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Maloney v. Ryan

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 6, 2013

Erik Scott Maloney, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

ROBERT C. BROOMFIELD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Erik Scott Maloney, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence in Florence, Arizona, has filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). The Court will order Defendants Ryan and Linderman to answer Counts One, Two, and Three; will order Defendant Mason to answer Count Two; and will dismiss the remaining Defendants without prejudice.

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 $17.14. 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-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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 679. 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 681.

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 )).

III. Complaint

In his three-count Complaint, Plaintiff sues Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan, Administrator of Pastoral Activities Mike Linderman, Complex Warden Lance Hetmer, Former Deputy Warden Stephen Morris, and Chaplain Wayne Mason.

In Count One, Plaintiff alleges a violation of his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion. He contends that Defendants inhibited the exercise of his religion when they created, implemented, or enforced a regulation that inhibited his sincerely held religious beliefs by not accommodating his meal requirements during Ramadan. Plaintiff asserts that pursuant to a policy that permitted Defendant Linderman to make recommendations to Defendant Ryan regarding the religious issues, Defendants knowingly set the time for breakfast for Muslims during Ramadan for a time after the religiously mandated time for fasting had begun. Plaintiff asserts that the policy forced him to either forgo breakfast during Ramadan or violate the tenets of his religion. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Ryan implemented the breakfast policy, Defendant Linderman recommended the policy and directed others to follow it, Defendant Mason participated in and directed the constitutional violations, and Defendants Hetmer and Morris knew of the violations and failed to prevent them.

In Count Two, Plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and denied his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection because Defendants provided him with a nutritionally inadequate diet during Ramadan and knew that the diet was nutritionally inadequate and likely to cause pain and suffering. Plaintiff contends that in prior years during Ramadan, Muslims were provided a portion and a half of breakfast pre-dawn and a portion and a half of dinner, so that they received the same amount of food as general population inmates. Plaintiff asserts that in 2012, Defendants deliberately set the time for breakfast for Muslims during Ramadan at a time when they knew the Muslims would be prohibited from eating and did so with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's health and wellbeing and without a penological justification. Because breakfast was provided after dawn, Plaintiff was prevented from eating breakfast. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that for three days, Defendant Mason instructed kitchen staff to withhold a lunch sack at dinner and did so with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's health and wellbeing and without a penological justification. Plaintiff asserts that as a result, he received only one of three meals on these days. He claims that he suffered abdominal pain, headaches, severe exhaustion, weight loss, and mental and emotional distress.

Plaintiff contends that Defendants are liable because Defendant Ryan implemented the breakfast policy, Defendant Linderman created and directed the implementation of the breakfast policy, Defendant Mason participated in and enforced the breakfast policy and acted with deliberate indifference in denying Plaintiff a lunch sack for three days, and ...


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