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Green v. Franklin

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 1, 2017

CEDRIC EUGENE GREEN, Plaintiff
v.
FRANKLIN, et al., Defendants.

         ORDER (1) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT; (2) DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO FILE PLAINTIFF'S LODGED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT NUNC PRO TUNC; (3) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' REQUEST TO SCREEN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; AND (4) DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NOS. 29, 31, AND 33)

          MICHAEL J. SENG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On August 31, 2016, the then-assigned magistrate judge screened Plaintiff's complaint and found it to state a cognizable First Amendment claim against Defendants Franklin and Ramos.[1] (ECF No. 11.) These Defendants appeared on April 28, 2017, by filing a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff did not file an opposition to the motion; instead, he lodged a First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 31.) Defendants now move the Court to screen this new pleading. (ECF No. 33.)

         I. Screening Requirement

         The in forma pauperis statute provides, “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).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 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. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory 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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

         III. Plaintiff's Allegations

         At all times relevant to this action, Plaintiff was a state inmate housed at California Substantive Abuse Treatment Facility (“CSATF”) in Corcoran, California. He names as Defendants Mail Room Employee Ms. Franklin and Appeals Coordinator Mr. Ramos.

         Plaintiff's allegations may be fairly summarized as follows:

         Plaintiff maintains a “correspondence approval” to communicate with his brother, an inmate in the New York Department of Corrections. This approval is transferrable among California Department of Corrections (“CDCR”) institutions, and it was in Plaintiff's Central File at CSATF as early as October 19, 2012.

         On February 27, 2014, Plaintiff received a CDCR Form 1819[2] informing him that he has received mail from his brother, but that the mail “was being disapproved due to ‘no approval on file in the mail room.'” That same day, Plaintiff submitted a request for a copy of his “correspondence approval” to ...


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