Maxfeild v. C/O Kautz et al
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (Doc. 7) IN FULL, and Count IV of the Complaint (Doc. 2 at 18) is DISMISSED for failure to state a claim. Transmitted electronically to prison for delivery to Plaintiff. Signed by Judge Dana L. Christensen on 11/20/2020. (HEG)
Case 9:20-cv-00073-DLC-KLD Document 9 Filed 11/20/20 Page 1 of 3
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
VAUGHN GARY MAXFIELD,
C/O KAUTZ, CORPORAL KAUTZ,
SERGEANT MODEN, C/O JANE DOE,
and MISSOULA COUNTY,
Before the Court is the Findings and Recommendations of United States
Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto, entered on October 28, 2020. (Doc. 7.)
Judge DeSoto recommends that the Court dismiss the fourth count of Plaintiff
Vaughn Gary Maxfield’s Complaint (Doc. 2) for failure to state a claim. Maxfield
does not object to the recommendation.
Absent objection, the Court reviews for clear error. See United States v.
Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); Thomas v. Arn, 474
U.S. 140, 149 (1985). Clear error is “significantly deferential” and exists if the
Court is left with a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations
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The Court finds no clear error here and agrees that Maxfield fails to allege
an actual injury as is required to state a cognizable access-to-the-courts claim. In
Count IV of the Complaint, Maxfield asserts that between August 8, 2019 and
January 8, 2020, Defendants prevented him from conducting meaningful legal
research in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 2 at 4, 18.)
During that time, Maxfield says, he “had deadlines in which to file an answer [in] a
civil case that required a proper response with case law.” (Id. at 7.) Maxfield
claims that, by “denying him proper access to the courts, [Defendants] . . . caused
[him] severe and completely unnecessary physical, emotional and mental pain and
However, as Judge DeSoto points out, this is not enough. “[T]he inmate
must go one step further and demonstrate that the alleged shortcomings in the
library [and access to legal materials] . . . hindered his efforts to pursue a legal
claim.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Thus, the “[f]ailure to show
that a ‘nonfrivolous legal claim has been frustrated’ is fatal” to an inmate’s claim
that his constitutional right to access the courts has been violated. Alvarez v. Hill,
518 F.3d 1152, 1155 n.1 (9th Cir. 2008). While Maxfield alleges that Defendants
caused him emotional and mental injuries by denying him access to legal research
tools, he wholly fails to allege that the purported constitutional violation frustrated
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his ongoing civil action in South Dakota. (See Doc. 7 at 6.) Although the Court
does not minimize the distress Maxfield felt when Defendants allegedly thwarted
his efforts to conduct research, it agrees with Judge DeSoto that his distress—
standing alone—fails to establish a constitutional injury.
Accordingly, reviewing for clear error and finding none, IT IS ORDERED
that Judge DeSoto’s Findings and Recommendation (Doc. 7) is ADOPTED IN
FULL, and Count IV of the Complaint (Doc. 2 at 18) is DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim.
DATED this 20th day of November, 2020.
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