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McManus v. M. Parra

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division, Department B

August 8, 2013

CHARLES McMANUS, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
M. PARRA, TARA HOYT, R. GAMEZ, SANDRA WALKER, CHRIS MENDOZA, and CHRIS LANG, Defendants/Appellees.

Not for Publication Rule 28, Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PIMA COUNTY Cause No. C20117533 Honorable James E. Marner, Judge

Charles McManus Florence In Propria Persona

MEMORANDUM DECISION

VIRGINIA C. KELLY, Presiding Judge

¶1 Charles McManus, an inmate in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC), appeals from the trial court's order dismissing his civil rights complaint against six ADOC employees. He argues the trial court erred in dismissing his complaint because the ADOC employees deprived him of property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. We affirm.

Background

¶2 "In reviewing a trial court's decision to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, we assume as true the facts alleged in the complaint . . . ." Fid. Sec. Life Ins. Co. v. State, 191 Ariz. 222, ¶ 4, 954 P.2d 580, 582 (1998). In October 2011, McManus filed a civil rights complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which he sought damages based on his allegation that the ADOC employees had deprived him of property—a television—without due process. The ADOC employees filed a notice in which they waived their right to answer the complaint unless the court determined McManus had a reasonable opportunity to prevail on the merits.[1] See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g). The trial court determined McManus did not have a reasonable opportunity to prevail and dismissed the complaint.

Discussion

¶3 McManus argues the trial court "arbitrarily dismissed" his complaint and erred "in not recognizing the constitution[al] violation." We review de novo the dismissal of a § 1983 complaint. See Burk v. State, 215 Ariz. 6, ¶ 6, 156 P.3d 423, 426 (App. 2007). We will affirm the dismissal only if, assuming the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint, McManus "would not be entitled to relief under any interpretation of the facts susceptible of proof." Fid. Sec. Life Ins. Co., 191 Ariz. 222, ¶ 4, 954 P.2d at 582.

4 Section 1983 allows a plaintiff to assert a cause of action against any person who, under color of state law or authority, deprives another person of "any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In reviewing § 1983 claims, we apply federal substantive law, rules and policies. Baker v. Rolnick, 210 Ariz. 321, ¶ 22, 110 P.3d 1284, 1289 (App. 2005). The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires a trial court to dismiss an action brought by an inmate with respect to prison conditions if it determines that the action is "frivolous, malicious, [or] fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." § 1997e(c)(1).

¶5 In his complaint, McManus claimed he was denied due process because the ADOC employees did not follow established prison policy in confiscating his television. Specifically, he alleged "[n]o disciplinary report was ever written" explaining why his television was taken, and the ADOC employees did not properly address his attempts, through the ADOC's administrative grievance process, to have the television returned to him. But, even assuming McManus's allegations are true, "a state's failure to follow its grievance procedures does not give rise to a § 1983 claim." Spencer v. Moore, 638 F.Supp. 315, 316 (E.D. Mo. 1986); see also Smith v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 19 Fed.Appx. 318, 321 (6th Cir. 2001) (inmate has "no constitutional right to . . . disciplinary or grievance systems that me[et] his standards").

6 Further, to the extent McManus alleges the ADOC employees acted without authority in depriving him of his property, this does not in itself establish a violation of due process. Under the doctrine of Parratt v. Taylor, a prisoner deprived of property by a "random and unauthorized act" of a state employee has no federal due process claim unless the state fails to afford an adequate post-deprivation remedy. 451 U.S. 527, 541 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). If an adequate post-deprivation remedy exists, the deprivation, although real, is not "without due process of law." Id. at 541-42. This doctrine applies to both negligent and intentional deprivation of property. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 530-33 (1984).

¶7 Here, as McManus asserts, he had access to and availed himself of post- deprivation remedies through the ADOC's administrative grievance process. McManus has not demonstrated the process was inadequate, and indeed acknowledges he received a replacement television as a result of it.[2] Further, as the trial court observed, McManus also had an adequate post-deprivation remedy through a state tort claim. See Hudson, 468 U.S. at 531 n. 11 (in context of prisoner complaint based upon property deprivation, state tort law remedy was "entirely adequate to satisfy due process"). Thus, even taking as true McManus's allegation that he was deprived of property, the deprivation was not "without due process of law." Parratt, 451 U.S. at 541-42. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in dismissing the complaint.[3]

Disposition

¶8 The trial court's order is affirmed.

CONCURRING: PETER J. ECKERSTROM, Judge, PHILIP G. ESPINOSA, Judge


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