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Chris Grindling, #A0721079 v. Frederick Martone

August 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge


Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Chris Grindling's first amended prisoner civil rights complaint ("FAC") brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Maui Community Correctional Center ("MCCC"), and complains of incidents that allegedly occurred there and at the Saguaro Correctional Center ("SCC"), in Eloy, Arizona.

Plaintiff names the Hawaii Department of Public Safety ("DPS") Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata,*fn1 and DPS "contract monitors," Scott Jinbo, Heather Kimura, and Shari Kimoto as Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to ensure that prison officials in Arizona and Hawaii complied with unspecified DPS policies, procedures, and contractual obligations, and/or for allegedly enforcing unconstitutional DPS policies. For the following reasons, the FAC is dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Plaintiff is again given leave to amend, as discussed and limited below.


The court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners that relate to prison conditions and/or seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). A complaint or portion thereof must be dismissed if its claims are legally frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

To state a claim, 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). 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 1950. 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 1951.

Courts must "construe pro se filings liberally," Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), accept all allegations of material fact as true, and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). A pro se prisoner "complaint 'must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Hebbe, 627 F.3d at 342 (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam)). Leave to amend should be granted unless it appears that amendment is futile. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).


To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff broadly alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and seeks compensatory damages, declaratory and injunctive relief. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that SCC grievance coordinator Juan Valenzuela denied him access to the grievance process by failing to respond to informal grievances and denying him grievance forms. FAC, ECF #9 at 6. Plaintiff says that he was transferred to SCC's segregation unit for attempting to file grievances. Plaintiff suggests that Defendants are liable for these actions based on their positions as DPS Director and contract monitors, although he does not allege specific facts showing their involvement.

In Count II, Plaintiff complains that after he was transferred to Arizona from Hawaii, a state court judge issued an order to show cause in his state action seeking a writ of habeas corpus. FAC, ECF #9 at 7. Plaintiff claims that Defendants disregarded this order to "produce the body," and refused to return him to Hawaii, in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes §§ 660-22-23. Plaintiff asserts that under Hawaii law it is a "criminal offense to transfer any person pending issu[a]nce of writ of habeas corpus." Id. at 8. Plaintiff also alleges that, when he was transferred back to Hawaii to participate in his federal civil rights suit in August 2011, SCC officials destroyed his personal property. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff reiterates that he was denied the right to file grievances in Arizona, alleging this was "per orders of the Named Defendant." Id. at 8.

In Count III, Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment by enforcing a DPS policy regarding treatment for inmates with Hepatitis C. FAC, ECF #9 at 9. Plaintiff says Defendants are aware that he has Hepatitis C and "due to policy deny treatment for monetary reason[.] A medical doctor should determine who does and doesn[']t receive treatment not prison official policy." Id. Plaintiff claims that this policy places him in imminent danger and he broadly alleges that, "Denied treatment for a known illness causes death." Id.

In Count IV, Plaintiff reiterates that he was placed in SCC's segregation unit for "accessing the grievance process." FAC, ECF #9 at 10. He alleges that the conditions in SCC's segregation violated the Eighth Amendment, pursuant to "Defendants' policies and enforcement." FAC, ECF #9 at 10-12.

B. No Link Between Defendants and Allegations

Section 1983 plainly requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivations alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658(1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). The Ninth Circuit has held that "[a] person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

Plaintiff provides no facts linking Defendants to his claims, other than his conclusion that they, as "contract monitors" or supervisors are responsible for the actions of SCC and MCCC employees. Plaintiff provides nothing showing that Maesaka-Hirata, Kimura, Kimoto, or Jinbo affirmatively acted, participated in another's affirmative acts, or failed to perform an act which he or she was legally required to do that caused the constitutional deprivations Plaintiff alleges. Plaintiff simply claims that he was: (1) denied the ability to file grievances at SCC, (2) placed in segregation at SCC, (3) unlawfully transferred from Hawaii to SCC, (4) denied medical care for Hepatitis C at SCC and MCCC, and (5) deprived of his personal property at SCC. Plaintiff makes no effort to explain who was personally responsible for each of these acts or how Defendants are specifically connected to these acts.

Plaintiff is required to demonstrate that each Defendant was personally involved in the alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff's entire case against Defendants is premised on his conclusory belief that they had authority as a special review team over SCC and MCCC prison officials and employees. This is insufficient to state a claim against them.

Moreover, Plaintiff's allegations do not show that any Defendant was even aware of Plaintiff's alleged mistreatments. Plaintiff also fails to state a claim against Defendants insofar as he alleges that they failed to intervene on his behalf after the fact during some review of DPS policy enforcement, or failed to prevent or remedy the allegedly unconstitutional behavior ...

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