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Krzyzewski v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 10, 2014

Steve J. Krzyzewski, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Joe Arpaio, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On January 6, 2014, Plaintiff Steve Krzyzewski, Jr., who was formerly confined in the Maricopa County Towers Jail, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In an Order dated January 23, 2014, the Court denied the Application to Proceed because it was incomplete and granted Plaintiff 30 days to either file a complete Application to Proceed or pay the filing fees. On March 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Change of Address indicating he is no longer in custody. On March 18, 2014, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause directing Plaintiff to either pay the filing fee or show good cause why he cannot pay. On March 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a "Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Supporting Information" (Doc. 9).

The Court will grant the Motion to Proceed and will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

In his Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Plaintiff states that he is not employed, has no cash or money in checking or savings accounts, and has no other valuable property such as real estate, stocks, bonds, notes or automobiles. Plaintiff's Motion complies with the Order to Show Cause. The Court will, therefore, grant the Motion and will consider the claims in Plaintiff's Complaint.

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 ). 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

Plaintiff names Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio as the only Defendant in his Complaint. He seeks damages pursuant to Graves v. Arpaio and an order that Arpaio "comply with the 1983 settlement and serve inmates 3 meals a day, increase sanitary supplies, [and] post capacity limits in holding cells."

Plaintiff asserts a threat to safety claim in Count One and alleges the following facts: Plaintiff experienced "shoulder to shoulder contact" in the Fourth Avenue court complex holding cell, the Towers Jail property holding cell, and the medical holding cell. Inmates had to sit on the floor and were required to stand for long periods of time which "leads to hostile environment due to insufficient seating." This condition was "per policy set forth by MCSO Sheriff Joe Arpaio et-al." Plaintiff suffered "mental anguish and stress" and a "threat to personal safety and health."

In Count Two, Plaintiff asserts he was denied basic necessities and alleges the following facts. Per Defendant Arpaio's policy, toilets in the holding cells are not sanitized on a regular basis, the faucet valves are inoperative, and mold grows on the walls and around the "toilet/sink combo." Cells are not cleaned or sanitized prior to the arrival of inmates and there was a lack of cleaning supplies. One rag was provided to clean and sanitize all the surfaces in the cells and there were no trash bags during lock down. As a result, Plaintiff suffered the threat of staph infections and his health was at risk, causing undo stress.

IV. Failure to State a Claim

To prevail in a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must show that (1) acts by the defendants (2) under color of state law (3) deprived him of federal rights, privileges or immunities and (4) caused him damage. Thornton v. City of St. Helens, 425 F.3d 1158, 1163-64 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. Idaho Fish & Game Comm'n, 42 F.3d 1278, 1284 (9th Cir. 1994)). In addition, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of the conduct of a particular defendant and he must allege an affirmative link between the injury and the conduct of that defendant. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).

A. Graves v. Arpaio

Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to judgment entered in Graves v. Arpaio, CV 77-00479-PHX-NVW, formerly Hart v. Hill (D. Ariz.). However, Plaintiff may not enforce the decrees entered in Graves in a separate civil rights action. See Cagle v. Sutherland, 334 F.3d 980, 986 (11th Cir. 2003); Klein v. Zavaras, 80 F.3d 432, 435 (10th Cir. 1996); DeGidio v. Pung , 920 F.2d 525, 534 (8th Cir.1990); Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1122-23 (5th Cir. 1986). Moreover, standing alone, remedial orders, such as those entered in Graves, cannot serve as a substantive basis for a § 1983 claim for damages because such orders do not create "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws." Green, 788 F.3d at 1123-24. Rather, remedial decrees are the means by which unconstitutional conditions are corrected. Id. at 1123. For these reasons, Plaintiff may not properly seek § 1983 relief to enforce Graves in this action and he fails to state a claim to the extent that he seeks relief pursuant to Graves.

B. Arpaio

Plaintiff sues Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio. While Arpaio may be sued for constitutional violations, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against him. "A plaintiff must allege facts, not simply conclusions, that show that an individual was personally involved in the deprivation of his civil rights." Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). For an individual to be liable in his official capacity, a plaintiff must allege that the official acted as a result of a policy, practice, or custom. See Cortez v. County of Los Angeles, 294 F.3d 1186, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). Further, there is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983, so a defendant's position as the supervisor of someone who allegedly violated a plaintiff's constitutional rights does not make him liable. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). A supervisor in his individual capacity "is only liable for constitutional violations of his subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them." Taylor, 880 F.2d at 1045.

