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Arias-Maldonado v. Sisto

November 2, 2009

JAMIE ARIAS-MALDONADO, #T-12528, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D.K. SISTO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge

ORDER (1) ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART MAGISTRATE JUDGE 'S SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION THAT PLAINTIFF'S SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED; AND (2) DIRECTING SERVICE OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

On August 4, 2008, Plaintiff Jamie Arias-Maldonado ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging claims against the California Department of Corrections ("CDCR"), D.K. Sisto, N. Grannis, V.D. Brumsfield, Cpt. Arthur, K. Kesterson, M.D. Corioso, S. Cervantes, and J. Boyden. Doc. No. 17. On September 23, 2009, Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren filed his Finding and Recommendation that the SAC be dismissed ("September 23 F&R"). On October 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed Objections. Based on the following, the court ADOPTS in part and REJECTS in part the September 23 F&R and DIRECTS SERVICE.

I. BACKGROUND

The SAC alleges claims based on the following allegations.

First, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Brunsfield, Arthur, and Kesterson were part of a "Classification Committee" that decided to transfer Plaintiff from California State Prison ("CSP") in Solano to Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility ("TCCF") in South Tutwiler, Mississippi. SAC at 2-6. The SAC appears to allege that said transfer was made on the basis of his race. Id. at 5-6.

Second, Plaintiff alleges claims based on lack of access to the courts. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that on August 22, 2007, a law library staff member, Officer Boyden, stopped Plaintiff as he was entering the law library to verify why he was not at his assigned job. Id. Ex. A at 1. Plaintiff showed Boyden a written pass he had received from the building officer to go to the law library and Boyden permitted Plaintiff to enter. Id. Plaintiff claims that this incident is "direct evidence" of CSP's and Boyden's efforts to deny Plaintiff a right of access to the courts. Id. at 3. Plaintiff further asserts that prison officials repeatedly do not timely open the law library. Id. at 3-4. According to the SAC, these denials impeded his ability to litigate his civil actions, resulting in their dismissal. Id.

Third, the SAC asserts that Defendants did not properly process his grievances concerning his transfer out of California and the incident with Boyden. Id. at 3-5. The SAC claims that various named prison officials failed to adequately address his emergency appeals relating to his transfer, and the warden failed to investigate the law library staff regarding the incident with Officer Boyden. Id. at 3-5.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a party objects to a magistrate judge's findings or recommendations, the district court must review de novo those portions to which the objections are made and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) ("[T]he district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.").

Under a de novo standard, this court reviews "the matter anew, the same as if it had not been heard before, and as if no decision previously had been rendered." Freeman v. DirecTV, Inc., 457 F.3d 1001, 1004 (9th Cir. 2006); United States v. Silverman, 861 F.2d 571, 576 (9th Cir. 1988). The district court need not hold a de novo hearing; however, it is the court's obligation to arrive at its own independent conclusion about those portions of the magistrate judge's findings or recommendation to which a party objects. United States v. Remsing, 874 F.2d 614, 616 (9th Cir. 1989).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's Objection outlines his allegations in the SAC, asserts additional allegations, and then summarily asserts that Defendants "are answerable for all the aforesaid injuries Plaintiff suffered." Pl.'s Obj. 6. Given that Plaintiff objects to the September 23 F&R in its entirety, the court reviews and addresses each of Plaintiff's claims in turn.

Regarding the SAC's claim that Defendants Brunsfield, Arthur, and Kesterson transferred Plaintiff to TCCF due to his race, the September 23 F&R recommends that the court dismiss this claim on the basis that it is moot because Plaintiff has since been transferred to California Men's Colony ("CMC") in San Luis Obispo, California. The court agrees with the September 23 F&R's recommendation that this claim is moot to the extent the SAC seeks injunctive relief that Plaintiff be placed "at the San Louis Obispo Prison." SAC at Prayer ¶ 1. The SAC also requests, however, that Plaintiff be granted "damages treble pursuant to California existing law." Id. ¶ 2. Because the SAC seeks compensatory damages, the court rejects the September 23 F&R's recommendation to dismiss this claim in its entirety and finds that Plaintiff has stated a claim against Defendants Brunsfield, Arthur, and Kesterson for his alleged involuntary transfer based on race.

As to Plaintiff's remaining claims, the court agrees with the September 23 F&R's recommendation that they should be ...


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