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Giblin v. Bloomfield

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

October 28, 2019

JEFFREY PAUL GIBLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ZACHARY BLOOMFIELD, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND COMPLAINT

          Theresa L. Fricke, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff's filing of a civil rights complaint. Dkt. 5. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. 4. In light of the deficiencies in the complaint, the undersigned will not direct service of the complaint at this time. Plaintiff will be provided the opportunity by November 15, 2019 to show cause why the complaint should not be dismissed or file an amended complaint.

         The Court must dismiss the complaint of a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis “at any time if the [C]ourt determines” that the action: (a) “is frivolous or malicious”; (b) “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted” or (c) “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b). A complaint is frivolous when it has no arguable basis in law or fact. Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228 (9th Cir. 1984).

         Before the Court may dismiss the complaint as frivolous or for failure to state a claim, it “must provide the [prisoner] with notice of the deficiencies in his or her complaint and an opportunity to amend the complaint prior to dismissal.” McGucken v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1055 (9th Cir. 1992). On the other hand, leave to amend need not be granted “where the amendment would be futile or where the amended complaint would be subject to dismissal.” Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991).

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2016 he was involved in a road rage incident wherein he was assaulted and fled the scene in fear of his own safety and the safety of his son. Dkt. 5 at p. 3. The complaint states that during this incident, as plaintiff was fleeing, one of the alleged assailants was injured resulting in the amputation of the person's lower leg. Id. As a result of this incident plaintiff was convicted “of acting with intent to commit First Degree Assault as a hate crime.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully convicted. Id. Plaintiff contends that the facts and eyewitness testimony do not support the conviction. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that the State attained a false conviction against plaintiff by purposefully altering evidence, fabricating evidence and concealing exculpatory evidence. Id.

         I. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 “affords a ‘civil remedy' for deprivation of federally protected rights caused by person acting under color of state law.” Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981) overruled in part on other grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). To state a claim under Section 1983, a complaint must allege: (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law, and (2) the conduct deprived a person of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Id. Section 1983 is the appropriate avenue to remedy an alleged wrong only if both of these elements are present. Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985).

         To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must set forth the specific factual bases upon which the plaintiff claims each defendant is liable. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1982). Vague and conclusory allegations of officials participating in a civil rights violation are not sufficient to support a claim under Section 1983. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 269 (9th Cir. 1982).

         Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cause of action under Section 1983. Plaintiff's complaint relies on vague and conclusory allegations of wrongdoing without providing factual allegations supporting these claims. Dkt. 5 at p. 3-4. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that the “State” altered evidence, fabricated evidence and concealed evidence. Id. Plaintiff's complaint also identifies evidence that was allegedly altered or fabricated. Id. However, plaintiff does not identify a specific person who purportedly altered the evidence; nor does plaintiff describe any acts or omissions, or causation -- i.e., how any state official's actions (or failure to act) deprived plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Plaintiff also fails to identify any person who acted under color of state law to violate plaintiff's federally protected rights.

         II. Improper Defendant

         For purposes of Section 1983, neither a state nor its officials acting in their official capacities constitute a “person.” Will v. Michigan, 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989). Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits a private citizen from suing a state government in federal court without the state's consent. See, Tenn. Student Assistance Corp. v. Hood, 541 U.S. 440, 446 (2004); Natural Resources Defense Council v. California Dep't of Transportation, 96 F.3d 420, 421 (9th Cir. 1996). Therefore, neither the state nor an official acting in their official capacity can be sued for damages pursuant to Section 1983.

         Plaintiff's complaint vaguely alleges that the “State” violated his federally protected rights. To the extent that plaintiff is naming the state of Washington as a defendant in this Section 1983 action, the state of Washington is both an improper defendant under Section 1983 and immune from plaintiff's claims under the Eleventh Amendment. To state a cause of action under Section 1983 plaintiff must name specific individuals (acting under color of state law) as defendants and must allege specific facts to show which individual acted or failed to act, ...


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