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MATTHEWS v. Liles

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 1, 2017

IVAN LEE MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
R. LILES,, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 39) FOURTEEN (14) DAY DEADLINE

          Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Findings and Recommendations

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Ivan Lee Matthews (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On January 25, 2016, the Court found that Plaintiff's fourth amended complaint stated cognizable claims against Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable (“Defendants”) for retaliation and denial of access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment arising from the denial of Plaintiff's legal papers. (ECF No. 22.)

         On September 6, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). By their motion, Defendants seek to dismiss the fourth amended complaint on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to state claims for retaliation and denial of access to courts in violation of the First Amendment and Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. In addition, Defendants move to strike Plaintiff's request for punitive damages as not recoverable as a matter of law based on the facts alleged, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). (ECF No. 39.) On September 29, 2016, Plaintiff opposed the motion, and Defendants replied on October 5, 2016. (ECF Nos. 43, 45.) The motion is deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(1).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court recommends that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part.

         II. Summary of Relevant Allegations in the Fourth Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently a state prisoner housed at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California. At the time of the events alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff was housed at the California Correctional Institution (“CCI”) in Tehachapi, California. Prior to Plaintiff's transfer to CCI, he was pursuing civil rights actions and habeas petitions in Monterey County Superior Court, Kings County Superior Court, and the California Court of Appeal.

         On April 4, 2012, Plaintiff transferred to CCI. At that time, Defendant Liles was a correctional sergeant and Defendants Sherrett and Cable were property officers.

         On April 19, 2012, Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable obstructed Plaintiff's right to pursue civil rights actions and habeas corpus petitions in Monterey County Superior Court, Kings County Superior Court, and the California Court of Appeal. Defendants took this adverse action against Plaintiff as retaliation, which caused actual injury by the dismissal of his court cases. Plaintiff alleges that he was unable to meet the courts' time limitations to file a response because he was deprived of 1, 500 to 2, 000 pages of his trial transcripts, 6 briefs, and 2 habeas corpus petitions that were required to be used in his cases after he was processed into CCI. Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable also deprived Plaintiff of property valued at $400.00 because he filed 602 appeals and staff complaints.

         On April 19, 2012, Plaintiff talked to Defendants Sherrett and Cable about the deprivation of trial transcripts, briefs, habeas corpus petitions, and property valued at $400.00. Plaintiff told Defendants that he had pending court deadlines to meet and needed possession of his legal and personal property. Defendants reportedly responded that Plaintiff did not have “shit coming” and if he wanted the items, then he should appeal or get it through the courts, since he knows how to sue people.

         In June 2012, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant Liles about the refusal of Defendants Sherrett and Cable to return the trial transcripts, briefs, habeas petitions, and property valued at $400.00. Plaintiff also told Defendant Liles about his pending court deadlines. Defendant Liles indicated that he know of Plaintiff's situation. Plaintiff asked if Defendant Liles was going to have Plaintiff's legal materials and property returned due to imminent and overdue court deadlines. Defendant Liles responded that it was not his problem and Plaintiff should 602 appeal it.

         On April 20 and 23, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a CDCR 22 Request for Interview, Item, or Service Form addressed to Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable requesting that they return his trial transcripts, briefs, habeas corpus petitions, and personal property valued at $400.00. Plaintiff did not receive a response.

         On May 20, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a staff complaint/602 appeal against Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable to the appeals coordinators. Plaintiff did not receive a response.

         On or about June 18 or 19, 2012, Plaintiff submitted another staff complaint/602 appeal against Defendants Liles, Sherrett, and Cable. On July 12, 2012, Plaintiff received a 602 rejection at the first level. On July 14, 2012, Plaintiff resubmitted the staff complaint/602 appeal with the corrective action necessary ...


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