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Franklin v. Lewis

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 27, 2017

JEFFREY ANTHONY FRANKLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
G. D. LEWIS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO REMAINING FEDERAL CLAIM; AND REMANDING STATE LAW CLAIMS TO STATE COURT

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the California State Prison - Sacramento, filed this action as a civil action in the Del Norte County Superior Court, Case No. CVUJ13-1181, alleging constitutional violations that occurred during his previous incarceration at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”). Defendants removed the action to federal court on the ground that certain of his claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         The claims pending in this action include the following: a First Amendment claim stemming from the mishandling of three pieces of his legal mail in 2011; and various related claims under state law. Dkt. 1 at 13-30.[1] Plaintiff named the following as Defendants: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Former Secretary Matthew Cate; PBSP Warden G. D. Lewis; Former Chief of the Office of Appeals J. Lozano; Former PBSP Chief Deputy Warden Defendant M. Cook; Former PBSP Associate Warden P. Smith; and PBSP Captain Defendant T. Wood. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

         Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 50. Plaintiff, although granted the opportunity to do so, has not filed an opposition to Defendants' motion.[2]

         For the reasons outlined below, the Court GRANTS the motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's First Amendment claim, and remands his remaining state law claims to state court.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         After this action was removed to federal court, the Court issued a scheduling order upon finding that Plaintiff had alleged the following cognizable claims against the named Defendants:

         (1) a violation of the First Amendment based on Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants, on various occasions:

         (a) improperly failed to deliver his “privileged” incoming and outgoing mail “on or about the 30th day of September 2011 and on or about the 5th day of October 2011 up to and including the 26th day of July 2012”; and

         (b) participated in “a series of events that led to their witholding [sic], seizing, [and] storing [his] privileged correspondences of September 30, 2011 and October 5, 2011”;

         (2) similar violations of the First Amendment against those Defendants who reviewed Plaintiff's prison grievances and/or 602 inmate appeals and did not remedy the aforementioned First Amendment violations; and

         (3) a retaliation claim against Defendants for retaliating against Plaintiff for filing prison grievances relating to the aforementioned First Amendment violations. Dkt. 13 at 2 (citing Dkt. 1 at 13-30). As mentioned, Plaintiff also alleged that Defendants' aforementioned actions violated provisions of California state law. The Court noted that “federal supplemental jurisdiction statute provide[d] that “‘district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.'” Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)). Thus, the Court found that, liberally construed, Plaintiff's allegations satisfied the statutory requirement. Id. Accordingly, the Court decided to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. Id. The Court also dismissed all claims against the Doe Defendants. Id. at 2-3.

         Pursuant to the briefing schedule, Defendants first moved to dismiss the complaint on the following grounds, namely that: (1) they were immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment as to Plaintiff's official-capacity damages claims; (2) Plaintiff's claims for mental or emotional injuries were barred under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) because he did not allege that he suffered a physical injury; and (3) Plaintiff's state law claims should be dismissed or, in the alternative, should be limited because Plaintiff failed to comply with the claim presentation requirements under the California Government Tort Claims Act (“CTCA”). Dkt. 14. The Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. Dkt. 20. First, the Court denied Defendants' motion as to the first ground because they waived their Eleventh Amendment immunity as to the entire case when they removed this case to federal court. Id. at 2-3. Second, because Plaintiff's complaint raised First Amendment claims, the Court determined that he need not allege a physical injury as a precondition to recovering damages. Id. at 3-4. On this basis, the Court denied Defendants' motion as to the second ground that Plaintiff's damages claims based on mental or emotional injuries must be dismissed under section 1997e(e). Id. Third, the Court granted Defendants' request to limit Plaintiff's state law claims to those that were properly presented to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board in claim number G607201. Id. at 4-7. In essence, aside from the state law claims stemming from the alleged July 26, 2012 constitutional violations, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss as to their argument that Plaintiff failed to comply with the CTCA as to the remaining state law claims. Id. at 7 (emphasis in original). The dismissal was without prejudice to Plaintiff filing a motion to reconsider the dismissal of those remaining state law claims if he could in good faith properly allege compliance with the CTCA.[3] Id. The Court then directed Defendants to file a motion for summary judgment (if they believed the remaining claims could be resolved by summary judgment), and issued a second briefing schedule. Id. at 7-8.

         Pursuant to the second briefing schedule, Defendants filed their first motion for summary judgment based on the ground that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), as to his federal claims. Dkt. 27. On September 13, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part the motion for summary judgment as to the federal claims and continued to retain supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. Dkt. 45. Specifically, the Court granted Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's retaliation claim and denied it as to his First Amendment claim relating to the mishandling of legal mail. Id. at 8-14. The Court then directed Defendants to address the remaining First Amendment and state law claims pursuant to a third briefing schedule. Id. at 14-15.

         Pursuant to the third briefing schedule, Defendants' have now filed another dispositive motion-the instant motion for summary judgment based on the following grounds that: (1) Plaintiff cannot establish his First Amendment claim because he cannot show the requisite personal involvement by Defendants or that Defendants are liable for the misconduct alleged; (2) Plaintiff cannot provide evidence sufficient to support his state-law claim for concealment and intentional misrepresentation; and (3) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Dkt. 50 at 5.

         Having read and considered the papers submitted herewith, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the federal claim, and remands the remaining state law claims to state court.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that a party may move for summary judgment on some or all of the claims or defenses presented in an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)(1). The district court shall grant summary judgment when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) (requiring citation to “particular parts of materials in the record”). If the moving party meets this initial burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine issue for trial exists. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).

         A district court may only consider admissible evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Orr v. Bank of America, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). In support of the motion for summary judgment, Defendants have presented declarations from the following: Defendants Cook, Lozano, Smith, and Wood; PBSP Mailroom Supervisor R. Kuzmicz; and Deputy Attorney General Alicia A. Bower (Defendants' attorney). Dkts. 51-55, 60.

         While Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to the motion for summary judgment, he has filed a verified complaint. Dkt. 1 at 32. The Court will construe this filing as an affidavit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, insofar as they are based on personal knowledge and set forth specific facts admissible in evidence. See Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 460 & nn.10-11 (9th Cir. 1995).

         IV. FIRST ...


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