United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
W. CHRISTEL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Fraser Rotchford, proceeding pro se, filed this
civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Having reviewed and screened Plaintiff's Complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court declines to serve
Plaintiff's Complaint but provides Plaintiff leave to
file an amended pleading by September 3, 2019, to cure the
deficiencies identified herein.
who is currently housed at Clallam County Jail, alleges
Defendants Swanson Service Corporation and Clallam County
Correctional Facility are involved in anti-trust, piracy,
price-fixing, and a violation of “public trust”
related to the sale of postage stamps. Dkt. 11 at 3.
Plaintiff alleges these actions are criminal. Id.
Plaintiff seeks monetary relief. Dkt. 11 at 4.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Court is
required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking
relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee
of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The
Court must “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of
the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted;
or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief.” Id. at (b); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2); see Barren v. Harrington, 152
F.3d 1193 (9th Cir. 1998).
order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §
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 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).
person acts under color of state law when he or she
“exercises power possessed by virtue of state law and
made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the
authority of state law.” Id. at 49. “The
purpose of § 1983 is to deter state actors from using
the badge of their authority depriving individuals of their
federally guaranteed rights.” McDade v. West,
223 F.3d 1135, 1139 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Wyatt v.
Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 161 (1992)).
Complaint suffers from deficiencies requiring dismissal if
not corrected in an amended complaint. First, he fails to
name a proper defendant in this cause of action. Plaintiff
has named Swanson Service Corporation and Clallam County
Correctional Facility as defendants. Dkt. 11.
respect to Plaintiff's allegations against Swanson
Service Corporation, generally, private parties do not act
under color of state law. Price v. Hawaii, 939 F.2d
702, 707-08 (9th Cir. 1991). A private individual's
action may be “under color of state law” where
there is “significant” state involvement in the
action. Franklin v. Fox, 312 F.3d 423, 444 (9th Cir.
2002) (citation omitted). The Supreme Court has articulated
four tests for determining whether a private individual's
actions amount to state action: (1) the public function test;
(2) the joint action test; (3) the state compulsion test; and
(4) the governmental nexus test. Id. at 445.
Satisfaction of any one test is sufficient to find state
action, so long as no countervailing factor exists. Lee
v. Katz, 276 F.3d 550, 554 (9th Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff's allegations do not satisfy any of these four
tests. Plaintiff generally alleges a private actor may be
considered a state actor if the private actor conspires with
or is jointly engaged with a state actor. Dkt. 11 at 3.
However, Plaintiff does not set forth any factual allegations
to support these claims, and Plaintiff has not alleged any
state involvement in Swanson Service Corporation's
actions. Because Plaintiff may not pursue actions against a
private party absent facts showing how the private
individual's actions amount to state action, Plaintiff
fails to state a claim against Defendant Swanson Service
has named the Clallam County Correctional Facility as a
defendant. See Dkt. 11. The Clallam County
Correctional Facility is not a legal entity capable of being
sued under § 1983. Rather, Clallam County, a
municipality, would be the proper defendant. See Monell
v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
690 (1978); Wright v. Clark County Sheriff's
Office, 2016 WL 1643988, *2 (W.D. Wash. April 26, 2016).
To set forth a claim against a municipality, a plaintiff must
show the defendant's employees or agents acted through an
official custom, pattern, or policy permitting deliberate
indifference to, or violating, the plaintiff's civil
rights, or that the entity ratified the unlawful conduct.
Id. at 690-91. A plaintiff must show (1) deprivation
of a constitutional right; (2) the municipality has a policy;
(3) the policy amounts to deliberate indifference to a
plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (4) the policy is
the moving force behind the constitutional violation. See
Oviatt v. Pearce, 954 F.3d 1470, 1474 (9th Cir. 1992).
has not named Clallam County as a defendant or alleged facts
to show Clallam County is liable. See Dkt. 11. If
Plaintiff seeks to sue Clallam County, he must name Clallam
County as a defendant and allege facts sufficient to meet the
required elements of a claim against a municipality and show
Clallam County violated his constitutional rights.
even if Plaintiff had named a proper defendant, he fails to
adequately plead a violation of his constitutional rights
over which this Court has jurisdiction. Dkt. 11. Rule 8(a) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that in order
for a pleading to state a claim for relief it must contain a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction, a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and a demand
for the relief sought. The statement of the claim must be
sufficient to “give the defendant fair notice of what
the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957). The factual allegations of a complaint must be
“enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In addition, a
complaint must allege facts to state a claim for relief that
is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
unclear from Plaintiff's Complaint how Defendants
violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights or damaged him
in some way. Plaintiff alleges Defendants have engaged in
anti-trust, piracy, and price-fixing related to the sale of
postage stamps, but the details of any harm caused to
Plaintiff by Defendants are not clear. Dkt. 11. The Court
cannot discern any actionable claim against Defendants over
which it has jurisdiction. Even construing Plaintiff's
Complaint liberally, Plaintiff's Complaint does not