United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) & 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)
CYNTHIA BASHANT, District Judge.
Daniel Acedo ("Plaintiff"), a former state prisoner incarcerated at Wasco State Prison ("WSP") in Wasco, California, proceeding pro se, brings this case pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On October 11, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), but simultaneously dismissed his Complaint sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. ( See Oct. 11, 2014 Order (ECF No. 4).) The Court further provided Plaintiff with notice of his Complaint's pleading deficiencies and granted him leave to amend. ( Id. at pp. 5-10.)
On October 31, 2014, and while he was still incarcerated at WSP, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 5 ("FAC").) On December 4, 2014, Plaintiff also filed a Notice of Change of Address which indicates he has since been released from custody. (ECF No. 6.)
II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS
In his original Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that while he was in custody at the San Diego Central Jail ("SDCJ") and George Bailey Detention Facility ("GBDF") from December 2013, through May 2014, the County of San Diego's Sheriff's Department and several Sheriff's Department officials violated his right to access to the courts by refusing to provide him with 28-lined pleading paper and other "forms" for filing legal actions in both state and federal courts. ( See Compl. (ECF No. 1) at 1, 3-5.) Plaintiff further argued that Sheriff's Department policies allowing inmates to "obtain 50-page print outs once a month" are unconstitutional because they are "very limited in its nature." ( Id. at 3.) Plaintiff sought injunctive relief as well as general and punitive damages. ( Id. at 7.)
In its October 11, 2014 Order, the Court first dismissed the San Diego Sheriff's Department as an improper defendant under § 1983. ( See Oct. 11, 2014 Order (ECF No. 4) at pp. 5-6 (citing Vance v. Cnty. of Santa Clara, 928 F.Supp. 993, 996 (N.D. Cal. 1996))). Second, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against Captain Pena on respondeat superior grounds. ( Id. at pp. 6-7 (citing Palmer v. Sanderson, 9 F.3d 1433, 1437-38 (9th Cir. 1993); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009))). Third, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's access to courts claims against all SDCJ officials (Vickery, Brown, and Avalos), finding both that he had failed to allege an "actual injury, " id. at p. 8 (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351-53 (1996)), and that he failed to describe the "non-frivolous nature of the underlying cause of action or claim that was either frustrated or lost as a result of their actions, id. at pp. 8-9 (citing Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 413-14 (2002)). Finally, the Court noted that an exhibit attached to Plaintiff's Complaint indicated that his access to courts claims appeared precluded by a prior state habeas corpus proceeding filed while he was still in County custody. ( Id. at p. 9 (citing Gonzales v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 739 F.3d 1226, 1231-34 (9th Cir. 2014))).
On October 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint (ECF No. 5), this time naming three different Defendants: the County of San Diego, its Sheriff, William D. Gore, and Legal Research Associates. He no longer names the Sheriff's Department, Captain Pena, Christina Vickery, Christine Brown, or Francis Avalos as parties, and his Amended Complaint alleges no causes of action against them. See S.D. CAL. CIVLR 15.1; Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1989) ("[A]n amended pleading supersedes the original."); Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that claims previously dismissed with leave to amend may be "considered waived if not repled.").
III. SCREENING OF PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT
A. Standard of Review
As Plaintiff knows, the Court is obligated by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") 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, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program, " at the time of filing "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(a) & (c). Under 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; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
Every 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]...a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. The "mere possibility of misconduct" falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id .; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).
While a plaintiff's factual 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). Indeed, while courts have an obligation "where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt, " Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)), it may not "supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th ...