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Stevens v. Weber County

United States District Court, D. Utah

May 24, 2019

TIMOTHY SHAWN STEVENS, Plaintiff,
v.
WEBER COUNTY et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER TO CURE DEFICIENT COMPLAINT

          DALE A. KIMBALL DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, inmate Timothy Shawn Stevens, brings this pro se civil-rights action, see 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (2019), [1] in forma pauperis, see 28 Id. § 1915. Having now screened the Complaint, (Doc. No. 4), under its statutory review function, [2] the Court orders Plaintiff to file an amended complaint to cure deficiencies before further pursuing claims.

         COMPLAINT'S DEFICIENCIES

         Complaint:

         (a) does not properly affirmatively link defendants to civil-rights violations.

         (b) does not adequately state a conditions-confinement claim by a pretrial detainee (see below).

         (c) does not appear to state a proper legal-access claim by a pretrial detainee (see below).

         (d) states § 1983 claims in violation of municipal-liability doctrine (see below).

         (e) improperly names Weber County Sheriff's Department as § 1983 defendant, though it is not an independent legal entity that can sue or be sued.

         (f) appears to inappropriately allege civil-rights violations on respondeat-superior theory.

         (g) alleges possible constitutional violations resulting in injuries that appear to be prohibited by 42 U.S.C.S. § 1997e(e) (2019), which reads, "No Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner . . . for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of a physical injury or the commission of a sexual act.”

         (h) evinces confusion about what constitutes a cause of action under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) (see below).

         GUIDANCE FOR PLAINTIFF

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to 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." Rule 8's requirements mean to guarantee "that defendants enjoy fair notice of what the claims against them are and the grounds upon which they rest." TV Commc'ns Network, Inc. v ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991).

         Pro se litigants are not excused from complying with these minimal pleading demands. "This is so because a pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Moreover, it is improper for the Court "to assume the role of advocate for a pro se litigant." Id. Thus, the Court cannot "supply additional facts, [or] construct a legal theory for plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989).

         Plaintiff should consider these general points before filing an amended complaint:

         (1) The revised complaint must stand entirely on its own and shall not refer to, or incorporate by reference, any portion of the original complaint. See Murray v. Archambo, 132 F.3d 609, 612 (10th Cir. 1998) (stating amended complaint supersedes original). The amended complaint may also not be added to after it is filed without moving for amendment.[3]

         (2) The complaint must clearly state what each defendant--typically, a named government employee--did to violate Plaintiff's civil rights. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976) (stating personal participation of each named defendant is essential allegation in civil-rights action). "To state a claim, a complaint must 'make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom.'" Stone v. Albert, 338 Fed.Appx. 757, (10th ...


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