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Wallace v. Ducart

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 15, 2017

GEORGE ELLIS WALLACE, Plaintiff,
v.
C. E. DUCART, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF PARTIAL DISMISSAL AND OF SERVICE; GRANTING MOTION FOR SCREENING AND DENYING DEFENDANT DUCART'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NOS. 18, 24.

          JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY United States Magistrate Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a California prisoner, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against officials at Pelican Bay State Prison.[1] The Court reviewed the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), found that it stated a cognizable claim under the First Amendment against Defendant Warden C.E. Ducart, and ordered the United States Marshal to serve the summons and complaint upon him. (ECF No. 10.) In the same order, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint once he learned the name of the “Doe” defendants. On January 17, 2017, Ducart filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cognizable claim for relief against him. On March 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion and a First Amended Complaint naming F. Richards, S. Ramirez, L. Gutierrez, J. Preston, D. Bradbury, and M. Voong, all of whom are prison officials, as defendants. (ECF Nos. 21, 22.) The next day, Ducart filed a motion requesting screening of the First Amended Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). (ECF No. 23.)

         As the original complaint is superseded by the First Amended Complaint, Ducart's motion to dismiss the original complaint is DENIED as moot.[2] Ducart's motion for screening of the First Amended Complaint is GRANTED. For the reasons discussed below, service of the summons and the First Amended Complaint is ordered upon Defendants Richards, Ramirez and Gutierrez and dispositive motions are scheduled. The claims against Defendants Preston, Bradbury and Voong are DISMISSED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). Although to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 1974.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         LEGAL CLAIMS

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant F. Richards fired him from his prison job in the kitchen, Defendant S. Ramirez confiscated his television and moved him to a different part of the prison, and Defendant L. Gutierrez threatened to harm him, all because of Plaintiff's Muslim faith. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Ducart was put on notice of this misconduct but failed to correct it. Such allegations, when liberally construed, state a cognizable claim against these Defendants for violating his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religious beliefs and for the violation of his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Preston, Bradbury and Voong did not properly process, investigate, or grant his administrative appeals of these issues. These allegations, even if true, do not amount to the violation of the United States Constitution or other federal law because there is no federal constitutional right to a prison administrative appeal or grievance system. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003). Accordingly, Plaintiff does not state a cognizable claim for relief under Section 1983 against Defendants Preston, Bradbury and Voong.

         CONCLUSION

         1. Defendant Ducart's motion to dismiss is DENIED, and his motion to screen the ...


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