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Miel v. Maricopa County Sheriff

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 1, 2014

Terry Miel, Plaintiff,
v.
Maricopa County Sheriff, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff Terry Miel, who is confined in the Federal Correctional Institution Phoenix, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a December 27, 2013 Order, the Court granted the Application to Proceed and dismissed the Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On January 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. In an April 9, 2014 Order, the Court dismissed the First Amended Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file a second amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On April 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 10). The Court will order Defendant Arpaio to answer the insufficient food allegations in Count One of the Second Amended Complaint and will dismiss the remaining claims and Defendants without prejudice.

I. 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 )).

II. Second Amended Complaint

In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio; Maricopa County Jail Captain John Doe; Maricopa County Jail Physician John Doe #2; and Maricopa County Jail Dentist John Doe #3. Plaintiff seeks damages.

Plaintiff asserts three claims for alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement and denial of medical care while he was incarcerated in the "Maricopa County Jail"[1] from September 25, 2013 to January 24, 2014.

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in support of Count One: During the time he was incarcerated in the Maricopa County Jail, Plaintiff did not receive enough food, causing him to lose over 70 pounds. Plaintiff suffered severe weight loss which caused him a great deal of physical pain and health complications that he is currently addressing at a medical facility. Plaintiff was told that "the amount of food and its type is [] under the policies, procedures and control of Defendant Arpaio."

Plaintiff also alleges in Count One that he was forced to live with two other inmates "without any hygiene items, no showers for long periods of time, " and on lock down "for months at a time with no meaningful exercise." Plaintiff was told that "the rules, policies and procedures for putting 3 men in a 2 man cell (overcrowding) has also been approved under the command of Defendant Arpaio and the Captain of the jail, Defendant John Doe, " and that both Arpaio and John Doe made the decisions regarding lock downs, showers, and hygiene. Plaintiff states that he suffered "emotional trauma" for which he takes medication and he is being treated by a psychologist.

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in Count Two: Defendants Arpaio and Captain John Doe #1 "set up the policies and procedures and control the food and medical care given at the Maricopa County Jail." Plaintiff was not given enough food as a pre-trial detainee between September 25, 2013 and January 24, 2014, causing him to lose over 70 pounds and resulting in "severe physical injury." Plaintiff requested help "from the medical staff, " but Defendant John Doe #2 "denied help." Plaintiff notified Defendants Arpaio and John Doe but "still did not receive medical help for these issues."

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in Count Three: On or about November 15, 2013, Plaintiff bit into a piece of food that contained a foreign object that broke his lower denture. Plaintiff notified Defendant John Doe #3, and "after not being treated for [his] issues, " he notified Defendants Arpaio, John Doe, and John Doe #2, but "was not given treatment for this dental issue." None of the Defendants "responded to Plaintiff's requests for help, nor looked into the matter." Eating without a lower denture "was so painful that most [of] the time [Plaintiff] couldn't b[ear] to eat what little ...


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