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Thomas v. Wilmot

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 2, 2013

Christian Ronnell Thomas, Plaintiff,
v.
Sheriff Wilmot, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

ROBERT C. BROOMFIELD, Senior District Judge.

On April 15, 2013, Plaintiff Christian Ronnell Thomas, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison-Florence West, in Florence, Arizona, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an incomplete Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In an Order dated May 29, 2013, the Court noted the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and granted Plaintiff 30 days to either pay the filing fee or file a complete Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.

On June 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed a new Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 5). The Court will grant the Application and dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

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 not assess an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The statutory 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 )).

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). The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim, but because the Complaint may possibly be saved by amendment, the Court will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

III. Complaint

Plaintiff asserts two counts for violating his rights to basic necessities and for constitutionally adequate medical care. Plaintiff names as Defendants Yuma County Sheriff Wilmot, Extradition Transport of America, and employees of Extradition Transport of America Jane Doe Driver One and John Doe Driver Two. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Plaintiff alleges the following in his Complaint: In 2005, Plaintiff injured his left Achilles tendon, which "disabled" him. (Doc. 1 at 3.) Around June 28, 2012, Plaintiff was extradited from Hampton City Jail and "driven around the country for more than 96 hours" in metal shackles and belly chains. ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff asserts that he is to be transported in hard plastic or leather-padded shackles and that his repeated complaints were ignored. Because Plaintiff was kept in the metal shackles for 96 hours without them being removed at any time, he suffered injuries to his wrist, "major pain a[nd] inflammation to [his] ankles and feet to the point [he] could hardly walk" and had blood in his stool. ( Id. at 3.) Also, during the 96-hour transport, Plaintiff was only allowed to use the restroom twice a day, and once had to urinate in a bottle to relieve himself. He further asserts that he was not "given any opportunity to do any hygienic ...


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