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Holt v. Gardner

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 10, 2020

CALVIN HOLT, Plaintiff,
v.
W. GARDNER, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR RELIEF [ECF NO. 37]

         Plaintiff Calvin Holt is appearing pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

         Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's third amended complaint, filed December 27, 2019.

         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 “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).

         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.

         II.

         COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

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

         On or about October 10, 2016, Plaintiff deposited regular mail in the institutional mail system that was placed in officer J. Vanaman's care who between October 10, 2016 and October 11, 2016, disregarded Plaintiff's mail into the trash. The mail was later discovered by inmate Robert Moore who reported the incident to his supervisor. Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal which was granted.

         In late 2017 or early 2018, Plaintiff began receiving a subscription to Bayview Newspaper, and his subscription was renewed on January 21, 2019, for monthly distribution. To date, Plaintiff has only received approximately eight of the newspapers for which John/Jane Does are liable.

         On April 9, 2018, Defendant Gardner summoned Plaintiff to the package/parcel window to pick up a regular mail parcel. However, after Plaintiff was provided the package, he discovered it was legal documents/mail which was further “blatantly bolstered by the envelope's above said labeling” which “any alert officer would have noticed.” Legal mail must be distributed pursuant to the strictly fashioned CDCR rules/guidelines (i.e. constitutional, privacy, recording, etc. safeguards) that governs the distribution by a designated officer and procedure. However, Defendant Gardner was not designed or serving in the capacity to distribute legal mail on June 8, 2018. When Plaintiff questioned Gardner about the legal mail procedure, Gardner became irate and argumentative, took back the legal documents, closed the window, and it sounded as though he was reprimanding the mailroom for malfeasance/negligence for improperly forwarding the legal mail to his room. Gardner then reopened the window and informed Plaintiff that he would be maintaining and returning the legal documents to the mailroom for proper distribution later that evening. A “Civil Complaint/Lawsuit that on the occurrence date was still within the time constraints for service upon his (i.e. C.O. W. Gardner's) colleague C.O. J. Vanaman ironically for the above stated mail violation, stated in the 1st claim of this passage.” Plaintiff did not receive the legal mail/documents until the time constraints for timely/lawful service had elapsed (i.e. which resulted in the filing of a motion to quash service of summons on April 30, 2018.

         On or about April 17, 2018, after Plaintiff did not receive his legal documentation, he filed an inmate appeal against Defendant Gardner, and Gardner was found guilty of violation of the mail policy.

         On August 12, 2018, Plaintiff deposited a green CDCR 602 appeal form in building D3's appeal mailbox against officer Pano for misconduct in violation of the Armstrong Remedial Plan provisions because he was deprived of medical shower. On September 20, 2018, a response in appeal log no. SATF-D-18-04704 was issued; however, Plaintiff the actual green appeal was not attached to the response, but a blank CDCR 1824 reasonable accommodation request was attached. The mail violations resulted in stonewalling/impeding the Plaintiff's right to redress a grievance. The green CDCR 602 form was never located and no one was held accountable.

         On December 31, 2018, Plaintiff ordered a first quarter package/parcel through his prepaid account which was received by the prison on January 14, 2019. However, Gardner did not distribute the package/parcel until February 18, 2019, in excess of the 15-day time constraints authorized per the rules. When Plaintiff filed a CDCR 22 form regarding the package, and on February 25, 2019, he received a response which indicated that the package was received in early February 2019 and delivered to Plaintiff's housing until on February 6, 2019.

         On March 10, 2019, Plaintiff properly mailed health care appeal form no. HC 18002239 via the institutional legal mail system. However, on March 22, 2019, the appeal was returned to Plaintiff contrary to protocol via regular mail from building D3 housing correctional officer who was not designed for distribution of confidential/legal mail. Plaintiff immediately prepared a CDCR 22 form informing the supervising sergeant ...


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