United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge.
U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights matter has been referred to
Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 636 (b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Magistrate Judge
Rules MJR 1, MJR 3, and MJR 4.
Robert Dean Griffin, Jr., alleges that defendants violated
his right to access the courts when they failed to provide
him a legal document in time for him to file a personal
restraint petition (“PRP”) before the statute of
limitations expired. However, defendants have shown that
plaintiff's judgment and sentence became final in 2005,
meaning that the statute of limitations for a PRP expired
over a decade ago. Plaintiff has thus not alleged an actual
injury caused by defendants' alleged actions. Therefore,
the Court recommends that plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. 41) be denied, that defendants'
cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 44) be granted, and
that plaintiff's action be dismissed. The Court also
recommends denying plaintiff's motion to amend or alter
the judgment (Dkt. 53).
and PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case was transferred to this Court from the Eastern District
of Washington in July of 2017. Dkt. 1. Plaintiff filed his
second amended complaint, the operative complaint in this
action, in March of 2018. Dkt. 31. Plaintiff alleges that
defendant Thompson, a law librarian, failed to provide
plaintiff with a copy of his amended judgment and sentence
before the one-year statute of limitations to file a PRP
expired. Id. He thus claims that he is now barred
from filing a PRP challenging the judgment and sentence
because of defendant Thompson's actions. Id.
Plaintiff also alleges that he notified defendants White and
Bennett about defendant Thompson's actions, but they both
failed to take any action. Id.
filed a motion for summary judgment in April of 2018. Dkt.
41. Defendants filed a response to that motion, as well as a
cross-motion for summary judgment, in May of 2018. Dkt. 44.
Defendants argue that plaintiff has not shown he has suffered
a harm from defendant Thompson's alleged actions, and
that he has not pled personal participation as to defendants
White and Bennett. Id.
has now also filed a motion to alter or amend (Dkt. 53),
requesting the Court amend his judgment and sentence pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59.
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute over the material facts before the
court and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Zweig v. Hearst Corp., 521 F.2d 1129,
1136 (9th Cir. 1975), overruled on other grounds
by Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 F.2d 1564
(9th Cir. 1990). The moving party is entitled to summary
judgment if the evidence produced by the parties permits only
one conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 251 (1986). To determine if summary judgment is
appropriate, the court must consider whether particular facts
are material and whether there is a genuine dispute as to the
material facts left to be resolved. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Where
there is a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the non-moving party's case on which the
nonmoving party has the burden of proof, all other facts are
rendered immaterial, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Anderson,
477 U.S. at 254 (“the judge must view the evidence
presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary
burden”). However, when presented with a motion for
summary judgment, the court shall review the pleadings and
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (citation omitted), and
“a pro se complaint will be liberally construed . . .
.” Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th
Cir. 1992) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976)) (other citation omitted).
First Amendment Right to Access the Courts
single claim for relief is that defendants restricted his
access to the courts in violation of his Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. However, because plaintiff
claims his right to access to the courts has been violated,
the Court interprets this as an allegation that his First and
Fourteenth Amendment protections were violated, rather than
his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment protections.
have a “fundamental constitutional right of access to
the courts.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817,
828 (1977). In Bounds, the Supreme Court held that
the right of access imposes an affirmative duty on prison
officials to assist inmates in preparing and filing legal
papers, either by establishing an adequate law library or by
providing adequate assistance from persons trained in the
law. Id. at 828. In Lewis v. Casey, 518
U.S. 343 (1996), the Supreme Court held that a prisoner must
show some actual injury resulting from a denial of access in
order to allege a constitutional violation. Id. at
establish that he suffered an actual injury, plaintiff must
show “actual prejudice with respect to contemplated or
existing litigation, such as the inability to meet a filing
deadline or to present a claim.” Lewis, 518
U.S. at 348; Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403,
415, (2002); Nevada Dep't of Corr. v. Greene,
648 F.3d 1014, 1018 (9th Cir. 2011); Phillips v.
Hurst, 588 F.3d 652, 655 (9th Cir. 2009). “Failure
to show that a ‘nonfrivolous legal claim has been
frustrated' is fatal to ...