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Martin v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 25, 2014

Lewis A. Martin, Plaintiff,
Joseph M. Arpaio, et al., Defendants.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On December 27, 2013, Plaintiff Lewis A. Martin, 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 a February 18, 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 March 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint. In a May 8, 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 May 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed an unsigned Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 10). In an August 4, 2014 Order, the Court required Plaintiff to complete and sign a Certificate provided by the Court certifying that Plaintiff's signature on the Certificate shall serve as an original signature on his Second Amended Complaint. On August 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed the signed Certificate. On November 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed a notice of change of address and asked the Court to provide him with the status of his case ("Motion for Status") (Doc. 15).

The Court will grant Plaintiff's motion for status to the extent discussed herein. The Court will grant Plaintiff 90 days from the filing date of this Order in which to file a notice of substitution of the names of John Doe #7 and John Doe #8 in connection with Count I and will dismiss Count II and the remaining 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

Plaintiff sues the following Defendants in his two-count Second Amended Complaint: the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department; Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio; Dr. Alvarez, Director of Correctional Health Services; Correctional Health Services; Correctional Health Services "Medical Staff 1, 2, 3... etc..." at the Fourth Avenue Jail; and "John/Jane Doe 1, 2, 3..., " identified as "Detention and/or Deputy Officers" at the Fourth Avenue Jail. Plaintiff seeks damages, injunctive relief, and discovery.

In Count I, Plaintiff asserts claims of excessive force, unreasonable search and seizure, and violations of his Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He alleges the following facts: Plaintiff was arrested on August 19, 2013 and taken to the Fourth Avenue Jail for processing. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Correctional Health Services have a "well-documented history" of Plaintiff's mental health issues, including "post[-]traumatic stress disorder, paranoid[] delusional behavior[, ] and organic brain damage." "Plaintiff is a documented seriously mentally ill' patient of a state run agency[, ] Mercy Maricopa, ' formally known as Magellan, and rec[ei]ves medical benefits, including p[sy]chotropic, depression, seizure[, ] and anxiety medications." Plaintiff was homeless, off his medication, and "exhibiting obvious mental health deterioration by exhibiting extreme paranoia and delusional behavior." At some point, Plaintiff was diagnosed with nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder while at the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Plaintiff had a health assessment within one hour of arriving at the Fourth Avenue Jail. "Medical Staff Jane Doe #1" performed the health assessment, but did not recognize Plaintiff's "deteriorating status." Plaintiff had to wait to be processed in the "pre fingerprinting tank, " which is approximately twelve feet wide by twenty feet long and contained approximately 25-35 people. This cramped room "further served to exacerbate Plaintiff's already deteriorating mental status."

Several hours later, Plaintiff was approached by "Jane and/or J[oh]n Doe Deputy/Detention Officers as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6." A detention officer told Plaintiff that he was being moved to the "strip cell where he was to remove his cloth[e]s to be searched." Plaintiff was not provoking, aggressive, or threatening to himself or others. Plaintiff was stripped of all clothing and left naked and alone in a padded cell without a blanket, water, or plumbing. "Sometime later, exact time unknown, Plaintiff was approached, while lying on his stomach naked, non[-]aggressive and told to roll over." Plaintiff refused to roll over and "for his refusal was tased in the back by an unknown J[oh]n Doe D.O. (#7?)." Plaintiff requested medical attention for psychiatric and physical trauma to his back, neck, side and legs "before, during and after the above listed circumstance, on or within 24 hours, " which was denied "out of hand."

"Plaintiff remained in the padded' room naked for approxim[a]t[e]ly 2-3 hours longer at which time he was given a pair of pink boxers by J[oh]n/Jane Does (D.O.) #8 and #9 and placed into a transport van, naked except for the boxers and slippers, and transported to another detention unit, Lower Buckeye Jail." There are dividers in the van to separate the detainees; Plaintiff was placed in one division and three females were placed in other divisions in the van. Plaintiff suffered further emotional trauma from this situation.

When Plaintiff had to attend court he was "routinely processed inappropriately and without just cause, to and from court." A pre-court strip search was conducted in private. The post-court strip search was conducted in the "Pink Cage" in front of cameras and "with any # of staff, female and otherwise, as well as visitors who walk the hallways, being witnesses to Plaintiff's demoralization." The strip searches consisted of "surrendering all clothing and legal papers taken to and returned from court." "Plaintiff was required to turn his back to John Doe D.O. #8 and others unnamed and as yet identified... bend forward and with both hands spread his cheeks, exposing his anus, stand up, turn around and lift his genitals, squat and cough, expose armpits and soles of feet and finally run his fingers through his hair." Plaintiff was "then required to dress himself without the benefit of soap, water or sanitary lotion to sanitize his hands."

Plaintiff alleges that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department is liable for his "injur[i]ous harm" by its policy of "stripping of Plaintiff in which excessive and abusive force was utilized, " placing Plaintiff, a mentally ill detainee, in a "stripped, " padded cell "with no provocation, " and by denying Plaintiff medical treatment. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Arpaio is liable, as "executor" of the policies at the Fourth Avenue Jail, by allowing his officers to "treat Plaintiff thus, " by not training staff for handling a mentally unstable detainee, and "for his continuing indifference to the arbitrary treatment levied against Plaintiff." He alleges that "Defendants John Doe/Jane Doe" are liable for his "mental anguish, physical pain to body, exacerbation to pre-existing mental illness through acts of physical abuse with the strip search, [and] tasing with an electrical device[.]" Finally, he alleges that Defendant Alvarez and "CHS John/Jane Doe #1" are liable for their ...

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