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MOORE v. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

United States District Court, Northern District of California


February 3, 2003

B. T. MOORE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin J. Jenkins, United States District Judge

ORDER OF DISMISSAL

B. T. Moore ("petitioner"), currently incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, california ("CMF"), filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that CMF officials have his watch, a pair of his sneakers, and a pair of his blue jeans. Plaintiff seeks the return of these items to him. In a separate order, plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Id. § 1915A (a)(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Legal Claims

Plaintiffs claim that prison officials have his property does not state a cognizable claim for a constitutional violation. Ordinarily, due process of law requires notice and an opportunity for some kind of hearing prior to the deprivation of a significant property interest. See Memphis Light, Gas & Water Div. v. Craft, 436 U.S. 1, 19 (1978). The relatively small amount of property involved does not rise to the "significant" level needed to implicate due process. Moreover, the allegations in the complaint are that the seizure of his property was not authorized. Neither the negligent nor intentional deprivation of property states a due process claim under § 1983 if the deprivation was random and unauthorized. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535-44 (1981) (state employee negligently lost prisoner's hobby kit), overruled in part on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-31 (1986); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984) (intentional destruction of inmate's property). The availability of an adequate state post-deprivation remedy, e.g., a state tort action, precludes relief because it provides sufficient procedural due process. See Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 128 (1990); King v. Massarweh, 782 F.2d 825, 826 (9th Cir. 1986). California Law provides such an adequate post-deprivation remedy. See Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816-17 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing Cal. Gov't Code §§ 810-895). To whatever extent officials were not authorized to seize his property, petitioner may follow the state law procedures for bringing a tort claim against state officials. However, such a claim does not, even liberally construed, state a constitutional violation.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons expressed, plaintiffs claims are DISMISSED for failure to state a cognizable claim for relief. All other pending motions are terminated and the clerk shall close the file.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20030203

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