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Miller v. State

April 5, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


(Docs. 1 & 15)

Screening Order

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California state law. On December 16, 2008, Defendant State of California removed this action from Kern County Superior Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).*fn1 On January 19, 2010, Plaintiff moved for the Court to complete within 30 days the screening required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d)) (the "PLRA") (Doc. 15).

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).

II. Pleading Standards

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to § 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). 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. Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Plaintiff must set forth sufficient factual matter accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949, quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Although accepted as true, "[f]actual allegations must be [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). A plaintiff must set forth "the grounds of his entitlement to relief," which "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555-56 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To adequately state a claim against a defendant, a plaintiff must set forth the legal and factual basis for his claim.

III. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Factual Background

In his state court complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, upon his arrival at the Reception Center at Wasco State Prison ("WSP"), Defendants Reyes and Fuhlrodt informed Plaintiff that he was not allowed to possess his personal property in prison and that, since he was indigent, the policy of the Defendant California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") permitted him either to donate it or destroy it. As a result, Plaintiff was deprived of everything in his possession at arrest.

In addition to the corrections officers and CDCR, Plaintiff names as Defendants the State of California and WSP Warden P. L. Vazquez.

After Defendants removed the case to federal court, Plaintiff requested judicial notice of various documents (Docs. 5, 7, 8, and 14). At any stage of a proceeding, "[a] court shall take judicial notice if requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information." Fed.R.Evid. 201(d) and (f). The Court may take judicial notice of any fact "not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is... (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). Accordingly, this Court notes that Plaintiff contends that he was deprived of his suit, shirt, tie, shoes, gold designer pen, cell phone, and his wallet and its contents, including debit and gift cards valued at $2500.00 (Doc. 5). The Director's Level appeal decision concluded that WSP staff had complied with applicable regulations (Cal. Code Regs., tit. ...

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