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Beamon v. Arizona Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 17, 2014

William Beamon, Plaintiff,
v.
Arizona Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff William Beamon, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence, 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 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. Id. The statutory filing fee will be collected monthly in payments of 20% of the previous month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account 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). Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, but because it may possibly be amended to state a claim, the Court will dismiss it with leave to amend.

III. Complaint

In his three-count Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants Deputy Warden Smith-Whitson, Trinity Staff Member Matthews, and CO II Fernandez, who all work at the "Florence Prison." Plaintiff seeks damages.

Plaintiff designates Count I as a threat to safety and alleges the following facts: on December 1, 2013, Plaintiff walked into the freezer, where the temperature was - 10 degrees, and Defendant Matthews locked Plaintiff in "on purpose" by putting a padlock on the door. Plaintiff was not able to get out and hit the emergency release. Plaintiff then hit the panic button until he was released from the freezer. Defendant Fernandez witnessed "this malicious act" but did not report it until December 2, 2013 and so Plaintiff did not receive medical attention. On December 6, 2013, a psychologist diagnosed Plaintiff with post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD").

In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that his First Amendment rights were violated on December 2, 2013 when he "was forced to work with [Defendant] Matthews after this malicious act" because Defendant Fernandez did not report the incident until the end of the working day on December 2, 2013. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Matthews ordered him to put a tray in the freezer and that Matthews locked the freezer door once Plaintiff was inside. Plaintiff alleges that he "was compelled to associate with and work for Matthews against [Plaintiff's] will after he showed and did a malicious intent to lock [Plaintiff] in a freezer."

In Count III, Plaintiff alleges that his Fifth, Eighth and Thirteenth Amendment rights were violated when he "was locked into the facility kitchen freezer which constitutes both slavery and cruel and extremely unusual punishment because it was done to me with a wanton and express intent to inflict unconstitutional punishment." Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Smith-Whitson failed to protect him and his life was put in danger when he was locked in the freezer. Defendant Fernandez allowed another staff member "to act in a manner without reporting it that justifies cruel and unusual punishment." In addition, ADOC failed to charge Defendant Matthews with kidnapping and unlawful ...


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