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.

Ortiz v. Sheldon

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 16, 2018

PETER ORTIZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WARDEN SHELDON, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO United States District Judge

         Introduction

         This is a pro se civil rights action filed by Plaintiffs Peter Ortiz and John W. Perotti, both state prisoners. The action was originally filed only by Plaintiff Ortiz, who filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. On February 16, 2018, Plaintiffs Ortiz and Perotti filed an Amended Complaint adding Perotti as a Plaintiff, as well as additional Defendants. (Doc. No. 6.) In the now-operative Amended Complaint (hereinafter, “Complaint”), [1] the Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief and damages against officials and employees of the Mansfield Correctional Institution (“ManCi”), where they were incarcerated at the time the Complaint was filed, and the Stark County Clerk of Courts, based on purported constitutional rights violations in connection with the ManCi prison law library. (See id.) The ManCi officials and employees named as Defendants are: Warden Sheldon, Deputy Warden A. Hunsinger, Law Librarian McKalee Weidner and Administrative Assistant Mr. Basquin.

         The Plaintiffs first allege that Defendants Sheldon, Hunsinger, Weidner and the Stark County Clerk of Courts are liable to Plaintiff Ortiz for constitutional rights violations “due to” a policy requiring that any funds a prisoner makes in excess of $25 each month be credited to his fine for courts costs before any excess may be used for other purposes. The Plaintiffs contend this policy leaves Ortiz without sufficient funds to “mail his legal mail out of the prison, including his civil and criminal appeals” in violation of Due Process and his right of access to the courts. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

         Second, the Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Weidner has refused to allow Perotti to assist Ortiz and others in the law library and that she and Defendant Hunsinger have conspired to retaliate against Perotti for doing so and for filing grievances about the library. (See id., ¶ 10.) They allege retaliation and Due Process violations against Perotti on the basis that Weidner filed “falsified conduct report[s]” against him that were ultimately referred to a Rules Infraction Board, “where he was found guilty [and] given a punishment of law library restriction that violates his access to the court.” (Id. ¶¶ 10, 13.)

         On April 23, 2018, Perotti filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction in the case, seeking an order that the Defendants be compelled to allow him and other prisoners in segregation to have access to the law library and a legal computer. (Doc. No. 8.)

         Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, see Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), Federal District Courts are required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to review all complaints in which a prisoner seeks redress from “a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” and to dismiss before service any such action that the Court determines is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b); Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir. 2010). A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted when it lacks “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 470-71 (holding that the dismissal standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under §1915A). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Analysis

         Upon review, the Court finds the Plaintiffs' Complaint must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to allege any plausible constitutional claim.

         Access to the Courts

         First, the Plaintiffs have not alleged any plausible claim to the extent they contend they have been denied their constitutional right of access to the courts. Although prisoners have a right under the First Amendment of access to the courts, see Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821-24 (1977), the right is not unlimited and does not extend to every legal action or claim a prisoner wishes to pursue. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349, 355 (1996). “[A] prisoner's right of access to the courts is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas corpus applications, and civil rights claims challenging the conditions of confinement.” Courtemanche v. Gregels, 79 Fed.Appx. 115, 117 (6th Cir. 2003), citing Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355. “Impairment of any other litigating capacity is simply one of the incidental, and perfectly constitutional, consequences of conviction and incarceration.” Lewis, 518 U.S. at 355.

         Additionally, in order to state a cognizable claim, a prisoner must show that the defendants' actions actually prejudiced his efforts, Shehee v. Grimes, 39 Fed.Appx. 127, 129 (6th Cir. 2002), and that he suffered “an actual injury to existing or contemplated litigation which raises nonfrivolous claims.” Courtemanche, 79 Fed.Appx. at 117. That is, the prisoner must allege “specific facts showing that he suffered prejudice” to a non-frivolous direct appeal, habeas corpus application, or civil rights action challenging the conditions of his confinement. See McCurtis v. Wood, 76 Fed.Appx. 632, 634 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming dismissal of a prisoner's access to the court claim where the prisoner failed “to allege the exact nature of his frustrated claims, whether he actually had pending cases which were dismissed, or why he was unable to proceed on [the] alleged claims”).

         The Plaintiffs' allegations (that Ortiz is without sufficient funds to “mail his legal mail out of the prison” (Doc. No. 1. at ¶ 8) and that Perotti has been “unable” to file motions in “several of his civil and criminal appeals” (id. at ΒΆ 10)) are insufficient to allege the actual injury required to demonstrate a cognizable access to the courts claim. The allegations do not support a plausible inference that the conduct of any Defendant actually prejudiced the Plaintiffs, or caused them ...


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.