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Baxter v. Bryce

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

April 23, 2014

RICHARD J. BAXTER, Plaintiff,
v.
DARREN BRYCE, Defendant.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KEITH STRONG, Magistrate Judge.

SYNOPSIS

Mr. Baxter alleges Defendant Bryce violated his First Amendment rights when he returned three books Mr. Baxter had ordered because one of the books contained nudity. (Complaint, Doc. 2.) Liberally construed, Mr. Baxter has stated a claim under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendant Bryce must respond to that claim. Mr. Baxter has not alleged that he was deprived of a constitutionally-protected property interest in the books at issue. His Fourteenth Amendment due process claims should be dismissed.

JURISDICTION

Mr. Baxter filed this action in federal court, in the Great Falls Division of the District of Montana. (Complaint, Doc. 2.) The Court has personal jurisdiction over the parties, all of whom are found in Montana. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A); Mont. R. Civ. P. 4(b). Read liberally, the Complaint attempts to allege a violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, invoking subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a). The case was assigned to Hon. Donald W. Molloy, United States District Court Judge, and referred to the undersigned. Local Rule 72.2(a)(1).

STATUS

Mr. Baxter is a prisoner in the custody of the State of Montana. His Complaint must be reviewed to determine if the allegations are frivolous, fail to state a claim upon 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)(B), 1915A. If so, the case must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b). This is the review.

STANDARDS

Stating a claim

A complaint must allege sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility is less than probability, but requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Pleadings that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the presumption of truth and may be disregarded. Id. at 679. A plaintiff must plead the essential elements of a claim to avoid dismissal. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

Leave to amend

The court liberally construes pro se pleadings. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987). "Unless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect... a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action." Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995).

Leave to amend a complaint should be given freely "when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. However, a district court should dismiss a complaint without granting leave to amend if amendments would be futile. Klamath Lake Pharmaceutical Ass'n v. Klamath Medical Services Bureau, 701 F.2d 1276, 1293 (9th Cir. 1983). "Leave to amend need not be given if a complaint, as amended, would ...


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