United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND THE COMPLAINT
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge.
Willie Nathaniel Brown has filed a civil rights complaint
against Pierce County Jail. Dkt. 4. The Court has granted his
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP).
discussed below, however, the complaint has deficiencies that
prevent the Court from directing service at this time.
Plaintiff will be provided the opportunity by May 3,
2019, to show cause why the complaint should not be
dismissed or to file an amended complaint.
Court will dismiss a complaint at any time if the action
fails to state a claim, raises frivolous or malicious claims,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must show that: (1) the plaintiff 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 law. See
Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991).
The first step in a § 1983 claim is therefore to
identify the specific constitutional right allegedly
infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271
(1994). To satisfy the second prong, a plaintiff must allege
facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or
personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the
complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355
(9th Cir. 1981).
plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that he has been
placed on phone, mail, and visit restriction since February
23, 2018, when he was first detained at Pierce County Jail.
Dkt. 4, p. 3. He alleges that these restrictions have
prevented him from speaking with his family members or
members of his community. Id. He alleges that his
only means of communication is through his lawyer, “who
doesn't alway[s] answer.” Id. Plaintiff
names only Pierce County Jail as a defendant.
complaint suffers from deficiencies that, if not corrected in
an amended complaint, require dismissal of the entire action.
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii), 1915A(b)(1).
County Jail is not a legal entity capable of being sued in a
42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Section 1983 applies to the
actions of “persons” acting under color of state
law. Municipalities are subject to suit under § 1983.
Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978); Owen v. City of Independence,
Mo., 445 U.S. 622, 637 (1980) (holding § 1983 is
expansive and does not expressly incorporate common law
immunities). But “to bring an appropriate action
challenging the actions, policies or customs of a local
governmental unit, a plaintiff must name the county or city
itself as a party to the action, and not the particular
municipal department or facility where the alleged violation
occurred.” Bradford v. City of Seattle, 557
F.Supp.2d 1189, 1207 (W.D. Wash. 2008) (holding Seattle
Police Department is not a legal entity capable of being sued
under § 1983) (citing Nolan v. Snohomish
County, 59 Wn.App. 876, 883 (1990)).
plaintiff seeks to hold a local governmental unit like Pierce
County liable under section 1983, he must show that the
entity itself violated his rights or that it directed its
employee to do so. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Bryan
County v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1994). Under this
theory of liability, the focus is on the entity's
“policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision
officially adopted and promulgated by that body's
Officers.” City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik,
485 U.S. 112, 121 (1988) (quoting Monell v. Dept. of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978)). A local governmental
unit may not be held responsible for the acts of its
employees under a respondeat superior theory of
liability. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. To sue
Pierce County, Mr. Brown must allege facts showing that any
constitutional deprivation he suffered was the result of a
custom or policy of the County. See Id. Plaintiff
has not done so.
plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, he must write a
short, plain statement telling the Court: (1) each of the
names of the individual person(s) and/or entities who
allegedly violated the right (the defendant or defendants);
(2) factual allegations stating exactly what that individual
person or entity did or failed to do under color of state
law; (4) how the action or inaction of that individual person
or entity is connected to a violation of plaintiff's
federal constitutional or federal statutory rights; and (5)
what specific injury plaintiff suffered because of each
defendant's conduct or lack of action.
plaintiff alleges that certain individuals violated his
constitutional rights, he must name those individuals as
defendants and must allege in more specific terms how their
action or inaction violated a specific constitutional right.
And if plaintiff alleges that a local governmental unit
violated his constitutional rights, he must allege facts
showing that any constitutional deprivation he suffered was
the result of a custom or policy of that entity.
may show cause why his complaint should not be dismissed or
may file an amended complaint to cure, if possible, the
deficiencies noted herein, on or before May 3,
2019. The amended complaint must be legibly
rewritten or retyped in its entirety and contain the same
case number. Any cause of action alleged in the original
complaint that is not alleged in the amended complaint is
waived. Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474
(9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part on other grounds,
Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir.
Court will screen the amended complaint to determine whether
it states a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. If
the amended complaint is not timely filed or fails to
adequately address the issues in this order, the undersigned
will recommend dismissal of this action under 28 U.S.C.
Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff the appropriate forms for
filing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint and for
service, a copy of ...