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Wani v. Arizona Department of Health Services

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 3, 2014

Raphael Nyagong Wani, Plaintiff,
Arizona Department of Health Services, Defendant.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff Raphael Nyagong Wani, who is confined in the Arizona State Hospital, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On January 16, 2014, Plaintiff paid the filing and administrative fees. In a June 4, 2014 Order, the Court dismissed the Complaint for failure to file on the court-approved form. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On June 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10). On June 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed a "Notice of Service" (Doc. 12) stating that he had served Defendant with the First Amended Complaint.

On August 19, 2014, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Michael G. Gaughan filed a limited Notice of Appearance for Defendant and a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15). On September 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. 24) to the Motion to Dismiss. On September 18, 2014, Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 25).

Also pending before the Court are Plaintiff's August 21, 2014 Motion for Hearing (Doc. 16), September 3, 2014 Motion for Oral Argument (Doc. 18), and September 3, 2014 Motion for Leave to Appear in Person (Doc. 19).

The Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss and deny as moot the remaining pending Motions.

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] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). (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. First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff names Arizona Department of Health Services as Defendant in his three-count First Amended Complaint. In Count One, Plaintiff alleges Arizona State Hospital employees "beat [him] up to the point where [his] finger got broken." Plaintiff claims that on November 23, 2010, two employees held him down, broke his little finger, and punched and kicked him on both sides of his stomach. Plaintiff claims he suffered kidney failure and urinated blood for over one month. In Count Two, Plaintiff makes the same allegations as Count One but also claims that "they" injected him against his will with two strong "psychiatric injections." In Count Three, Plaintiff claims that after the above incident, the physician assistant in his unit ordered him to give a urine sample and then ordered Plaintiff taken to the emergency room. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and release from custody.

III. Motion to Dismiss, Response, and Reply

In its Motion to Dismiss, Defendant alleges that it was not properly served, that as a state agency it may not be sued in its own name (it is a non-jural entity), and that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims accrued on November 11, 2010, [1] the date he suffered the injury at issue in this case, and that for Plaintiff's lawsuit to be timely, he was required to file the Complaint on or ...

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