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Gerald Lewis Austin, #A1076082 v. Mail Room [At] Halawa Correctional Facility

December 1, 2011

GERALD LEWIS AUSTIN, #A1076082, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAIL ROOM [AT] HALAWA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, WITNESS COUNSELOR MEGAN OWENS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND ACTION

Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Gerald Lewis Austin's prisoner civil rights complaint. Austin is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility ("HCF") and is proceeding in forma pauperis. ECF No. 4. Austin names the HCF Mailroom as the only defendant to this suit, alleging that his mail was improperly handled.*fn1 Austin's Complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915(A)(b)(1). /

I. STATUTORY SCREENING

The court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners that relate to prison conditions and/or seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if its claims are legally frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (c)(1).

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory; or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To state a claim, a pleading 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). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ---, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 1951.

The court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, accept all allegations of material fact as true, and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears at all possible that the plaintiff can correct the defects of his or her complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

III. DISCUSSION

"To sustain an action under section 1983, a plaintiff must show '(1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional or statutory right.'" Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 987 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

A. Austin's Claim

Austin's Complaint is somewhat unclear. He states that, on or about May 31, 2011, the HCF Mail room "sent [him] a legal package from court reporting Services that contained legal deposition documents/evidence [in] CV10-00692 JMS-KSC," that it had opened and inspected outside of his presence. See ECF No. 1, Compl. at 5, Count I.*fn2 Austin says that "the package was delivered" to HCF on May 12, 2011, which is approximately two weeks before he received the package. In Count II, Austin clarifies that the package was stamped "INSPECTED" when he received it and that it was "from court" "Buisness [sic] office." Austin discussed the opening of this mail from the court with his counselor, Megan Owens, and says that she is his witness to this alleged infraction. Austin seeks $1,000,000,000 in damages. The court construes Austin's claim as alleging a violation of the First Amendment.

B. The HCF Mailroom is Improperly Named as a Defendant

Plaintiff lists the HCF Mailroom as the only Defendant. Claims under § 1983 are directed at "persons" -- a jail, prison facility, or prison mailroom is not a "person" amenable to suit under § 1983. See Allison v. California Adult Auth., 419 F.2d 822, 823 (9th Cir. 1969) (finding that California Adult Authority and San Quentin Prison are not "person[s]" subject to suit under § 1983); Foster v. Walsh, 864 F.2d 416, 418 (6th Cir. 1988) (a court is not a "person" within the meaning of that term as used in ยง 1983). To the ...


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