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Lopez v. Garcia

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 3, 2014




I. Procedural Background

Michael Anthony Lopez ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison ("CSP") located in Imperial, California, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Initially, this action was filed by two Plaintiffs, Tyrone Rogers and Michael Anthony Lopez, who are state inmates currently incarcerated at Centinela State Prison. On May 17, 2011, the Court severed the claims and the parties. Plaintiff Rogers was permitted to proceed in Rogers v. Giurbino, et al., S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 11cv0666 BTM (PCL), while the Clerk of Court was directed to open a new action for Plaintiff Lopez. That new action is the action that is currently before this Court. On September 6, 2011, this Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP, denied his Motion for Appointment of Counsel, dismissed Defendants Giurbino, Ayala, Narvis, Foston, "unnamed Defendant 1, " and "unnamed Defendant 2, " as the claims against these Defendants related to the claims brought solely on behalf of Plaintiff Rogers. (ECF No. 7 at 3.) The Court further found that Counts 2 and 3, Plaintiff Lopez's First Amendment claims and Fourteenth Amendment due process claims survived the sua sponte screening process required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). ( Id. )

The remaining Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on December 2, 2011. (ECF No. 17.) The Court denied Defendant Kastner and Garcia's Motion to Dismiss and granted Uribe, Brown, Grannis and Hodge's Motion to Dismiss. ( Id. at 7.) Plaintiff was then given the option of choosing to proceed with the claims that remained or file an Amended Complaint. ( Id. at 8.) Plaintiff filed a notice of intention to proceed with Counts 2 and 3 in his Complaint against Defendants Kastner and Garcia. (ECF No. 24.) Defendants Garcia and Kastner filed their Answer on March 30, 2012. (ECF No. 25.)

Currently before this Court is Defendant Garcia and Kastner's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition to which Defendants have filed a Reply. (ECF Nos. 51, 52.) In addition, Defendants have filed Objections to Plaintiff's evidence in support of his Opposition. (ECF No. 52.)[1]

II. Plaintiff's factual allegations

Plaintiff alleges that his true name is "Michael Anthony Lopez" and claims that this is supported by the abstract of judgment issued in Orange County Superior Court following his criminal conviction. ( See Compl. at 10.) On August 19, 2009, Plaintiff learned from an Investigator with the Orange County Alternate Defenders Office that his legal mail was being returned by "CEN Mailroom staff supervisor L. Kastner." ( Id. ) Specifically, Plaintiff was informed his mail was being "tampered with" and several pieces of legal mail from July to October 2009 had been returned to the Investigator. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that the CEN mailroom staff never informed him of the attempts to deliver his mail. ( Id. )

On August 8, 2009, Plaintiff requested a copy of a "Special Purpose Letter" from the CEN mailroom in order for him to be able to obtain a summary of his outgoing and incoming legal mail. ( Id. ) On September 2, 2009, Defendant Alicia Garcia, Office Service Supervisor, interviewed Plaintiff with regard to his mail. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was informed by Defendant Garcia that any mail addressed to "Michael Lopez" was being returned because in the CDCR's "Distributed Data Processing System" ("DDPS") Plaintiff is listed as "Fredierick Lopez, "[2] not Michael Anthony Lopez. ( Id. ) Plaintiff had received other legal mail addressed to Michael Lopez. ( Id. at 10-11.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Garcia failed to notify him of the mail that was rejected and further she failed to "properly correct known DDPS discrepancy." ( Id. )

III. Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment

A. FED.R.CIV.P. 56 Standard of Review

Rule 56(a) provides that a court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Nat'l Ass'n of Optometrists & Opticians v. Harris, 692 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2012)(quoting FED.R.CIV.P. 56(a)); see also Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1218 (9th Cir. 2007).

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, " which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c)); Zoslaw v. MCA Distrib. Corp., 693 F.2d 870, 883 (9th Cir. 1982). The "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. ...

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