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Valencia v. Gipson

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 24, 2016

CONNIE GIPSON, WARDEN, et al., Defendants.



         Abel Valencia, a California state prisoner appearing pro se, filed this action under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, in the California Superior Court, Kings County against various individuals employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (collectively “State Defendants”), [1] and FedEx Employee Sasebes. The State Defendants removed the matter to this Court.[2] Valencia’s complaint arises out of his incarceration at California State Prison-Corcoran. Valencia is presently incarcerated at the Pelican Bay State Prison.


         This Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.[3] This Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or that “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”[4] Likewise, a prisoner must exhaust all administrative remedies as may be available, [5] irrespective of whether those administrative remedies provide for monetary relief.[6]

         In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”[7] “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”[8] Failure to state a claim under § 1915A incorporates the familiar standard applied in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), including the rule that complaints filed by pro se prisoners are to be liberally construed, affording the prisoner the benefit of any doubt, and dismissal should be granted only where it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can plead no facts in support of his claim that would entitle him or her to relief.[9] This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.[10] “[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability . . . ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.’”[11] Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff’s legal conclusions as true.[12] “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”[13]


         Valencia’s action arises out of his incarceration in the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”) in CSP-Corcoran. Valencia alleges that the Defendants lost or caused to be lost certain family photographs that Valencia terms irreplaceable. Specifically, Valencia alleges that:

1. At the time he was transferred from the general population to the SHU he was not permitted to take all his personal property, including photographs of his deceased father as well as other members of Valencia’s family.
2. Valencia requested that the photographs be sent to a relative.
3. Because the package was misaddressed, the photographs were neither delivered to the relative to whom they were to be sent nor returned to him.
4. Fed-Ex Employee Sasebes failed to obtain the signature of an unknown defendant to whom the pictures were delivered and accepted before handing the pictures over.

         Valencia also alleges numerous errors in the processing of and decisions made with respect to his internal grievances regarding the loss of his photographs. Although Valencia does not seek any specific relief with respect to it, he also alleges that his incarceration in the SHU was the result of a false charge of Distribution of a Controlled Substance instead of Possession of Controlled Substance, the charge upon which a criminal complaint was based and on which he allegedly went to trial.[14] According to Valencia this supports his allegation that the State Defendants have engaged in a pattern of taking retaliatory actions against him.

         As and for relief Valencia seeks: (1) a declaration that the acts of Defendants violated his rights; (2) recovery of the pictures; (3) $300, 000 in compensatory damages for the loss of the pictures of his father; (4) $80, 000 for the loss of the pictures of other family members; (5) $50 ...

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