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Patrick v. Reyes

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 1, 2016

REYES, et al., Defendants.


          Michael J. Seng STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint before his initial complaint was screened. (ECF No. 15.) His complaint and first amended complaint were dismissed with leave to amend on the ground that neither was complete in itself. (ECF No. 17.) His second amended complaint is before the Court for screening.

         I. Screening Requirement

         The in forma pauperis statute provides, “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).

         II. Pleading Standard

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements:

         (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         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)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

         III. Plaintiff’s Allegations

         Plaintiff is incarcerated at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, but complains of acts that occurred at Wasco State Prison. He names the following Correctional Officers (“CO”) as defendants: Reynaga, Ziegler, Hurd, Mauldonado, Hernandez, Petroff, Dominguez, Rios, Morales, Solis, and Buttran.

         His allegations may be summarized essentially as follows:

         A. Background

         Plaintiff was arrested on July 7, 2014 and was detained at the Orange County Jail. Plaintiff believes that the “harassment” he experienced at Wasco State Prison was part of a chain of events and harassment that began at the jail. Thus, although the events occurring at the jail are not the subject of the instant action, [1] Plaintiff describes such events in some detail. Although difficult to dicipher, they appear to allege that he had difficulty learning of his court appearance dates and also had two cases improperly “combined” in retaliation for Plaintiff refusing a plea deal. He also was required to sign false inmate trust documents.

         B. Library Access

         Plaintiff was transferred to Wasco State Prison on August 5, 2015. On August 14, 2015, Plaintiff sent a request to the library for priority library user (“PLU”) status. Plaintiff had an August 26, 2015 deadline to file a notice of appeal in Case No. 14Wf2607.[2] On August 21, 2015, Plaintiff received a PLU form to complete. He completed and sent in the form listing his two case numbers, 14Wf2607 and 14Wf2141, and indicated he had an August 26, 2015 court deadline.

         On August 27, 2015, Officer Reynaga delivered the “unanswered” PLU form. By this time, Plaintiff’s court deadline had passed. Plaintiff was denied law library access.

         On August 28, 2015, Plaintiff attempted to re-submit the form. When Plaintiff attempted to place an envelope with the form in the mailbox, Officer Reynaga said, “Let me see the envelope.” Reynaga crossed out Plaintiff’s name on the envelope and told Plaintiff he was “good to go.” Plaintiff then inserted the envelope in the mailbox.

         By September 2, 2015, Plaintiff had not received a response. He mailed a request for interview to “the ...

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