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Hearns v. Hedgpeth

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 1, 2014

CLARENCE L. HEARNS, Plaintiff,
v.
A. HEDGPETH, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 10.)

GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

Clarence L. Hearns ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on February 13, 2013, at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (Doc. 1.) On June 4, 2013, the court dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend. (Doc. 9.) On June 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 10.) On October 4, 2013, the court issued an order dismissing defendants Terrance, Hedgpeth, Jensen, Medina, Halderman, Noland, and Perez from this action with prejudice, and transferring the case to the Eastern District of California. (Doc. 11.)

On April 3, 2014, Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and no other parties have made an appearance. (Doc. 14.) Therefore, pursuant to Appendix A(k)(4) of the Local Rules of the Eastern District of California, the undersigned shall conduct any and all proceedings in the case until such time as reassignment to a District Judge is required. Local Rule Appendix A(k)(3).

Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, filed on June 27, 2013, is now before the court for screening. (Doc. 10.)

II. 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 is required to 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678. While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id . The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

III. SUMMARY OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is presently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, California. The events at issue in the First Amended Complaint allegedly occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in Delano, California, and Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) in Soledad, California. As discussed above, on October 4, 2013, the court dismissed defendants Terrance, Hedgpeth, Jensen, Medina, Halderman, Noland, and Perez from this action with prejudice. (Doc. 11.) Therefore, Plaintiff now proceeds only against the remaining named defendants, who it appears were all employed at KVSP at the time of the events at issue: Kelly Harrington (Warden), R. Marta, C. Lawless, J. Amavisca, M.D. Biter, S. Bandt, M. Farley, T. Billings, and B. Reavos (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiff's factual allegations regarding these Defendants follow.

On December 30, 2009, Plaintiff was transferred from KVSP to SVSP without his personal or legal materials. Plaintiff had three boxes of personal property and seven boxes of legal property that should have been transferred to SVSP. Plaintiff showed defendant R. Marta his active federal habeas case and requested permission to ship all of the boxes. Defendant Marta refused to allow Plaintiff's property to be transported to SVSP, despite knowing of Plaintiff's court proceedings. When Plaintiff arrived at SVSP, he was told that none of his property had been shipped with him. Plaintiff used the administrative appeals system to find out who failed to transport the boxes, and why the boxes were not shipped with him, but was unable to get any information. Because Plaintiff's boxes were missing, he was unable to use any of his legal material contained in the boxes, and as a result, Plaintiff's federal habeas corpus petition was denied.

On March 1, 2010, defendant C. Lawless sent a letter to Plaintiff, responding to a January 29, 2010 letter Plaintiff sent to defendant KVSP Warden Harrington complaining of misconduct in failing to ensure that Plaintiff's property was transported with him to SVSP. Defendant C. Lawless stated that no misconduct was discovered, and that Plaintiff's property had been shipped out on December 30, 2009.

On March 11, 2010, Plaintiff filed a state habeas corpus petition seeking the return of his property. On May 12, 2010, the Superior Court ordered Warden Hedgpeth (Warden, SVSP) [not a defendant] and defendant Kelly Harrington (Warden, KVSP) to respond with status of Plaintiff's property at KVSP and whether Plaintiff could present proof of ownership of his property to KVSP. Defendants R. Marta, C. Lawless, J. Amavisca, M.D. Biter, S. Bandt, M. Farley, T. Billings, and B. Reavos, and non-defendants T. Terrance and Arthur Perez, contributed information and documents for the response to the court's order, as follows:

Defendant M. Farley took possession of the ten boxes of Plaintiff's personal property on December 30, 2009, then transferred possession to defendant Reavos that same day. The document offered entitled CDC 143 has these two individuals' names on it; however there are no names or signatures in the space reserved for the receiving institution's personnel to indicate receipt of the property. Several bills of lading from private carriers were also submitted to the court, representing that the property was given to two separate carriers, Golden State Overnight and Dependable Highway Express, for ...

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