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Harris v. McCall

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 4, 2014

MARVIN HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
J. McCALL, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF SERVICE AND DIRECTING COURT CLERK TO PROVIDE PLAINTIFF WITH BLANK CIVIL RIGHTS FORM

CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, a state prisoner incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the violation of his constitutional rights by employees at SVSP.[1] His motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted in a separate order.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id . § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant's actions both actually and proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. Lemire v. Cal. Dept. Corrections & Rehabilitation , 726 F.3d 1062, 1074 (9th Cir. 2013); Leer v. Murphy , 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg , 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of § 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. Leer , 844 F.2d at 633. Under no circumstances is there respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Lemire , 726 F.3d at 1074. Or, in layman's terms, under no circumstances is there liability under § 1983 solely because one is responsible for the actions or omissions of another. Taylor v. List , 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village , 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th Cir. 1984). A supervisor may be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of (1) personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation or (2) a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation. Henry A. v. Willden , 678 F.3d 991, 1003-04 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011)).

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff's sparse allegations state that Defendants C. Barela, J. McCall, P. Barnes and A. Partida retaliated against him for filing a lawsuit against staff by taking his legal and personal property from him and by deleting information from his criminal record. Plaintiff also states that, on January 10, 2014, Defendant McCall falsely accused him of burglary, oral copulation, petty theft, automobile theft, and assault on an inmate.

"Within the prison context, a viable claim of First Amendment retaliation entails five basic elements: (1) an assertion that a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate; (2) because of; (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a legitimate correctional goal." Rhodes v. Robinson , 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005) (footnote omitted). Prisoners may not be retaliated against for exercising their right of access to the courts. Schroeder v. McDonald , 55 F.3d 454, 461 (9th Cir. 1995). The right of access to the courts extends to established prison grievance procedures. Bradley v. Hall , 64 F.3d 1276, 1279 (9th Cir. 1995) overruled on other grounds by Shaw v. Murphy , 532 U.S. 223, 230 n.2 (2001). Thus, a prisoner may not be retaliated against for using such procedures. Rhodes , 408 F.3d at 567.

Liberally construed, Plaintiff's complaint alleges a First Amendment retaliation claim against the named Defendants. However, his allegation that McCall falsely accused him of committing various crimes does not state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff does not allege that McCall acted in retaliation for his filing lawsuits and calling someone names or lying about him is not a constitutional violation. See Cornejo v. County of San Diego , 504 F.3d 853, 855 n.3 (9th Cir. 2007) (stating that defamation, libel, and slander are state law causes of action); Freeman v. Arpaio , 125 F.3d 732, 738 (9th Cir. 1997) (recognizing that verbal harassment and abuse fail to state a claim cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983), overruled in part on other grounds by Shakur v. Schriro , 514 F.3d 878, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2008). Therefore, this claim is dismissed. Dismissal is with leave to amend for Plaintiff to allege a constitutional violation, if he truthfully can do so.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the Court ...


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