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Meza v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 6, 2017

JESSIE MEZA, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, V. WATERS, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Jessie Meza (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on July 7, 2017 (ECF No. 1), which is now before the Court for screening.

         II. 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 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). “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).

         A complaint is required to 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)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, Courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To state a viable claim, Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is a Catholic. He believes “in the power of prayer, that prayer is most absolute when joined in by two or more persons, particularly in a church setting or otherwise, especially during a loved one's funeral.” He also believes “in a priest's ability to hear a person's confession and to absolve a person's sins, as well as a priest's ability to provide Holy Communion (eating the bread that represents the body of Christ.)”

         On November 12, 2016, Plaintiff's brother died. Plaintiff's family scheduled a Catholic mass and burial service.

         Two days after his brother's passing, Plaintiff met with his correctional counselor, Defendant Waters, to apply for “Temporary Community Leave (TCL)” to attend his brother's funeral. Prior to determining eligibility, Defendant Waters told Plaintiff that his TCL application would be denied. Defendant Waters later participated in the actual denial of Plaintiff's TCL application.

         Plaintiff was not able to attend his brother's funeral. There were institutional telephones available at Plaintiff's prison that could have been offered for Plaintiff's use during his brother's funeral. The phones were not offered.

         Plaintiff states that prison rules and regulations require extra security measures, such as a correctional officer escort on TCL, for gang-member dropouts.

         It is alleged that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has a custom or policy of categorically excluding “gang-member dropouts” like Plaintiff from participating in the TCL. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Waters has a custom or policy of categorically excluding “gang-member dropouts” like Plaintiff from participating in the TCL when officials in Defendant Waters' position at other CDCR institutions do not.

         Plaintiff requests compensatory damages of $40, 000 and punitive damages of $40, 000.

         IV. SECTION 1983

         The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the ...

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