United States District Court, E.D. California
CHRISTOPHER J. WARREN, Plaintiff,
MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING CORPORATION, CHRIS APKER, GEORGIANA PUENTES, AND JESSE BERNAL, Defendants.
SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
AMEND AND DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION (Doc.
LAWRENCE J. O’NEILL UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT TO PARTIES AND
in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest
caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote
inordinate time and resources to individual cases and
matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff,
this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and
matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The
parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of
United States Senators Feinstein and Boxer to address this
Court’s inability to accommodate the parties and this
action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to
conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge,
whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to
parties than that of U.S. District Judge Lawrence J.
O'Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil
trials set before Judge O'Neill trail until he becomes
available and are subject to suspension mid-trial to
accommodate criminal matters. Civil trials are no longer
reset to a later date if Judge O'Neill is unavailable on
the original date set for trial. Moreover, this Court's
Fresno Division randomly and without advance notice reassigns
civil actions to U.S. District Judges throughout the nation
to serve as visiting judges. In the absence of Magistrate
Judge consent, this action is subject to reassignment to a
U.S. District Judge from inside or outside the Eastern
District of California.
SCREENING REQUIREMENT AND STANDARD.
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,
malicious, 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);
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). Similarly, when a
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis but § 1915A
does not apply, the court “shall dismiss the case at
any time if the court determines” that the action
“is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” Pierce v. San Francisco
Exam'r, No. 15-CV-06051-EMC, 2016 WL 2851649, at *1
(N.D. Cal. May 16, 2016) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)). If an action is dismissed on one of these
three basis, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. §
1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or
appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not
alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not
qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d
1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).
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
mereconclusory 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)). While a plaintiff’s 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).
proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to
have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any
doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627
F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive
screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially
plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow
the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quotation marks omitted). The sheer possibility that
a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere
consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the
plausibility standard. Id.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
Christopher J. Warren is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Plaintiff
filed his complaint on June 20, 2016. Doc. 1. On July 1,
2016, he filed an amended complaint. Doc. 6, First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”). Plaintiff alleges that Management
and Training Corporation (“MTC”) and three of its
individual employees (Craig Apker, Geogiana Puentes, and
Jesse Bernal) are liable under California’s Bane Act
(Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1) because they forced him to make
copies of copyrighted materials, in violation of 17 U.S.C.
§ 506 and his First, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff raises no federal causes of action.
is incarcerated at federal prison in Taft, California, which
is operated by Defendant Management and Training Corporation
(“MTC”). FAC at Ct. R. 9. Defendant Apker is
warden of the prison. Id. His allegations are based
on the period of time where he was “hired” by MTC
staff to act as “the inmate copy clerk” on
February 1, 2014. Id. at Ct. R. 11. He states that
his job duties included making copies for various employees
at the facility, including Defendants Bernal (his unit
manager) and Puentes (the associate warden). Id.
Part of his job included copying entire books for staff
members. Id. While he was “slightly
concerned” about this practice, he was told that it was
acceptable because the copies “fell under the
exceptions to copyright protection statutes because it was
‘educational’ and for the ‘social cause of
rehabilitation.’” Id. at Ct. R. 12. He
alleges that Puentes ordered him to make “hundreds upon
hundreds of copies of entire textbooks, ” that these
orders were documented, and that this was done with
“the knowledge, permission and oversight” of
June and November of 2014, Plaintiff enrolled in a class on
intellectual property. Id. at Ct. R. 13. In this
class, “it became clear to him that MTC was violating
title 17 as part of the MTC COMMON PRACTICE.”
Id. Plaintiff reports that he raised the issue
“no less than three times” with three different
staff members. Id. at 14. The first “stopped
the practice for herself” but told him to “do as
your [sic] told, your [sic] an inmate, it’s not on
you.” Id. The second told him that he had
“warned” MTC about the fact that “someone
could get in trouble, ” but advised Plaintiff to
“keep doing what you are doing-you don’t have a
choice.” Id. The third responded by
threatening “to get the Major-the highest ranking
member of a security apparatus in the prison to come and
‘enforce’ so that inmates do ‘what they are
told by staff per policy.’” Id.
subsequently quit his position as copy clerk and attempted to
transfer to another facility several times “to get
separation from him at his MTC keepers for fear of
retaliation, fear that the would get caught and attempt to
blame the inmates - the Plaintiff for their own
misconduct.” Id. at Ct. R. 14-15. These
attempts were denied, apparently based on internal policy
considerations. Id.at Ct. R.15.
March of 2016, less that year after he quit his position as
copy clerk, Plaintiff filed an “administrative remedy
request” with the Bureau of Prison’s general
counsel, and notified him of the alleged copyright law
violations, and requested a transfer from MTC care.
Id. at Ct. R. 16. Bernal was subsequently observed
“raiding the Satellite Camp copy room.”
Id. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was informed that
all of the order forms documenting the copying practices were
missing and the copy room was being closed
“indefinitely.” Id. Plaintiff alleges
that these forms “are the one document that that shows
the liability of their staff members and company.”
Id. at Ct. R. 17. He also claims that MTC “has
shredded pallets and pallets of evidence, keeping only 3
boxes of copied books as the ‘evidence of their
internal investigation.’” Id. His
request for transfer was denied on April 4, 2016.
Id. at Ct. R. 16. Plaintiff filed a second request
on April 10, 2016, in which he alleged that MTC was
conducting a “cover-up. On April 19, 2016 he filed a
third request, wherein he stated claims for retaliation.
Id. These requests were denied on April 29, 2016.
Id. A fourth request, filed April 30, 2016, was also
denied. Id. at Ct. R. 17. On June 6, 2016 he filed a
claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act with the BOP.
reports that MTC has since changed their photocopying
practices “to include copyright notices and
higher-authority sign offs before copying can be done.”
Id. He also reports that MTC has begun working with
publishers to obtain licenses to use materials. Id.
However, he claims that since this time he has “now
suffered intolerable work and living environments,
retaliation, deprivation of civil rights and emotional
distress.” Id. at Ct. R. 24.
now brings two claims against Defendants for violation of the
Bane Act, which are premised on violations of his
constitutional rights, ...