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Holguin v. Qualls

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 5, 2017

PABLO HOLGUIN, Plaintiff,
v.
J. QUALLS, Defendant.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR RELIEF [ECF No. 1]

         Plaintiff Pablo Holguin is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff declined United States Magistrate Judge jurisdiction; therefore, this matter was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.[1]

         Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, filed March 15, 2017.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The 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 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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 demonstrate that each named defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-677; Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-1021 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, but the pleading standard is now higher, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted), and 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 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff names correctional officer J. Qualls as the sole Defendant in the complaint. The events at issue in the complaint took place at Avenal State Prison.

         On December 5, 2013, at 2:40 p.m., Qualls was distributing prisoner incoming mail, and was presented with an envelope addressed to Plaintiff. While handling the envelope, Qualls's attention was directed to the stamp, which at close inspection revealed contraband. At no time did Plaintiff take physical possession of the envelope, or have personal knowledge of the specific envelope and letter. Plaintiff also did not know the female who allegedly sent the letter, Mrs. Marina Ramirez.

         Qualls proceeded to conduct a careful and extensive search of Plaintiff's locker area and bed location, but failed to discovery any drug or related paraphernalia.

         On this same date, Qualls took five photographs, three of the contraband found, and two of Plaintiff' right arm depicting a rose tattoo with scar tissue in its midst (old needle marks). Qualls failed to provide the senior hearing officer with the two photographs of Plaintiff's inner-right arm.

         Qualls subsequently drafted a rules violation report, No. FB-14-01-006 to punish Plaintiff in violation of the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff contends that in drafting the rules violation report, Qualls omitted exculpatory evidence, i.e. the photographs of Plaintiff's inner-right arm.

         Plaintiff contends Qualls was fully aware that the contraband found in the stamp of the envelope failed to meet the requirements for possession or constructive possession of the letter. Qualls issued the false rules violation report to deprive Plaintiff of certain privileges.

         III. ...


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