In this case, Plaintiff does not allege that Arpaio directly violated his constitutional rights. Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege facts to support that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated as a result of a specific policy or custom promulgated or endorsed by Arpaio. Rather, Plaintiff makes the vague allegation that the conditions alleged in his Complaint are "per policy set forth by Sheriff Joe Arpaio." Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), conclusory and vague allegations will not support a cause of action, Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Further, a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Defendant Arpaio and he will be dismissed.

C. Failure to Allege a Constitutional Violation

Section 1983 provides a cause of action against persons acting under color of state law who have violated rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Buckley v. City of Redding, 66 F.3d 188, 190 (9th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff has failed to allege any constitutional or federal-law violations.

A pretrial detainee's claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement arises from the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause rather than from the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 and n.16 (1979). Nevertheless, the same standards are applied, requiring proof that the defendant acted with deliberate indifference. See Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998).

Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994). To state a claim of deliberate indifference, plaintiffs must meet a two-part test. "First, the alleged constitutional deprivation must be, objectively, sufficiently serious"; and the "official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. at 834 (internal quotations omitted). Second, the prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable state of mind, " i.e., he must act with "deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety." Id. (internal quotations omitted). In defining "deliberate indifference" in this context, the Supreme Court has imposed a subjective test: "the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837 (emphasis added).

Even if Plaintiff had named proper Defendants, the Court would be unable to construe his claims as raised pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment because he has failed to allege facts showing that a specific, individually named Defendant was aware of a serious risk of harm to Plaintiff and failed to act. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim in either of his grounds for relief.

V. Leave to Amend

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Within 30 days, Plaintiff may submit a first amended complaint to cure the deficiencies outlined above. The Clerk of Court will mail Plaintiff a court-approved form to use for filing a first amended complaint. If Plaintiff fails to use the court-approved form, the Court may strike the amended complaint and dismiss this action without further notice to Plaintiff.

If Plaintiff files an amended complaint, Plaintiff must write short, plain statements telling the Court: (1) the constitutional right Plaintiff believes was violated; (2) the name of the Defendant who violated the right; (3) exactly what that Defendant did or failed to do; (4) how the action or inaction of that Defendant is connected to the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional right; and (5) what specific injury Plaintiff suffered because of that Defendant's conduct. See Rizzo, 423 U.S. at 371-72, 377.

Plaintiff must repeat this process for each person he names as a Defendant. If Plaintiff fails to affirmatively link the conduct of each named Defendant with the specific injury suffered by Plaintiff, the allegations against that Defendant will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Conclusory allegations that a Defendant or group of Defendants has violated a constitutional right are not acceptable and will be dismissed.

Plaintiff must clearly designate on the face of the document that it is the "First Amended Complaint." The first amended complaint must be retyped or rewritten in its entirety on the court-approved form and may not incorporate any part of the original Complaint by reference. Plaintiff may include only one claim per count.

A first amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992); Hal Roach Studios v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1546 (9th Cir. 1990). After amendment, the Court will treat an original complaint as nonexistent. Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262. Any cause of action that was raised in the original complaint and that was voluntarily dismissed or was dismissed without prejudice is waived if it is not alleged in a first amended complaint. Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc).

VI. Warnings

A. Address Changes

Plaintiff must file and serve a notice of a change of address in accordance with Rule 83.3(d) of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff must not include a motion for other relief with a notice of change of address. Failure to comply may result in dismissal of this action.

B. Copies

Plaintiff must submit an additional copy of every filing for use by the Court. See LRCiv 5.4. Failure to comply may result in the filing being stricken without further notice to Plaintiff.

C. Possible "Strike"

Because the Complaint has been dismissed for failure to state a claim, if Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies identified in this Order, the dismissal may count as a "strike" under the "3-strikes" provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Under the 3-strikes provision, a prisoner may not bring a civil action or appeal a civil judgment in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 "if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

D. Possible Dismissal

If Plaintiff fails to timely comply with every provision of this Order, including these warnings, the Court may dismiss this action without further notice. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260-61 (a district court may dismiss an action for failure to comply with any order of the Court).

IT IS ORDERED:

(1) Plaintiff's "Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Supporting Information" (Doc. 9) is granted. Plaintiff may continue this lawsuit in forma pauperis and without paying the filing fee.

(2) The Complaint (Doc. 1) is dismissed for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff has 30 days from the date this Order is filed to file a first amended complaint in compliance with this Order.

(3) If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within 30 days, the Clerk of Court must, without further notice, enter a judgment of dismissal of this action with prejudice that states that the dismissal may count as a "strike" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

(4) The Clerk of Court must mail Plaintiff a court-approved form for filing a civil rights complaint by a prisoner.


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