UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
June 24, 2011
MICHAEL DAYNE BRIDGEMAN, PLAINTIFF,
LIBRARY, GEORGE NEOTTI, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L.SammartinoUnited States District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM EDUCATION DEPARTMENT; LAW § 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b)
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff, a state inmate currently incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility located in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis and sua sponte dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b). (See Apr. 5, 2011 Order at 7-8.) The Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified in the Court's Order. (Id.) On May 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC").
II. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§§1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)
The PLRA's amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 also obligate the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any prisoner civil action and all other IFP complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 n.1 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A).
A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983
To state a claim under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that: (1) the conduct he complains of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that conduct violated a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).
B. Eleventh Amendment
As Plaintiff did in his original Complaint, he once again asserts claims against the "Education Department" and the "Law Library" of the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, along with the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility itself. (See FAC at 1.) The Court previously found that the claims against these Defendants must be dismissed for failing to state a claim and for seeking damages against defendants who are immune pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) & (iii). (See Apr. 5, 2011 Order at 3.) The State of California, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, an agency of the State of California, and Departments within the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, are not "persons" subject to suit under § 1983 and are instead, entitled to absolute immunity from monetary damages actions under the Eleventh Amendment. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 53-54 (1996); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984); see also Hale v. State of Arizona, 993 F.2d 1387, 1398-99 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that a state department of corrections is not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983). The Court previously dismissed the claims against the "Education Department" and the "Law Library" without leave to amend. (See Apr. 5, 2011 Order at 3.) Plaintiff did not heed the Court's previous Order and continued to rename these Defendants. They remain dismissed without leave to amend.
C. Access to Courts
Once again, Plaintiff alleges that correctional officers have denied him adequate access to the prison's law library. As the Court previously informed Plaintiff, prisoners do "have a constitutional right to petition the government for redress of their grievances, which includes a reasonable right of access to the courts." O'Keefe v. Van Boening, 82 F.3d 322, 325 (9th Cir. 1996); accord Bradley v. Hall, 64 F.3d 1276, 1279 (9th Cir. 1995). In Bounds, 430 U.S. at 817, the Supreme Court held that "the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons who are trained in the law." Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977).
Plaintiff was previously instructed that in order to establish a violation of the right to access to the courts, however, he must allege facts sufficient to show that: (1) a non-frivolous legal attack on his conviction, sentence, or conditions of confinement has been frustrated or impeded, and (2) he has suffered an actual injury as a result. (See Apr. 5, 2011 Order at 4 citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353-55 (1996)). An "actual injury" is defined as "actual prejudice with respect to contemplated or existing litigation, such as the inability to meet a filing deadline or to present a claim." Id. at 348; see also Vandelft v. Moses, 31 F.3d 794, 796 (9th Cir. 1994); Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166, 1171 (9th Cir. 1989); Keenan v. Hall, 83 F.3d 1083, 1093 (9th Cir. 1996).
Here, once again, Plaintiff has failed to alleged any actions with any particularity that have precluded his pursuit of a non-frivolous direct or collateral attack upon either his criminal conviction or sentence or the conditions of his current confinement. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355 (right to access to the courts protects only an inmate's need and ability to "attack [his] sentence, directly or collaterally, and ... to challenge the conditions of [his] confinement."); see also Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002) (the non-frivolous nature of the "underlying cause of action, whether anticipated or lost, is an element that must be described in the complaint, just as much as allegations must describe the official acts frustrating the litigation."). Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to show that he has been actually injured by any specific defendant's actions. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351.
In short, Plaintiff has not alleged that "a complaint he prepared was dismissed," or that he was "so stymied" by any individual defendant's actions that "he was unable to even file a complaint," direct appeal or petition for writ of habeas corpus that was not "frivolous." Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351; Christopher, 536 U.S. at 416 ("like any other element of an access claim[,] ... the predicate claim [must] be described well enough to apply the 'non-frivolous' test and to show that the 'arguable' nature of the underlying claim is more than hope."). Because the Court previously informed Plaintiff of these deficiencies in his pleading and he failed to allege any facts that would support these claims, Plaintiff's access to courts claims must be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which section 1983 relief can be granted without leave to amend. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126-27; Resnick, 213 F.3d at 446.
D. Respondeat Superior
Once again, Plaintiff names Warden Neotti as a Defendant in this matter but fails to set forth any factual allegations with regard to Defendant Neotti in the body of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. Thus, it appears that Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendant Neotti liable in his supervisory capacity. However, there is no respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Palmer v. Sanderson, 9 F.3d 1433, 1437-38 (9th Cir. 1993). Instead, "[t]he inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation." Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 370-71 (1976)). In order to avoid the respondeat superior bar, Plaintiff must allege personal acts by each individual Defendant which have a direct causal connection to the constitutional violation at issue. See Sanders v. Kennedy, 794 F.2d 478, 483 (9th Cir. 1986).
Supervisory prison officials may only be held liable for the allegedly unconstitutional violations of a subordinate if Plaintiff sets forth allegations which show: (1) how or to what extent they personally participated in or directed a subordinate's actions, and (2) in either acting or failing to act, they were an actual and proximate cause of the deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). As currently pleaded, however, Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to set forth facts which might be liberally construed to support an individualized constitutional claim against Defendant Neotti.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to state a section 1983 claim upon which relief may be granted , and is therefore subject to dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) & 1915A(b).
III.CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Good cause appearing therefor, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [ECF No. 4] is DISMISSED without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(b). The Court finds further amendment would be futile. See Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 339 (9th Cir. 1996) (denial of a leave to amend is not an abuse of discretion where further amendment would be futile); see also Robinson v. California Bd. of Prison Terms, 997 F. Supp. 1303, 1308 (C.D. Cal. 1998) ("Since plaintiff has not, and cannot, state a claim containing an arguable basis in law, this action should be dismissed without leave to amend; any amendment would be futile.") (citing Newland v. Dalton, 81 F.3d 904, 907 (9th Cir. 1996)).
The Clerk of Court shall close the file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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