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De La Rosa v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 6, 2015

Rodney Cabrera De La Rosa, Plaintiff,
Joseph M. Arpaio, et al., Defendants.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On April 20, 2015, Plaintiff Rodney Cabrera De La Rosa, who is confined in the Maricopa County Durango Jail, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. In a May 15, 2015 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 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of Default (Doc. 6). On June 8, 2015, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) and a letter.[1] The Court will dismiss the First Amended Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Motion for Default

In his May 13, 2015 Motion for Default, Plaintiff asks that the Court grant Plaintiff relief because Defendants have not responded to his Complaint. Defendants have not been served and the Court has not completed statutory screening. Accordingly, the Court will deny the Motion.

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 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.

III. First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff names the following Defendants in the First Amended Complaint: Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and Detention Officers A4869, A6501, B1492, A5115, B2678, B0967, B2330, B2699, B9180, B3208, B4510, A9663, and A8346. Plaintiff raises three claims for relief.

In Count One, Plaintiff alleges that food is served twice per day, but should be served three times per day. Plaintiff states that Defendants say the two meals are "equal to 2200-2600 calories. If it could... be served in 3 portions to show us how it physically looks like... it won't be nice!!" Plaintiff claims he is hungry and suffers anxiety, depression, stomachaches, and headaches. In Count Two, Plaintiff alleges that housing units are "extremely cold... 69-70 degrees" and inmates have to use blankets while in the day room. In Count Three, Plaintiff claims Defendants B1492, B4510, A9663, and A8346 lied to him when they told him other inmates were not filing grievances regarding the cold temperature in the housing unit. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

IV. Failure to State a Claim

Section 1983 provides a cause of action against persons acting under color of state law who have violated rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Buckley v. City of Redding, 66 F.3d 188, 190 (9th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff has failed to allege any constitutional or federal-law violations. The Court will therefore dismiss without prejudice Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint because it fails to state a claim.

A pretrial detainee's claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement arises from the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause rather than from the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 and n.16 (1979). Nevertheless, the same standards are applied, requiring proof that the defendant acted with deliberate indifference. See Frost v. Agnos, 152 F.3d 1124, 1128 (9th Cir. 1998).

Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994). To state a claim of deliberate indifference, plaintiffs must meet a two-part test. "First, the alleged constitutional deprivation must be, objectively, sufficiently serious"; and the "official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id. at 834 (internal quotations omitted). Second, the prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable state of mind, " i.e., he must act with "deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety." Id. (internal quotations omitted). In defining "deliberate indifference" in this context, the Supreme Court has imposed a subjective test: "the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837 (emphasis added).

Even if the Court construes Plaintiff's claims as raised pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to state a Fourteenth Amendment claim in any of his grounds for relief. In Count One, Plaintiff does not allege specific Defendants are aware of a serious risk of harm to his health as a result of receiving only two meals per day, and that that specific Defendant failed to act.

In Count Two, Plaintiff does not allege facts demonstrating a serious risk of harm to his health. Plaintiff alleges that his housing unit is typically 69 to 70 degrees and that it should be 70 to 73 degrees; a difference this slight does not pose a serious risk of harm to Plaintiff's health and does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.

In Count Three, Plaintiff claims four Defendants falsely told him no other inmates were filing grievances regarding the unit's temperature. Plaintiff does not explain how this violates his constitutional rights.

Plaintiff has therefore failed to state a claim in Counts One, Two, or Three of the ...

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