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James v. Calipatria State Prison

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 10, 2014

LOUIS JAMES, CDCR #AE-7438, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIPATRIA STATE PRISON; G.W. JANDA; A. CASTRO; E. TRUJILLO; GROTH; R.N. NELSON; CARPIO; M.C. MORALES; J.M. BUILTEMAN; MARTEL; J.D. LOZANO; CALIFORNIA DEP'T OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) AND § 1915A(b)

BARRY TED MOSKOWITZ, Chief District Judge.

I. Procedural History

On April 17, 2014, Louis James ("Plaintiff"), currently incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison located in Coalinga, California and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). On May 19, 2014, this Court GRANTED Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP but sua sponte dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim and for seeking monetary damages against immune defendants. See May 19, 2014 Order, ECF No. 3, at 8. Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified by the Court. Id. On June 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (ECF No. 5.)

II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)

A. Standard of Review

As the Court stated in its previous Order, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program, " "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions of the PLRA, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.

All complaints 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)).

B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

"Section 1983 creates a private right of action against individuals who, acting under color of state law, violate federal constitutional or statutory rights." Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1074 (9th Cir. 2001). "To establish § 1983 liability, a plaintiff must show both (1) deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." Tsao v. Desert Palace, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128, 1138 (9th Cir. 2012).

C. Access to Courts

On October 20, 2011, Plaintiff alleges Defendants performed a cell extraction while Plaintiff was in his cell "in the process of working on his case." (FAC at 5.) Plaintiff further claims that Defendants searched all of his legal paperwork and when it was returned to him it was "in complete disarray and some of it was missing." ( Id. )

Prisoners do "have a constitutional right to petition the government for redress of their grievances, which includes a reasonable right of access to the courts." O'Keefe v. Van Boening, 82 F.3d 322, 325 (9th Cir. 1996). In Bounds, 430 U.S. at 817, the Supreme Court held that "the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons who are trained in the law." Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). To establish a violation of the right to access to the courts, however, a prisoner must allege facts sufficient to show that: (1) a nonfrivolous legal attack on his conviction, sentence, or conditions of confinement has been frustrated or impeded, and (2) he has suffered an actual injury as a result. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353-55 (1996). An "actual injury" is defined as "actual prejudice with respect to contemplated or existing litigation, such as the inability to meet a filing deadline or to present a claim." Id. at 348.

Here, Plaintiff has failed to alleged any actions with any particularity that have precluded his pursuit of a non-frivolous direct or collateral attack upon either his criminal conviction or sentence or the conditions of his current confinement. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355; see also Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002) (the non-frivolous nature of the "underlying cause of action, whether anticipated or lost, is an element that must be described in the complaint, just as much as allegations must describe the official acts frustrating the litigation."). Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to show that he has been actually injured by any specific defendant's actions. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351. Plaintiff provides no adequate factual allegations regarding the nature of his legal proceedings. He must provide more detail than simply referring to his "legal petitions."

In short, Plaintiff has not alleged that "a complaint he prepared was dismissed, " or that he was "so stymied" by any individual defendant's actions that "he was unable to even file a complaint, " direct appeal or petition for writ of habeas corpus that was not "frivolous." Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351; Christopher, 536 U.S. at 416. Therefore, Plaintiff's access to courts claims must be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which section 1983 relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), § 1915A(b). If Plaintiff chooses to file an amended ...


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