Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Reyes v. Franco

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

December 21, 2018

MARK REYES, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN GERMAN FRANCO, DEPUTY WARDEN ALICIA LUCERO, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Prisoner's Civil Rights Complaint filed by Plaintiff, Mark Reyes (Doc. 1). The Court determines that the Complaint fails to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and will be dismissed without prejudice. The Court also grants Plaintiff Reyes leave to file an amended complaint.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Mark Reyes[1] is a prisoner incarcerated at the Penitentiary of New Mexico (“PNM”). (Doc. 1 at 1). Reyes alleges deprivation of constitutionally protected rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom from unreasonable seizures by deductions from Plaintiff's prison inmate account for debts that were incurred for postage and legal copies between 2000 and 2005. Reyes claims that the deductions from the account by prison officials are illegal because: (1) Plaintiff's sentence and incarceration were illegal; (2) Plaintiff is indigent and all legal mail and legal copies are free to indigent inmates; (3) in 2010 Plaintiff obtained a legal name change and is no longer liable for any debts incurred under the name of “Mark Reyes”; and (4) in 2013, Plaintiff signed an authorization for a deduction of 50% of monies deposited in the account but, off and on, the prison deducts all of the monies deposited into the account. (Doc. 1 at 4-5).

         Reyes alleges damage from the deduction of monies in the inmate account and freezing of the account. The claimed damage includes an inability to purchase food, hygiene, clothing, and medical items from the commissary, loss of books due to inadequate funds to mail them home, loss of copies of legal documents due to inadequate funds to mail them home, and an inability to complete the publication process for the name change due to lack of funds. (Doc. 1 at 7-10, 17-27). Plaintiff's request for relief asks for reimbursement of the amounts that have been deducted from the inmate account, release from all liability for any debt owed the prison, all mail sent free-of-charge, payment of the publication costs for the name change, replacement of 97 specified books, a one-year subscription to “Shape” magazine, and a number of clothing items to be ordered at the prison's expense. (Doc. 1 at 17-27).

         Reyes' inmate account statements contained in the record do not support any allegation that the prison has taken all of the money in Plaintiff's account. While the account statements do show some deductions by the prison to cover prior debt for postage charges, the statements also show ongoing charges by Reyes for commissary purchases and postage. (Doc. 2 at 5-8, Doc. 4 at 2).

         II. Standard for Failure to State a Claim

         Plaintiff Reyes is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under either Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleadings. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The Court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Okla. Dep't of Human Servs., 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Under Section 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss the complaint at any time if it determines that the action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(2). The authority granted by Section 1915 permits the Court the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). See also Hall, 935 F.2d at 1109 (10th Cir. 1991). The authority to “pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations” means that a court is not bound, as it usually is when making a determination based solely on the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). Nor is the Court required to accept the truth of the plaintiff's allegations but instead may go beyond the pleadings and consider any other materials filed by the parties, as well as court proceedings subject to judicial notice. Id. at 32-33.

         The Court liberally construes the factual allegations in reviewing a pro se complaint. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). However, a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants, and a pro se plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court. Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10th Cir. 1994). The Court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the plaintiff or to supply factual allegations to support the plaintiff's claims. Nor may the Court assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110.

         In deciding whether to dismiss the complaint, in whole or in part, the Court is to consider whether to allow plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint. Pro se plaintiffs should be given a reasonable opportunity to remedy defects in their pleadings. Reynoldson v. Shillinger, 907 F.2d 124, 126 (10th Cir. 1990). The opportunity to amend should be granted unless amendment would be futile. Hall, 935 F.2d at 1109. An amendment is futile if the amended claims would also be subject to immediate dismissal under the Rule 12(b)(6) or Section 1915(e)(2)(B) standards. Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004).

         III. Analysis of Plaintiff Reyes' Claims

         Plaintiff claims that the deductions from his inmate account were made in violation of his due process, equal protection, and Fourth Amendment rights. (Doc. 1 at 3). The named Defendants in this case are Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia Lucero. (Doc. 1 at 1). As factual support for the claims against these Defendants, Plaintiff Reyes alleges:

The defendants Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia Lucero were informed in writing by me in 2015 that my account money was being taken again even though I don't owe money . . . The Warden German Franco and Deputy Warden Alicia Lucero are directly responsible for this ongoing violation because they have known about it since 2013 and have not stopped charging ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.