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Eldridge v. Ryan

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

August 15, 2013

Joseph Eldridge, Plaintiff,
v.
Director Charles Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On April 30, 2013, Plaintiff Joseph Eldridge, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman in Florence, Arizona, 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). On May 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a "Motion to Release All: Document - Transcript - Medical Records & Mental Records" (Doc. 7). On July 3, 2013, he filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 8) and a Motion for Protective Custody (Doc. 9). On July 11, 2013, he filed an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Court Fees and/or Costs (Doc. 10) and an unsigned, incomplete Affidavit in Support.

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Application for Deferral, 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.

Because the Court has granted the Application to Proceed, the Court will deny as moot Plaintiff's Application for Deferral.

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 this three-count Complaint, Plaintiff sues the following Defendants: Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) Director Charles Ryan, Bureau Administrator Stacey Crabtree, and Corrections Officer II Williams.

In Count One, Plaintiff asserts that he was subjected to a threat to his safety by Defendant Ryan, in violation of Plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff alleges that despite Defendant Ryan giving Plaintiff "his word [that] nothing would happen to [Plaintiff], " Defendant Ryan has done nothing to make Plaintiff safe and Plaintiff has been sexually assaulted by an inmate with whom he shared a cell and has had hot liquids thrown on him on three occasions. Plaintiff claims he was denied placement in protective custody or in a sex-offender yard after he told Defendant Ryan about the sexual assault and that he has been subjected to a threat to his safety because Defendant Ryan placed Plaintiff in the general population even though Plaintiff is bisexual and a mental health inmate. Plaintiff also asserts that due to severely low staffing and overworked staff, his pod is unsupervised for hours at a time, the staff is "left out of a[]lot of the things going on within the unit, " and the inmates in the pod are "heightened" because they are subjected to extreme overcrowding and a lack of exercise. Plaintiff claims he would not have been assaulted with hot liquids if Defendant Ryan had placed him in protective custody.

In Count Two, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to a threat to his safety by Defendant Crabtree, in violation of his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff claims he was sexually assaulted and an incident report was filed. He contends that Defendant Crabtree was informed about a threat to Plaintiff's safety because an "805 packet"[1] was filed. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Crabtree denied Plaintiff protective custody placement and directed prison officials to return Plaintiff to the general population, despite knowing that Plaintiff was in danger because he is bisexual and has been labeled a "snitch." Plaintiff contends that had he been given protective custody placement, he would not have been assaulted with hot liquid.

In Count Three, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to retaliation and a threat to his safety by Defendant Williams, in violation of Plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff claims that an inmate attempted to throw a hot liquid on Plaintiff when Plaintiff was going from his pod to the medical department. Plaintiff claims Defendant Williams saw the inmate attempt to throw the hot liquid, but did nothing about it. Plaintiff asserts that he told Defendant Williams that the inmate was going to throw the hot liquid on Plaintiff when he returned to his cell, but Defendant Williams did nothing to stop the inmate. Plaintiff claims the same inmate threw a hot liquid on Plaintiff when Defendant Williams was taking Plaintiff back to his cell. Plaintiff states that Defendant Williams is known to retaliate against inmates who call him names or make comments about his family, and Plaintiff believes Defendant Williams is "doing the same thing to [Plaintiff] by letting inmates throw [hot liquids] on [Plaintiff]."

In his Request for Relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and ...


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