Knapp v. Hogan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 12-26-2013
  • Case #: 11-17512
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Court Judge Farris for the Court; Circuit Court Judges Fernandez and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

A dismissal after repeated violation of Rule 8(a)’s requirement, followed by leave to amend to meet the “short and plain statement” requirement, under §1915(g) constitutes a dismissal “for failure to state a claim.”

Eric Charles Rodney Knapp, a California state prisoner, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison and other state officials. Knapp’s mother hosted a website that was dedicated to fighting for inmates’ rights and showing the corruption of the police. Knapp alleged that government officials were aware that prison officers retaliated against him because of this website. Defendants argued that in forma pauperis Knapp is disqualified from the proceeding. The issue on appeal is whether Rule 8(a) dismissals qualify as a strike under the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Under the Act, if a prisoner for certain enumerated reasons had three prior actions dismissed then he or she may not proceed in forma pauperis. There is more than one way to violate Rule 8(a)’s requirement of a “short and plain statement” that must be contained in a pleading. Violations can happen if the pleading says too much or too little. Knapp has accumulated three prior dismissals from the district court and two dismissed appeals. These dismissed appeals were counted as strikes because the district court determined that the appeal “was not taken in good faith.” Each of the three dismissals with the district court were also strikes. Knapp’s complaints, in each case, violated Rule 8(a) and the court gave an opportunity to amend but the complaints were never corrected the violation even with the district court’s repeated warnings. The Ninth Circuit held that the repeated violation of Rule 8(a), following leave to amend to meet the “short and plain statement” requirement, under § 1915(g) constitute dismissals for “failure to state a claim.” Therefore, the Ninth Circuit concluded that all of Knapp’s five prior dismissals and appeals were strikes and he met the requirement of proceeding in forma pauperis and is disqualified from the proceeding. DISMISSED.

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