CUSTER, MR. CURRY, CHRISTOPHER BARBER, and KATHLEEN RHOADES, Defendants.

ORDER TO AMEND

Gordon P. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff Leroy D. Fresquez currently is detained at the Jefferson County Detention Facility in Golden, Colorado. On October 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Prisoner Complaint and a Prisoner's Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed pursuant to ยง 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.

First, the Complaint 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 Rule 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 A[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 pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8. See Schupper v. Edie, 193 F.App'x 744, 745-46 (10th Cir. 2006) (upheld the dismissal of a thirty-eight page complaint, containing 292 paragraphs, plus 120 pages of exhibits as unnecessarily prolix).

Plaintiff fails to provide a short and plain statement of his claims showing that he is entitled to relief. In particular, the Complaint is forty pages long, which does not comply with the Information and Instruction for Filing a Prisoner Complaint that requires the complaint and all additional pages must not exceed thirty pages. See www.cod.uscourts.gov/CourtOperations/RulesPocedures/Forms.aspx. Furthermore, Plaintiff names twenty-one defendants, and refers to other individuals, not named as defendants, as responsible parties in the body of the Complaint. The Complaint is repetitive, prolix, and set forth in a chronological statement of events rather than in a short and concise statement that sets forth the facts in support of the claims against named Defendants.

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 is required to 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).

A defendant may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of his or her subordinates on a theory of respondeat superior. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Furthermore,

when a plaintiff sues an official under Bivens or §' 1983 for conduct ''arising from his or her superintendent responsibilities, '' the plaintiff must plausibly plead and eventually prove not only that the official's subordinates violated the Constitution, but that the official by virtue of his own conduct and state of mind did so as well.

Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1198 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677). Therefore, in order to succeed in a § 1983 suit against a government official for conduct that arises out of his or her supervisory responsibilities, a plaintiff must allege and demonstrate that: A(1) the defendant promulgated, created, implemented or possessed responsibility for the continued operation of a policy that (2) caused the complained of constitutional harm, and (3) acted with the state of mind required to establish the alleged constitutional deprivation.'' Id. at 1199.

Plaintiff also cannot maintain claims against prison officials or administrators on the basis that they denied his grievances. The ''denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of constitutional rights alleged by plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983.'' Gallagher v. Shelton, 587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir. 2009); see also Whitington v. Ortiz, No. 07-1425, 307 F.App'x. 179, 193 (10th Cir. Jan. 13, 2009) (unpublished) (stating that ''the denial of the grievances alone is insufficient to establish personal participation in the alleged constitutional violations.'') (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Davis v. Ark. Valley Corr. Facility, No. 02-1486, 99 F.App'x. 838, 843 (10th Cir. May 20, 2004) (unpublished) (sending ''correspondence [to high-ranking prison official] outlining [a] complaint . . . without more, does not sufficiently implicate the [supervisory official] under § 1983'').

Furthermore, pursuant to Rule 18(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, A[a] party asserting a claim . . . may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.'' However, the issue of whether multiple defendants may be joined in a single action is governed by Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides:

(2) Defendants. Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or ...

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