United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER SCREENING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT, AND
GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
(ECF No. 1) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE
Steven Deon Turner, Jr. is a state prisoner proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983.
before the Court for screening is Plaintiff's complaint,
filed on May 21, 2019. (ECF No. 1.)
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 on
which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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
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.
SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS
Court accepts Plaintiff's allegations in his complaint as
true only for the purpose of the sua sponte
screening requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
names M. Munoz, A. Gray, Frye, Vasquez, and John Doe
Correctional Officer as Defendants.
alleges that, on April 6, 2018, Defendant Munoz opened
Plaintiff's confidential mail from the Superior Court of
California, County of Kern outside of Plaintiff's
August 7, 2018, Defendant Munoz opened Plaintiff's
confidential mail from the Council on American Islamic
Relations outside of Plaintiff's presence.
September 17, 2018, the California Supreme Court sent
confidential mail to Plaintiff, but Plaintiff never received
the piece of mail. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Gray, the
legal mail officer, and Defendant Munoz are both responsible
and contractually bound to make sure that Plaintiff receives
his confidential/legal mail. Further, Plaintiff alleges that
“the acts under the color of state law perpurtrated
(sic) by Defendants M. Munoz and A. Gray, was no
less than sabotage with malice intent and a criminal and
chain conspiracy, to prevent Plaintiff, from exercising his
right to petition the government for redress of
grievance.” (ECF No. 1, at 5.)
March 3, 2019, Plaintiff sent confidential mail to various
individuals, including “Daniel K. Greene for the United
States No. 19-141C[.]” (Id. at 6.)
Correctional Officer Chavez signed Plaintiff's 22 form,
which Plaintiff converted to a proof of service, confirming
that Plaintiff sent out the mail as confidential mail.
Plaintiff sent the 22 form to mailroom staff E. Atencio and
Defendant Munoz. The mail room staff informed Plaintiff that
the confidential mail addressed to Daniel K. Greene did not
go out. Plaintiff alleges that, on March 3, 2019, Defendant
John Doe stole Plaintiff's confidential mail addressed to
Daniel K. Greene in case # 19-141C, with the malicious intent
to sabotage Plaintiff's case. Plaintiff further asserts
that “this is reprisal and retailiation (sic)
by all defendants, demonstrating the[ir] active ca[m]paign of
harrassment (sic) against the plaintiff, in the form
of a chain conspiracy, due to pending appeals & civil
litigation. (Id.) On March 7, 2019, Plaintiff turned
in an emergency appeal for mail theft, log number
15, 2019, Plaintiff sent his appeals, log number
CCI-0-19-00978 for mail theft and log number CCI-0-19-00472
for a yard issue, to the Chief, Inmate Appeals Branch,
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Frye signed Plaintiff's 22 form in
front of Defendant Vasquez, “which he converted into a
proof of service, confirming Plaintiff sent out” the
two appeals as confidential mail. (Id. at 7.)
Plaintiff then sent the 22 form to the mail room. Mail room
staff member E. Atencio informed Plaintiff that one of the
two appeals was sent out. Plaintiff alleges that, since only
one of the two appeals was sent out, Defendants Frye and
Vasquez committed confidential mail theft by stealing one of
the two appeals in order to prevent Plaintiff's appeal
from reaching the third level of review in an attempt to hide
the misconduct of their fellow officers, thinking that their
act would prevent Plaintiff's complaint from being
successful. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Frye's and
Vasquez's actions were a conspiracy that was designed to
prevent Plaintiff from exercising his right to petition the
government for redress of grievances.
April 25, 2019, at 9:45 a.m., Islamic services were called
and all buildings were released. Defendant Vasquez was
working in the tower on that date and time and was
responsible for releasing Plaintiff for Islamic service.
