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Neal v. California Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 30, 2014

KEITH NEAL, Plaintiff
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION FOR DISMISSAL OF PLAINTIFF'S ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 9)

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

On May 6, 2011, Keith Neal ("Plaintiff"), an individual proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.)

The Court screened Plaintiff's initial and First Amended Complaints and dismissed them for failure to state a claim, but gave leave to amend. (ECF Nos. 1, 17, 18, 20.) Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Am. Compl., ECF No. 21) is now before the Court for screening. No other parties have appeared in the action.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678.

II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Plaintiff is currently housed at Valley State Prison. The events at issue in Plaintiff's Complaint occurred at Wasco State Prison ("WSP"). It appears Plaintiff seeks to assert claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments against M. Diaz, a prison official at WSP.

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

On February 15, 2011, Plaintiff tried to send documents to an attorney representing him in a criminal appeal. (Am. Compl. at 3.) Defendant Diaz took Plaintiff's mail, read it, and announced out loud that Plaintiff was a sex offender. (Id.) The inmates around Plaintiff's cell heard Defendant Diaz's announcement. (Id.)

Plaintiff asks for $5, 000 in punitive damages, $250, 000 for his emotional distress, and $20, 000 for the interference with his legal mail.

II. ANALYSIS

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims

42. U.S.C. § 1983 "provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n , 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). § 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for ...


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