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Charles A. Rogers v. S. Ponce

December 20, 2010

CHARLES A. ROGERS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
S. PONCE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (Doc. 1) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Charles A. Rogers ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action was filed in Kings County Superior Court on March 6, 2009. On June 11, 2009, Defendants removed the action to federal court.

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 "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted," or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)).

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

II. Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, Corcoran. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Vargas, library technician, refused to provide him with copies of case citations so he can do adequate legal research to file a civil action. (Doc. 1-1, Comp., p. 8, ¶ 1.) Additionally, Defendants Vargas and Polk have a practice of discriminating against economically challenged inmates by not providing appropriate numbers of copies of documents to file in court. (Id., p. 9, ¶¶ 14, 15.) Plaintiff submitted a grievance which was denied by Defendants Vargas and Ponce. (Id., p. 8, ¶¶ 3, 5.) Plaintiff's grievance complained that Defendant Vargas keeps inadequate hours in the law library. (Id., p. 8, ¶¶ 7, 10.) On April 2, 2008, Plaintiff wanted to do research in the law library and Defendant Vargas did not open the library because she had been redirected to another facility due to a staff shortage. (Id., p. 8-9, ¶¶ 10, 11.)

Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Vargas, Ponce, and Polk alleging violations of his right to access the courts, economic discrimination, retaliation for filing a previous grievance against the law library program, breach of mandatory duty, and equal protection. He is seeking punitive and exemplary damages for emotional distress and believes he will suffer future damages if Defendants conduct is allowed to continue.

For the reasons set forth below Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief. Plaintiff shall be given the opportunity to file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies described by the Court in this order. In the paragraphs that follow, the Court will provide Plaintiff with the legal standards that appear to apply to his claims. Plaintiff should carefully review the standards and amend only those claims that he believes, in good faith, are cognizable.

III. Discussion

A. Access to the Courts

Inmates have a fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996); Hebbe v. Pliler, 611 F.3d 1202, 1206 (9th Cir. 2010). The right is merely the right to bring to court a grievance the inmate wishes to present, and is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas petitions, and civil rights actions. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354. To bring a claim, the plaintiff must have suffered an actual injury by being shut out of court. Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002); Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351.

Initially, the Court advises Plaintiff that an allegation that he may suffer future harm if Defendants conduct is allowed to continue is speculative and does not give Plaintiff standing to bring a federal claim. Mayfield v. United States, 599 F.3d 964, 970 (9th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim as there is no indication that he suffered any ...


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