839 F.2d 621 (9th Cir. 1988), 86-6198, Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept.

Docket Nº:86-6198.
Citation:839 F.2d 621
Party Name:Parviz KARIM-PANAHI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT; Daryl E. Gates; City of Los Angeles; Tom Bradley; Sid Mills; Byron E. Young; Henry T. Knopp; Robert Robles; Dean Blidterfeldt; M.F. Lords; Tester Obrymski; Agapito Ramirez; Robert G. Gandy; Tom Knoff, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:February 16, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 621

839 F.2d 621 (9th Cir. 1988)

Parviz KARIM-PANAHI, Plaintiff-Appellant,



Angeles; Tom Bradley; Sid Mills; Byron E. Young; Henry

T. Knopp; Robert Robles; Dean Blidterfeldt; M.F. Lords;

Tester Obrymski; Agapito Ramirez; Robert G. Gandy; Tom

Knoff, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 86-6198.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 16, 1988

Argued and Submitted Nov. 3, 1987.

Page 622

Parviz Karim-Panahi, pro per.

Richard Helgeson, City Atty., Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before ALARCON and NELSON, Circuit Judges, and AGUILAR, [*] District Judge.

ALARCON, Circuit Judge:


Parviz Karim-Panahi (Karim-Panahi) appeals from the judgment of dismissal of his

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amended complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim.

On May 16, 1983, Karim-Panahi was arrested on misdemeanor charges of trespassing, Cal.Penal Code Sec. 602(l), and resisting or obstructing a police officer in the performance of his or her duties, Cal. Penal Code Sec. 148. The arresting officers transported Karim-Panahi to a jail facility, where he was booked and subjected to a strip search and a body cavity search.

Based on his conduct during the booking process, Karim-Panahi was prosecuted and convicted under section 148. On appeal, the conviction was overturned on the ground that the prosecution had failed to present sufficient evidence to show that the officers were lawfully discharging their duties when they searched Karim-Panahi.

On February 14, 1986, Karim-Panahi filed a complaint pro se in the present matter. He purported to allege claims under 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1983, 1985 and 1986 against the City of Los Angeles (City), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and various of their agents and employees arising out of the earlier arrest, strip search and prosecution. He also purported to allege employment discrimination and state law tort claims.

On defendants' motion, the district court dismissed Karim-Panahi's complaint with leave to amend, ruling that the complaint was vague, ambiguous, and unintelligible. The court explained to Karim-Panahi that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require a short concise, brief statement of your case," but the court did not identify any particular deficiencies in the complaint.

Karim-Panahi then filed an amended complaint pro se, asserting essentially the same claims. Again, the defendants moved for dismissal. On May 29, 1986, Karim-Panahi filed a "Notice of Forceful Move and Change of Address," in which he alerted the court to the possibility that economic exigencies might prevent him from attending the upcoming hearing on defendants' motion.

On June 9, 1986, the court held a hearing on the motion. Neither Karim-Panahi nor any attorney acting on his behalf appeared at the hearing. The court dismissed the amended complaint with prejudice, on the ground that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The district court did not advise Karim-Panahi of the deficiencies in the amended complaint.

Karim-Panahi now appeals from the dismissal of his amended complaint.


An order dismissing a complaint with prejudice is final and appealable. Conerly v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 623 F.2d 117, 119 (9th Cir.1980). We have jurisdiction over Karim-Panahi's timely appeal under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291 (1982).


We review de novo the dismissal of a complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 1 Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1447 (9th Cir.1987).

In civil rights cases where the plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n. 1 (9th Cir.1985) (en banc). "A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is 'absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.' " Noll, 809 F.2d at 1448 (quoting Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir.1980) (per curiam)); accord Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135-36 (9th Cir.1987). Moreover, before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the district court must give the plaintiff a statement of the complaint's deficiencies.

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Eldridge, 832 F.2d at 1136; Noll, 809 F.2d at 1448-49. "Without the benefit of a statement of deficiencies, the pro se litigant will likely repeat previous errors." Noll, 809 F.2d at 1448.


A. Claims under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983

1. Defendants City, LAPD, Knopp, Young, Robles, and Blisterfeldt

Section 1983 imposes liability upon any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another of a federally protected right. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982). "To make out a cause of action under section 1983, plaintiffs must plead that (1) the defendants acting under color of state law (2) deprived plaintiffs of rights secured by the Constitution or federal statutes." Gibson v. United States, 781 F.2d 1334, 1338 (9th Cir.1986), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 928, 93 L.Ed.2d 979 (1987).

Section 1983 also imposes liability upon municipalities for constitutional deprivations resulting from actions taken pursuant to government policy or custom. Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2037, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). In this circuit, a claim of municipal liability under section 1983 is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss "even if the claim is based on nothing more than a...

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