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Hall v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 27, 2015

Christopher M. Hall, Plaintiff,
Joseph M. Arpaio, et al., Defendants.


Honorable Diane J. Humetewa United States District Judge

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint and Plaintiff’s Response to the Court’s June 26, 2015 Order to Show Cause. (Docs. 32, 33.) Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in this action on December 9, 2013. (Doc. 1.) On April 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint, asserting a medical care claim against Sheriff Joseph Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. (Doc. 8.) On August 22, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff in forma pauperis status, dismissed the First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim, and allowed Plaintiff 30 days to file a second amended complaint. (Doc. 14.) On September 12, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, asserting a medical care claim against Defendant Arpaio. (Doc. 16.) On May 11, 2015, the Court screened the Second Amended Complaint, ordered Defendant Arpaio to answer Count One, and directed Plaintiff to return a completed service packet for Defendant Arpaio within 21 days. (Doc. 27.) . . . . . . . .

The deadline for returning the completed service packet expired on June 1, 2015. The Court did not receive a service packet from Plaintiff by the deadline. Accordingly, on June 26, 2015, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause, requiring Plaintiff, within 14 days, to either return to the Clerk of Court a completed service packet for Defendant Arpaio or show cause why this matter should not be dismissed for failure to comply with the Court’s Order, pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 29.)

On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint and a Response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause. (Docs. 32, 33.) In his Response, Plaintiff asserts that he completed and returned a service packet for Defendant Arpaio on June 9, 2015. Plaintiff requests the Court “accept the new amended complaint and proceed accordingly, or [] send a blank service package to be completed by Plaintiff for service upon Defendant.” (Doc. 33 at 2.) Plaintiff claims that his Third Amended Complaint “encompass[es] the original complaint, and the second amended complaint.” (Id.) In Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint, he names Sheriff Arpaio as the Defendant, reasserts his Eighth Amendment medical care claim in Count One, and asserts two additional unconstitutional conditions of confinement claims-one claim regarding overcrowding and one claim for failure to provide a way in which to clean the toilets inside inmate cells. (Doc. 32 at 4-5.)

The Court construes Plaintiff’s “Response to Court Order” as a Motion for leave to file his Third Amended Complaint. As detailed below, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s Motion and, after screening the Third Amended Complaint, will dismiss Counts Two and Three and order Defendant Arpaio to answer Count One.

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)).

a. Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint

In his three-count Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues Defendant Arpaio and asserts one claim for the denial of constitutionally adequate medical care, and two claims for unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

In Count One, Plaintiff re-alleges the facts he set forth in Count One of his Second Amended Complaint. (See Docs. 16, 32.) In Count Two, Plaintiff asserts that “[o]n several occasions (10 or more) inmates were forced into grossly overcrowded holding cells for up to 4 and 5 hours without even enough room” to sit. (Doc. 32 at 4.) Plaintiff also asserts that “[w]hen grievance procedures were filed, answers were unsatisfactory and [the] issue was not resolved.” (Id.) Further, Plaintiff claims that “they admitted to overcrowding, yet stated it was for minimal time and unavoidable.” (Id.) However, Plaintiff contends, even after the cells were remodeled to accommodate more inmates, they were overcrowded. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiff asserts that the overcrowding has caused him to suffer joint damage in light of his rheumatoid arthritis. (Id.)

In Count Three, Plaintiff asserts that “[t]he jail refuses to provide any way for inmates to clean their toilets, which are inside the cell and attached to the clean water supply.” (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff contends that “[r]esponses from grievances were to use a plastic bag, use [a] shower rag, or use the mop to clean [the] toilet.” (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that “[t]his whole situation . . . ...

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