Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. Hernandez

September 12, 2008

DANIEL LAWRENCE SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HERNANDEZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss the first amended complaint (Doc. 30). Defendants have also filed requests for judicial notice (Docs. 32 and 35).

I. BACKGROUND

Pursuant to the court's May 5, 2008, order, this action proceeds against defendants Figeroe and Gordon only on plaintiff's First Amendment claim based on denial of access to the courts. Both defendants have appeared by way of their motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff claims that, in January 2006, correctional officer Figeroe packed all of his legal documents and personal property into a large box to be transferred with plaintiff to another prison. He states that correctional officers Figeroe and Gordon "took full control and possession of all plaintiff's legal materials. . . ." According to plaintiff, when he arrived at the new prison, his property box was missing. Plaintiff claims that, without his legal documents, he is unable to meet court filing deadlines in a number of pending cases. He states that he cannot "file all appeal document(s) relevant to challenging the unjust conviction and unfair sentence in my criminal case on time." The court notes that, other than the current action, plaintiff states that he does not have any other lawsuits pending.

II. STANDARDS FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all allegations of material fact in the complaint as true. See Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007). The court must also construe the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816 (9th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). All ambiguities or doubts must also be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct.1955, 1964-65 (2007). Allegations of specific facts are not necessary so long as the statement of facts gives the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. See Erickson, 127 S.Ct. at 2197.

To determine whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court generally may not consider materials outside the complaint and pleadings. See Cooper v. Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 622 (9th Cir. 1998); Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 453 (9th Cir. 1994). The court may, however, consider: (1) documents whose contents are alleged in or attached to the complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, see Branch, 14 F.3d at 454; (2) documents whose authenticity is not in question, and upon which the complaint necessarily relies, but which are not attached to the complaint, see Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001); and (3) documents and materials of which the court may take judicial notice, see Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. 1994), except prison regulations, see Anderson v. Angelone, 86 F.3d 932, 934 (9th Cir. 1996).

Under these standards, a statute of limitations defense may be raised in a motion to dismiss. Finally, leave to amend must be granted ". . . [u]nless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defects." Lucas v. Dep't of Corrections, 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendants Figeroe and Gordon argue that plaintiff cannot state a First Amendment claim based on denial of access to the courts because he cannot show an actual injury. They also argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity.

A. Failure to State a Claim

Prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977); Bradley v. Hall, 64 F.3d 1276, 1279 (9th Cir. 1995) (discussing the right in the context of prison grievance procedures). This right requires prison officials to "assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828. The right, however, only requires that prisoners have the capability of bringing challenges to sentences or conditions of confinement. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 356-57. Moreover, the right is limited to non-frivolous criminal appeals, habeas corpus actions, and ยง 1983 suits. See id. at 353 n.3 & ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.