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Tyson Dwayne Gaffney v. Charles L. Ryan

April 8, 2011

TYSON DWAYNE GAFFNEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES L. RYAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



WO

ORDER

Plaintiff Tyson Dwayne Gaffney, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex, Special Management Unit I, in Florence, Arizona, has filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and two Applications to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 1, 5, 7.) The Court will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend and deny the second in forma pauperis application as moot.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Filing Fee

Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Plaintiff must pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $32.41. The remainder of the fee will be collected monthly in payments of 20% of the previous month's income each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The Court will enter a separate Order requiring the appropriate government agency to collect and forward the fees according to the statutory formula.

II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) (emphasis added). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-9 unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

"Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 1951.

But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "continue to construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A "complaint [filed by a pro se prisoner] 'must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam)).

If the Court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). The Court should not, however, advise the litigant how to cure the defects. This type of advice "would undermine district judges' role as impartial decisionmakers." Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); see also Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131 n.13 (declining to decide whether the court was required to inform a litigant of deficiencies). Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim with leave to amend because the Complaint may possibly be saved by amendment.

III. Complaint

Plaintiff alleges four counts for threats to safety, invasion of privacy, and violation of his free speech rights. Plaintiff sues the following employees of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC): Director Charles L. Ryan; Warden McWilliams; Corrections Officer (CO) III Pittario; and CO IV Espinoza. Plaintiff seeks injunctive, compensatory, and punitive relief.

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Complaint: Plaintiff is African-American. On January 4, 2010, Plaintiff was housed in the Central Unit. Plaintiff submitted an inmate letter to Defendant Pittario using the system implemented by Ryan. Plaintiff believed the letter would be treated as confidential under that system. In the inmate letter, Plaintiff reported that he wished to speak to Phoenix Homicide detectives concerning murder investigations and associates. Rather than keeping Plaintiff's inmate letter confidential, Pittario shared Plaintiff's inmate letter "with a building full of maximum security inmates" resulting in Plaintiff being identified as a snitch ...


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