United States District Court, Eastern District of California
Gregory Ell Shehee, Plaintiff, Pro se, COALINGA, CA.
ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
Gary S. Austin, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE IN THIRTY DAYS
I. Screening Requirement
Plaintiff is a civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
" Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), 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). " Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."
Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, " the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). " [A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).
II. Plaintiff's Claims
This action proceeds on the May 5, 2014, first amended complaint. Plaintiff is a civil detainee in the custody of the California Department of Mental Health at Coalinga State Prison. Plaintiff's complaint consists of a rambling, disconnected narrative, punctuated with references to an underlying offense that Plaintiff was charged with. Although unclear from the allegations in the first amended complaint, Plaintiff appears to be challenging some type of disciplinary process at Coalinga State Hospital. Plaintiff also references access to legal documents and Plaintiff's ability to litigate civil actions that he has filed. Plaintiff names as Defendants the following individuals: Chief of Police Carter; Sgt. Maylin; Officer Magayo; Officer Smith; former Litigation Coordinator Villalobos; Unit Supervisor Perryman.
Regarding any challenges to a criminal conviction, Plaintiff is advised that when a prisoner challenges the legality or duration of his custody, or raises a constitutional challenge which could entitle him to an earlier release, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973); Young v. Kenny, 907 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1126, 111 S.Ct. 1090, 112 L.Ed.2d 1194 (1991).
As to any challenge to a disciplinary process, Plaintiff is advised that a claim for damages for unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if a judgment in favor of plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence, unless the prisoner can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has previously been invalidated. 512 U.S. at 487. In applying the principle to the facts of Balisok, the Court held that a claim challenging the procedures used in a prison disciplinary hearing, even if such a claim seeks money damages and no injunctive relief, is not cognizable under § 1983 if the nature of the inmate's allegations are such that, if proven, would necessarily imply the invalidity of the result of the prison disciplinary hearing. 520 U.S. at 646. Because such a challenge, if successful, would invalidate the duration of the inmate's confinement, it is properly brought as a habeas corpus petition and not under § 1983. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487; Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973).
Regarding any claim regarding access to the courts, Plaintiff is advised that he must allege facts indicating that he has suffered actual injury. Because states must ensure indigent prisoners meaningful access to the courts, prison officials are required to provide either (1) adequate law libraries, or (2) adequate assistance from persons trained in the law. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977). Under prior law, Bounds was treated as establishing " core requirements, " such that a prisoner alleging deprivation of the Bounds minima need not allege actual injury to a state constitutional claim. Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166, 1171 (9th Cir. 1989). Recent Supreme Court precedent abolishes such approach, however, providing that all inmate claims for interference with access to the court include " actual injury" as an element. Casey v. Lewis, 518 U.S. 343, 116 S.Ct. 2174, 135 L.Ed.2d 606 (1996).
To establish a Bounds violation, prisoner must show that his prison's law library or legal assistance program frustrated or impeded his ability to pursue a nonfrivolous legal claim.
Casey, supra, 518 U.S. 343, 347. The right of access does not require the State to " enable the prisoner to discover grievances" or to " litigate effectively once in court."
Here, the Court finds Plaintiff's allegations to be vague. Plaintiff sets forth a generalized allegations, and names individual defendants. To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant acted under color of state law and (2) the defendant deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). " A person deprives another of a constitutional right, where that person 'does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which [that person] is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.'" Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 988 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). " [T]he 'requisite causal connection can be established not only by some kind of direct, personal participation in the deprivation, but also by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.'" Id. (quoting Johnson at 743-44). Plaintiff has not specifically charged each defendant with conduct indicating that they deprived Plaintiff of a protected interest. The complaint should therefore be dismissed. Plaintiff will, however, be granted leave to file an amended complaint.
Plaintiff need not, however, set forth legal arguments in support of his claims. In order to hold an individual defendant liable, Plaintiff must name the individual defendant, describe where that defendant is employed and in what capacity, and explain how that defendant acted under color of state law. Plaintiff should state clearly, in his or her own words, what happened. Plaintiff must describe what each ...