United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
JAMES E. CURTIS, Plaintiff,
LEATHERS (FNU), WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.
ORDER DECLINING SERVICE AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge
E. Curtis, who is currently confined at the Washington State
Penitentiary (WSP), files this 28 U.S.C. § 1983 prisoner
civil rights complaint against Leathers, an employee at the
Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC), and the Washington State
Department of Corrections (DOC). The Court declines to serve
the complaint because it contains fatal deficiencies that, if
not addressed, might lead to a recommendation of dismissal of
the entire action for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(b)(ii), 1915A(b)(1). However, because plaintiff is
proceeding pro se, he is granted leave to file an
amended complaint or to show cause why his claim should not
be dismissed by April 28, 2017.
sustain a civil rights action under § 1983, a plaintiff
must show (1) he suffered a violation of rights protected by
the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (2) the
violation was proximately caused by a person acting under
color of state or federal law. See Crumpton v.
Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Rule 8(a)(2)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires a
complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to
give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554 (2007) (citing Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). In addition, the complaint
must include more than “naked assertions, ”
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557.
has not provided a short and plain statement of his claims.
Instead, plaintiff has provided a 35 page complaint
complaining of conduct that occurred over several years and
involved numerous DOC employees who have not been named as
defendants in this lawsuit. In addition, much of the conduct
appears to have occurred well before the three year statute
of limitations for bringing a Section 1983
main issue of plaintiff's complaint appears to be that on
December 9, 2015, Defendant Leathers, who works in the
mailroom at the MCC, issued a rejection notice for a mailing
sent from DOC's Public Disclosure Unit to plaintiff. The
mailing contained 360 pages of records requested by plaintiff
and which plaintiff maintains support his claim against
various DOC employees for an ongoing “campaign of
harassment” resulting in placement of feces and other
substances in plaintiff's bedding and cell - apparently,
a claim that plaintiff is not asserting against the named
defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Leathers
unconstitutionally rejected his mail because it contained
“victim information” but that this rejection was
not based on any legitimate penological reason because the
victim information had already been redacted by the DOC
Public Disclosure Unit.
also purports to sue the DOC as an agency subject to
Washington's State Public Records Act for its bad faith
refusal to produce all of the requested records and for
conspiring with Defendant Leathers and other unnamed
individuals at MCC to suppress the requested information.
However, he alleges elsewhere that the DOC did in fact
respond by sending him the 360 pages of records and that the
record had already been redacted.
extent plaintiff seeks to sue the DOC for conspiracy or any
other constitutional claim, the DOC is not a proper party to
this case. Under the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States, neither a state nor a state agency may
be sued in federal court without its consent. Pennhurst
St. Sch. & Hosp. 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984); Taylor
v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). While a
state may waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity by removing
an action to federal court, see e.g. Pittman v. Oregon,
Employment Dep't, 509 F.3d 1065, 1071 (9th Cir.
2007), this is not a removal action.
plaintiff's § 1983 claims against the State are
improper because the State of Washington is not a
“person” within the meaning of § 1983,
Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 64 (1989) (holding that the term “person” as
used in § 1983 did not include a State or State agency).
Neither is the Washington Department of Corrections a person
within the meaning of § 1983. Id. In addition,
there is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983.
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436
U.S. 658 (1978).
extent plaintiff seeks to hold the DOC liable under state law
for violation of Washington's Public Records Act, he is
directed to set forth a short, plain statement of his
allegations to support such a claim. As previously noted,
plaintiff alleges that the DOC's Public Disclosure Unit
did provide him with the records requested and that it was
Ms. Leathers who wrongfully issued the mail rejection.
extent plaintiff intends to pursue this lawsuit against any
individual, he must submit an amended complaint with short,
plain statements telling the Court: (1) the constitutional
right he believes was violated; (2) name of the person who
violated the right; (3) exactly what that individual did or
failed to do; (4) how the action or inaction of that person
is connected to the violation of his constitutional rights;
and (5) what specific injury he suffered because of that
person's conduct. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S.
362, 371-72 (1976). Plaintiff must repeat the process
described above for each person he names as a defendant. If
he fails to affirmatively link the conduct of each named
defendant with the specific injury suffered by him, the claim
against that defendant will be dismissed for failure to state
a claim. Plaintiff shall limit his amended complaint to
fifteen (15) pages.
if plaintiff names a supervisory official, he must allege
facts describing how that official personally participated in
the constitutional deprivation (and tell the Court the five
things listed above), or allege facts describing how that
official was aware of the similar widespread abuses, but with
deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights, failed
to take action to prevent further harm to him. See Monell
v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658, 691 (1978).
Court DECLINES to serve the complaint which as discussed
above is deficient. However, the Court again grants plaintiff
permission to submit an amended complaint to attempt to cure
the above-mentioned deficiencies by April 28, 2017. ...