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Soriano v. Naranjo

February 18, 2010

LEON M. SORIANO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
L. NARANJO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS (Doc. 1)

Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

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 has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant o 28 U.S. S. § 636(c)(1).

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. Plaintiff's Claims

The events at issue in this action occurred at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF") in Corcoran, where Plaintiff is currently housed. Plaintiff names the following individual defendants: Correctional Officer (C/O) L. Naranjo; Sergeant K.A. Dicks; Correctional Counselor (CCI) Jones; CCI Cano; CCI Hicinbotham; Librarian Neri; S. Wortman, Vice Principal of Education. Plaintiff sets forth claims of retaliation, interference with the appeals process and access to the courts.

A. Retaliation

Plaintiff alleges that on July 18, 2008, Defendant Naranjo deprived Plaintiff of his evening meal in retaliation for Plaintiff's filing of an inmate grievance, "concerning staff practices in 4B3R building." Naranjo also referred to Plaintiff using an ethnic slur. Defendant Dicks was aware of Naranjo's conduct, and "has supported it." Defendants Dick and Naranjo allegedly provided Plaintiff with a meal that violated his Rastafarian religious beliefs.

In the prison context, allegations of retaliation against a prisoner's First Amendment rights to speech or to petition the government may support a section 1983 claim. Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527, 532 (9th Cir. 1985); see also Valandingham v. Bojorquez, 866 F.2d 1135 (9th Cir. 1989); Pratt v. Rowland, 65 F.3d 802, 807 (9th Cir. 1995). "[A] viable claim of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements: (1) An assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal." Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005). An allegation of retaliation against a prisoner's First Amendment right to file a prison grievance is sufficient to support a claim under section 1983. Bruce v. Ylst, 351 F.3d 1283, 1288 (9th Cir. 2003).

Although Plaintiff does not specifically allege a chilling effect, the Ninth Circuit has suggested that alleging harm is sufficient "since harm that is more than minimal will almost always have a chilling effect." Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 568 n.11 (9th Cir. 2005). Here, however, Plaintiff alleges, at most, minimal harm. Plaintiff was deprived of a single evening meal, and deprived of a meal that comported with his religious beliefs. Plaintiff has not alleged facts indicating that he was authorized to receive a particular religious diet, nor has he alleged facts indicating that he was deprived of such a diet to the extent that he suffered more than minimal harm.

B. Inmate Grievance

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Jones and Hicinbotom have "abridge as obstructed petitioners right to seek redress as exhaustion administrative ...


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