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Richard Blaisdell, #A0200813 v. Hawaii Dep't of Public Safety

November 20, 2012


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

) ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND ) ACTION PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. ) §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b)(1)

Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Richard Blaisdell's prisoner civil rights complaint. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility ("HCF"), and names the Hawaii Department of Public Safety ("DPS") as the only defendant to this action. Plaintiff alleges that DPS violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment by conspiring to deny him interest on funds in his prison trust account. The Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b)(1). Because amendment is futile, this dismissal is with prejudice.


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). The court must dismiss a complaint in full or in part if its claims are legally frivolous, 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).

A complaint fails to state a claim if it (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory; or (2) contains insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). 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." Iqbal, at 678. "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. Thus, although a plaintiff's 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.

The court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, accept all allegations of material fact as true, and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. 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 a pleading can 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). The court should not, however, advise the litigant how to cure the defects. This type of advice "would undermine district judges' role as impartial decisionmakers." Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); see also Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131 n.13 (declining to decide whether the court was required to inform a litigant of deficiencies).


To understand Plaintiff's prolix Complaint, a brief summary of Plaintiff's state court civil action is necessary.*fn1

A. State Civil Case History and Background

On August 10, 2004, Plaintiff filed a state civil suit challenging DPS's alleged unconstitutional denial of accrued interest in its prisoners' trust accounts. See Blaisdell v. Dep't of Public Safety, Civ. No. 04--1--1455, Haw. App. No. 30469. On November 18, 2008, the Hawaii Supreme Court agreed with Plaintiff, and held that Hawaii's prisoners' rights to accrued interest on their prison trust accounts are protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as by Hawaii Revised Statute ("Haw. Rev. Stat.") § 353-20, as it then stood. See Blaisdell v. Dep't of Public Safety, 196 P.3d 277, 288 (Haw. 2008). The supreme court remanded the case to the circuit court with instructions to enter judgment declaring DPS's "restricted" accounts violative of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 353-20, to order such relief as appropriate, and to order interest paid if a factual determination showed that it was due on Plaintiff's accounts. Id.

On May 22, 2009, the Hawaii circuit court entered an order on granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and ordering DPS to "(1) implement policies and procedures 'which comply with [§] 353-20' and (2) 'pay [Plaintiff] any interest, if any is owing, to the extent due but not yet credited to [Plaintiff's] account." See Blaisdell v. Dep't of Public Safety, 2011 WL 6144274 *1 (Haw., Nov. 28, 2011) (dissent Acoba, J.) (emphasis added).

On May 26, 2009, as a result of the Hawaii Supreme Court's 2008 decision, the Hawaii state legislature enacted Act 75, amending Haw. Rev. Stat. § 353-20 to permit DPS to maintain more than one account for each inmate and to designate that a percentage of funds earned by an inmate may be deposited and held in a nonspendable (i.e., restricted) account to provide funds for the inmate upon release. 2009 Haw. Sess. L. Act 75, § 2 at 172--73. Act 75 also provides that inmate accounts maintained by DPS "shall not bear interest." Id. at 172.*fn2

On June 22, 2009, after Act 75 became effective, DPS filed a Motion to Vacate the circuit court's May 22, 2009 Order, arguing that several of Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief were now moot, and, for the first time asserting that Plaintiff's individual trust accounts had accrued no interest since at least 1998. Id. at *2. The circuit court agreed, and granted DPS's Motion to Vacate. See Blaisdell, 2011 WL 3805765 *2. On August 29, 2011, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ("ICA") affirmed the circuit court's factual determination that DPS had not withheld accrued interest on Plaintiff's accounts and specifically rejected Plaintiff's argument that Act 75 was unconstitutional. Id. at *3 ("Blaisdell fails to cite any authority to support his claims that Act 75 is unconstitutional, that vested rights were violated, or that his property was unconstitutionally taken, and we reject those claims.") On November 28, ...

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