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Hoang Minh Tran v. J. Haar

August 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge



On October 25, 2010, plaintiff Hoang Minh Tran ("Plaintiff"), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 14, 2011, the Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend due to various deficiencies in pleading. On March 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a First Amended*fn1Complaint. On May 6, 2011, the Court dismissed the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend due to deficiencies in pleading. On June 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (the "Second Amended Complaint" or "SAC"). For the reasons stated below, the Second *fn2 Amended Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

Congress mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portions thereof, before service of process if it concludes that the complaint (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1-2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).


Plaintiff alleges that the following four defendants violated his civil rights: (1) medical doctor J. Haar ("Dr. Haar"); (2) correctional officer Glaviz Doe ("Officer Glaviz"); (3) acting sergeant Floerky Doe*fn3 ("Sergeant Floerky"); and (4) medical doctor M. Viggianelli ("Dr.The Court will cite to the Second Amended Complaint and its Viggianelli") (collectively, "Defendants"). (SAC at 3-4). Plaintiff sues all Defendants in their individual capacities. (Id.).

While Plaintiff's claims are confusing, they appear to focus primarily on allegations of deliberate indifference to medical needs and denial of access to the courts. (See SAC at 5-10). In Claim One, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Haar and Dr. Viggianelli were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs following his hernia operation. (Id. at 5). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Haar "deliberatedly [sic] failured [sic] to provide Plaintiff . . . with his Vicodin 500 mg or better medication." (Id. at 5-6). Plaintiff also alleges that after Plaintiff filed a grievance, Dr. Haar retaliated by confiscating Plaintiff's cane, "hernia support binder," and "hearing impairment yellow vest." (Id.). In Claim Three, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Viggianelli covered up Dr. Haar's misconduct by preparing a false report and also wrongfully denied Plaintiff a prescription for Vicodin. (Id. at 9-10).

In Claim Two, Plaintiff appears to allege that Officer Glaviz denied him access to the courts by ordering him to leave the prison law library. (SAC at 7). Plaintiff further alleges that in ejecting Plaintiff from the law library, Officer Glaviz engaged in "[v]erbal harassment and physical threaten maner [sic], including manhandling with the use of excessive force." (Id. at 3). Plaintiff also alleges that following this incident, Officer Glaviz filed a false "write-up a minor CDC&R rule violation called 128B chrono to punished [sic] [Plaintiff] for disciplinary [sic] in which could cost [Plaintiff] to lose his A1A privilege of prisoner daily life movement." (Id. at 7). Plaintiff alleges that Officer Floersky is liable because he "did not intervened [sic] or assisted [Plaintiff in the library], although [Plaintiff] clearly explaining [sic] the mistaken situation, verbally complaining about his subordinates officer [sic] of abuse his authority power." (Id. at 8).

Plaintiff seeks $150,000.00 in compensatory damages, $350,00.00 in general damages, and $50,000.00 in special damages. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff also requests injunctive relief, asking the Court to "enjoin the Defendants, as well as their successors, from engaging in any future conduct related to this civil action . . . ." (Id.).


Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint due to defects in pleading. Pro se litigants in civil rights cases, however, must be given leave to amend their complaints unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1128-29. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend, as indicated below.

A. Plaintiff's Claims For Denial Of Access To The Courts Must Be Dismissed For Failure To State A Claim

The claims in the Second Amended Complaint against Officer Glaviz and Sergeant Floerky alleging that Plaintiff was denied access to the law library fail to state a claim. (SAC at 3, 7-8). As the Court instructed Plaintiff in dismissing his original Complaint and First Amended Complaint, a prisoner does not have a "freestanding right" to a law library or legal assistance. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351, 116 S. Ct. 2174, 135 L. Ed. 2d 606 (1996)). Law library access is relevant only as it pertains to a prisoner's right to have a "reasonably adequate opportunity to present claimed violations of constitutional rights to the courts." Lewis, 518 at 350-51. To state a valid claim for denial of access to the courts, a plaintiff must allege an "actual injury." Hebbe, 627 F.3d at 342. To establish actual injury, the inmate must demonstrate that official acts or omissions "hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim." (Id.) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Plaintiff's allegations still do not show an "actual injury." At most, the Second Amended Complaint describes a single incident when the officers ordered Plaintiff to leave the library because he did not have a pass and it was not his designated quad's time for library access. (See SAC at 7-8; see also id. Exh. C at 1). Although Plaintiff alleged that he "suffered a high-intense emotional anxiety attack in his cell later that evening," (id. at 7), he does not allege that he was unable to present his claims to the court due to the officers' actions. Therefore, Plaintiff has not alleged an "actual injury" and this claim must be ...

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