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Lopez-Valle v. Calif. City Corr. Facility

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 17, 2015

ANTONIO LOPEZ-VALLE, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIF. CITY CORR. FACILITY, Defendant.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT

GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil Rights action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

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).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions, " none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (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." Nietze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n. 9 (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

Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at the Dalby Correctional Facility in Post, Texas, brings this civil rights action against the California City Correctional Facility, where Plaintiff was housed at the time of the events complained of. Plaintiff's claim stems from the deliberate loss of his legal property.

Plaintiff alleges that on June 23, 2012, "while possessing legal material pertaining to his criminal case in the California City Correctional Facility, " his legal material was confiscated. Plaintiff alleges that after he was questioned by Correctional Officers, his material was confiscated. Plaintiff was transferred to his current facility without his materials.

Plaintiff does not specifically articulate his particular claim. Plaintiff does refer to a criminal case. To the extent that Plaintiff is seeking a 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 (1973); Young v. Kenny, 907 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1126 (1991).

To the extent that Plaintiff is seeking to challenge the destruction of personal property, he is advised that while an authorized, intentional deprivation of property is actionable under the Due Process Clause, see Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 532, n.13 (1984)(citing Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 435-36 (1982)); Quick v. Jones, 754 F.2d 1521, 1524 (9th Cir. 1985), "[a]n unauthorized intentional deprivation of property by a state employee does not constitute a violation of the procedural requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if a meaningful post-deprivation remedy for the loss is available." Hudson, 468 U.S. at 533.

California law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy for any property deprivations. See Ca. Gov't Code §§ 810-895; Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816-17 (9th Cir. 1994). California's Tort Claims Act requires that a tort claim against a public entity or its employees be presented to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, formerly known as the State Board of Control, no more than six months after the cause of action accrues. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 905.2, 910, 911.2, 945.4, 950-950.2 (West 2006). Presentation of a written claim, and action on or rejection of the claim are conditions precedent to the suit. State v. Superior Court of Kings County Bodde, 32 Cal.4th 1243, 1245 (2004); Mangold v. California Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 67 F.3d 1470, 1477 (9th Cir. 1995). To state a tort claim against a public employee, a plaintiff must allege compliance with the Tort Claims Act. State v. Superior Court, 32 Cal.4th at 1245; Mangold, 67 F.3d at 1477.

To the extent that Plaintiff alleges the confiscation of his property was unauthorized and intentional, Plaintiff's remedy would be found under California law. Plaintiff fails to show compliance with the California Tort Claims Act, and therefore his property claim is not cognizable under federal or state law.

To the extent that Plaintiff is claiming that he was denied access to the courts, Plaintiff must allege some conduct on behalf of an individual that indicates Plaintiff suffered actual injury. Supreme Court precedent a provides that all inmate claims for interference with access to the court include "actual injury" as an element. Casey v. Lewis, 518 U.S. 343 (1996).

To establish a 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." Plaintiff refers to a "criminal case." The Court is unable to determine whether Plaintiff is referring to a prison disciplinary ...


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