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Beamon v. Arizona Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 29, 2014

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


STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, District Judge.

On December 17, 2013, Plaintiff William Beamon, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In an April 17, 2014 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 May 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8). The Court will dismiss the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend.

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 )).

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 First Amended 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.

II. First Amended Complaint

In his three-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan; Deputy Warden Smith-Whitson; Trinity Staff Member Matthews; and CO II Fernandez. Plaintiff seeks damages.

In Count One, Plaintiff asserts a threat to safety claim and alleges the following facts: On December 1, 2013, Defendant Matthews gave Plaintiff a direct order to place "the dead man tray away." Matthews then unlocked the freezer and allowed Plaintiff to enter. Matthews shut the freezer door while Plaintiff was inside and Plaintiff started to panic. Plaintiff hit the emergency release, but "due to the padlock [Plaintiff] was not able to release" himself and so he hit the panic button again until Matthews released him from the freezer. Plaintiff was in the freezer, which was - 10 degrees, for a minute and a half. Plaintiff asserts that the "padlock was placed on purpose to ensure [he] could not come out" and that "this malicious act was suppose[d] to be [] a joke." Defendant Fernandez told Matthews that his actions were inappropriate and against policy, but Fernandez failed to report the incident until 9:30 a.m. on December 2, 2013. On December 6, 2013, a psychologist diagnosed Plaintiff with PTSD "due to this incident" and placed Plaintiff on "Pragosin" (sic). According to Plaintiff, "he admits to locking me in the freezer" in report #13-A03-5259.

In Count Two, Plaintiff asserts a violation of his First Amendment associational rights and alleges the following facts: Defendant Fernandez "compelled" Plaintiff to associate with Defendant Matthews "by not reporting the incident." When Sergeant Ddejsi heard that Defendant Matthews had locked Plaintiff in a freezer "he was relieved of his duties." Plaintiff had to work with Defendant Matthews "until the correct action of reporting was done by CO II Fernandez." Defendant Smith-Whitson "compelled" Plaintiff to associate with Defendant Fernandez "by not respon[d]ing to the grievance process in the allotted time frame[.]" Smith-Whitson also failed to act on the concerns in Plaintiff's grievance "in which CO II Fernandez pulled [Plaintiff] to the side to advise [Plaintiff] that he lied on report (13-A03-5529) to protect staff member Mathew[s]." Plaintiff voiced his concerns about "being uncomfortable in CO II Fernandez[s] presence, " but Fernandez continued to work Plaintiff's cluster during graveyard hours, which resulted in lost sleep and "high anxiety" for Plaintiff.

In Count Three, Plaintiff asserts a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and alleges the following facts: Defendant Ryan "and his subordinates fail to reply and uphold their policy in this matter." Apparently, Defendants have exceeded 15 working days to respond, presumably to grievances, or do not respond at all to complaints. Someone, possibly Plaintiff, submitted an inmate grievance on January 3 or 8, 2014, and did not receive a response until February 12, 2014. Plaintiff ...

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