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Lugo v. Fisher

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 15, 2019

R. FISHER, et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff Keith Robert Lugo is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 5, 2018, Plaintiff initiated the instant action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. (ECF No. 1.) The Northern District transferred this action to the Eastern District of California on January 4, 2019. (ECF No. 7.) On March 1, 2019, Plaintiff's complaint was screened and an order was filed finding that Plaintiff had stated a cognizable claim for violation of the First Amendment based on a delay in delivery of his mail. (ECF No. 19.) Plaintiff was ordered to either notify the Court that he was willing to proceed on the claim found to be cognizable or file an amended complaint. (Id.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 20, 2019. (ECF No. 20.)

         On June 17, 2019, Plaintiff's first amended complaint was screened and it was found not to state a cognizable claim. (ECF No. 22.) Plaintiff was granted one final opportunity to file a second amended complaint. (Id.) Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed on July 3, 2019. (ECF No. 23.)



         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). “On review, the court shall 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         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)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). 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 Service, 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.



         The Court accepts Plaintiff's allegations in the second amended complaint as true only for the purpose of the sua sponte screening requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         Plaintiff brings this action against Correctional Officers L. Mayfield, Caitlan, and Angelina as Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges violation of his right to receive mail under the First Amendment and his right to access the court under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

         Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and has been housed at Valley State Prison (“VSP”) since April 16, 2013. The California Supreme Court sent Plaintiff a legal notice, dated February 8, 2018, informing him that as of February 13, 2018, the court would lose jurisdiction over his petition for review and any relief would have to be sought through a writ of habeas corpus. The letter was postmarked February 9, 2018, however, staff did not deliver this piece of mail until February 20, 2018. On February 27, 2019, Plaintiff received notice that his petition for review was returned unfiled because it was not received by February 13, 2018 and the court no longer had jurisdiction.

         Plaintiff alleges that long delays and loss of mail are an ongoing problem in the CDCR, including at VSP. Plaintiff asserts that Correctional Officers Mayfield, Caitlan, and Angelina, who all worked in and around the mailroom, knowingly violated the procedures for processing mail established by law, prison policy, and custom, and willfully withheld and/or refused to timely deliver Plaintiff's legal mail. Due to Mayfield's, Caitlan's, and Angelina's actions and/or inactions, default was entered, and Plaintiff was permanently barred from filing a petition for review with the California Supreme Court that raised colorable issues of constitutional importance that were critical to Plaintiff's prospective liberty from prison following an illegal parole hearing.

         Plaintiff states that the issues raised in his petition for review were whether the Board of Prison Terms violated Senate Bill 261 for failing to apply the legally correct standard of analysis and failing to give the appropriate weight to the diminished capacity of juveniles; whether the Board failed to meet the minimum burden of some evidence in finding that he was not really a kid. Plaintiff argues that due ...

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