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Aaron v. Cano

May 7, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff George Aaron, Jr. ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and was incarcerated at California State Prison in Corcoran, California ("CSP-Corcoran") and Avenal State Prison in Avenal, California ("ASP") when the events in his complaint took place. Plaintiff is suing under section 1983 for the violation of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff names S. Cano, L. Cano, and Bueno as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff will be given the opportunity to amend his complaint, or proceed only on the claims found cognizable by this order.

I. Screening Requirement

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Background

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this action on May 5, 2008. (Doc. #1.) Plaintiff requested leave to file his First Amended Complaint on February 3, 2009. (Doc. #10.) Plaintiff requested leave to amend his complaint on his own initiative before the court had screened his original complaint. Plaintiff's motion was granted on February 10, 2009. (Doc. #11.) Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on March 13, 2009. (Doc. #12.) This action proceeds on Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to allow Plaintiff to interview fellow inmates who were potential witnesses in Plaintiff's civil lawsuit. These inmates apparently resided in a different penal institution. On January 25, 2005, Plaintiff filed a civil rights action in federal court. Plaintiff was aware of two inmates who were willing to testify on his behalf to support his claims. Plaintiff sought approval from Defendant S. Cano to correspond with his potential witnesses. Defendant S. Cano told Plaintiff that CSP-Corcoran had a strict policy that prohibited inmate-to-inmate correspondence except for inmates who were immediate family members. Plaintiff's request to correspond with his potential witnesses was denied. Plaintiff's administrative appeals regarding the matter were either returned back to him or screened out. Plaintiff also submitted staff complaints regarding the incident. Plaintiff alleges that the staff complaints were improperly processed by Defendant L. Cano because Defendants L. Cano and S. Cano were somehow related to one another.

Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to Avenal State Prison in retaliation for filing grievances. Plaintiff's request to correspond with his inmate witnesses was then reviewed by prison officials at Avenal State Prison. It is not clear whether Plaintiff's request was ultimately approved or denied.

Plaintiff alleges that he suffered injury from Defendants' actions because it "caused unreasonable delay in litigation, altering [the] course of the case which changed the final outcome." (Compl. 15.)

III. Discussion

A. First Amendment ...

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