However, Defendant Vasquez did not allow Plaintiff to attend
Islamic services. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Vasquez
discriminated against Plaintiff by not allowing Plaintiff to
attend Islamic services in retaliation for Plaintiff's
exercise of his right to petition and pending litigation
against individuals and California Correctional Institution
as a whole.
18, 2019, in the mailroom of California Correctional
Institution, Defendant Munoz opened Plaintiff's
confidential mail from the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals
outside of Plaintiff's presence.
asserts that Defendants Munoz, Gray, Frye, Vasquez, and John
Doe are sued in both their individual and official
alleges that his confidential mail has been intercepted and
trashed, that his appeals get trashed or held for months and
are never returned, in hopes that Plaintiff will give up on
seeking justice for the wrongs that he has suffered at the
hands of officers at California Correctional Institution.
Plaintiff asserts that “these appeals have been held
for six months, and one still have (sic) not come
back[:]” log numbers CCI-0-17-0216, CCI-0-17-00697,
CCI-0-17-00778, CCI-0-17-00782, and CCI-0-16-01-540.
seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory
damages, punitive damages, costs of suit, and any additional
relief that the Court deems just, proper, and equitable.
lawsuit is a single claim against a single defendant. Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) allows a plaintiff to add
multiple claims to the lawsuit when they are against the same
defendant. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) allows a
plaintiff to join multiple defendants to a lawsuit where the
right to relief arises out of the same “transaction,
occurrence, or series of transactions” and “any
question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise
in the action.” However, unrelated claims that involve
different defendants must be brought in separate lawsuits.
See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
2007). This rule is not only intended to avoid confusion that
arises out of bloated lawsuits, but also to ensure that
prisoners pay the required filing fees for their lawsuits and
prevent prisoners from circumventing the three strikes rule
under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. 28 U.S.C. §
case, Plaintiff's claims for violating the First
Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, conspiracy, and
retaliation arising out of Defendant Vasquez's decision
to not release Plaintiff for Islamic services are not related
to Plaintiff's claims involving his mail because
Plaintiff's religious claims do not raise out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transaction as
Plaintiff's mail claims. If Plaintiff elects to amend his
complaint, Plaintiff shall choose which claims he wishes to
pursue in this action. If Plaintiff does not do so and his
amended complaint against sets forth unrelated claims which
violate joinder rules, the Court may dismiss the unrelated
claims as improperly joined.
asserts that he is suing each of the named Defendants in both
their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages, injunctive relief, and declaratory relief
against each of the named Defendants.
against state officials in their official capacity …
should be treated as suits against the State.”
Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991); Holley v.
Cal. Dep't of Corr., 599 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th Cir.
2010) (treating prisoner's suit against state officials
in their official capacities as a suit against the state of
California). An official capacity suit “represent[s]
only another way of pleading an action against an entity of
which an officer is an agent.” Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (citation omitted).
Such a suit “is not a suit against the official
personally, for the real party in interest is the
entity.” Id. at 166.
Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal
court against a state, its agencies, and state officials
acting in their official capacities.” Aholelei v.
Dep't of Public Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147
(9th Cir. 2007). Therefore, Plaintiff's claim for
monetary damages against all of the named Defendants in their
official capacity is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
a claim for prospective injunctive relief against a state
official in his or her official capacity is not barred by the
Eleventh Amendment provided the official has authority to
implement the requested relief. Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 92 (1989).
Moreover, “[a] plaintiff seeking injunctive relief
against the State is not required to allege a named
official's personal involvement in the acts or omissions
constituting the alleged constitutional violation.”
Hartmann v. Cal. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab.,
707 F.3d 1114, 1127 (9th Cir. 2013); see Rouser v.
White, 707 F.Supp.2d 1055, 1066 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (proper
defendant for injunctive relief in suit seeking
implementation of CDCR policy is the CDCR Secretary in his
official capacity). Instead, Plaintiff need only identify the
law or policy challenged as a constitutional violation and
name the official or officials within the entity who is or
are alleged to have a “fairly direct” ...