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Rodrigues v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 17, 2014

Anthony L. Rodrigues, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony L. Rodrigues, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman in Kingman, Arizona, 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 ). 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 alleges seven counts against Defendants Charles L. Ryan, Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections ("ADOC"); R. Scott Marquardt, President and CEO of Management Training Corporation ("MTC"); Tara R. Diaz, Director of Contract Beds Bureau-Arizona Department of Corrections; and P. Rider, Warden of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman.

In Count One, Plaintiff asserts a claim against Defendant Ryan in his individual and official capacity for a violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Plaintiff alleges that Ryan was aware that MTC and ADOC personnel had adopted a written policy imposing disciplinary sanctions "not otherwise inclusive of ADOC earned incentive program (EIP) phase level privileges subject to non-discretionary loss or forfeiture for alleged [ADOC policy] violation[s]." While not entirely clear, Plaintiff appears to assert that the alleged policy took away certain of his "state created liberties" -including participation in federally subsidized education programs and earned release credits - without notice or an opportunity to be heard. Plaintiff alleges that Ryan showed deliberate indifference to significant hardships that Plaintiff endured as a result of this policy, including loss of educational opportunities and reassignment to housing that exposed Plaintiff to conditions that aggravated his pre-existing chronic medical condition. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered "emotional trauma, mental anguish, medical complications involving hospitalization, loss of physical and emotional wellness and the enjoyment of quality life/free of discrimination."

In Count Two, Plaintiff asserts a second claim against Defendant Ryan in his individual and official capacity for violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the ADA. Plaintiff alleges that Ryan knew that Plaintiff suffered from a chronic medical condition that qualified as a disability under the ADA yet denied Plaintiff's request for alternative housing and reasonable accommodation, thus exposing Plaintiff to elevated levels of stress, airborne contaminants, overcrowding, extreme fluctuations in temperature, and second-hand smoke. Plaintiff further alleges that Ryan's failure to enforce ADOC policies and compliance with the ADA deprived Plaintiff of participation in federally subsidized education programs. Plaintiff appears to allege that he suffered these losses as a disciplinary response to conduct he claims was the result of medications he used to treat his disability. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered a variety of physical and emotional injuries, including medical complications that required hospitalization.

In Count Three, Plaintiff asserts a claim against Defendant R. Scott Marquardt in his individual and official capacity for violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the ADA. Plaintiff alleges nearly identical facts in Count Three against Marquardt to those alleged in Count One against Ryan, namely that Marquardt was aware that MTC personnel had adopted a written policy imposing "non-discretionary disciplinary sanctions" that deprived Plaintiff of certain alleged "liberty interests" in educational programs, leave credits, and assigned housing, the last of which resulted in his exposure to preventable environmental stresses and contaminants - all without notice or a hearing. Plaintiff alleges that Marquardt failed to monitor, supervise, or ensure the proper training of MTC staff to prevent these losses. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered emotional trauma and mental and physical complications, including hospitalization.

In Counts Four and Five, Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendant Tara Diaz in her individual and official capacity for violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the ADA. Plaintiff makes nearly identical allegations against Diaz to those made in Counts One and Two against Ryan. In Count Four, Plaintiff alleges that Diaz was aware that MTC staff had a written policy leading to the loss of Plaintiff's "liberty interests" in educational programs, leave credits, and housing without notice or a hearing, but she failed "to take corrective action and monitor, supervise[, ] and ensure the proper training" of these individuals. In Count Five, Plaintiff alleges that Diaz knew or should have known that Plaintiff suffered from a chronic medical condition recognized by the ADA, yet ...


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