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Raines v. Hawaii Dep't of Public Safety

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 1, 2016

TODD JAMES RAINES, #A0174414, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Todd James Raines’ prisoner civil rights complaint. Raines is incarcerated at the Saguaro Correctional Center (“SCC”) located in Eloy, Arizona. Raines names the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) in its official capacity, and DPS Mainland Branch Unit Supervisor Scott Jinbo (“Jinbo”), Contract Monitor Jeanette Baltero (“Baltero”), and Does 1-10 in their official and individual capacities (collectively, “Defendants”).

         Raines invokes federal jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1988. He claims Defendants violated his rights to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and Article I, Section Five of the Hawaii Constitution. See Compl., Doc. No. 1. Raines further alleges Defendants violated Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 92F, and state common law. Id.

         Raines’ Complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a cognizable claim for relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b). He is granted leave to amend to correct the Complaint’s deficiencies on or before July 8, 2016.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         In 2010, Raines sued Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), which owns and operates SCC, for religious discrimination. See Raines v. Corr. Corp. of America, No. CV-10-01817 (D. Ariz. 2010). On November 16, 2011, the parties signed a stipulated settlement, and Raines dismissed all claims. Id., Doc. No. 100.

         On September 24, 2014, Raines attended a Rosh Hashanah service at SCC, where he complained to the SCC Chaplain that it was being held on the wrong day.[2] Raines was issued disciplinary report No. DR #970-14, for violations of SCC/CCC policies “C-9 Failure To Follow/C-12 Hindering.” Compl. Doc. No. 1, PageID #8. On September 25, 2014, SCC Assistant Warden Benjamin Griego ordered Raines moved to segregation. On September 30, 2014, Raines was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to sixty days disciplinary segregation.

         On or about October 1, 2014, Raines says Defendants Jinbo and Baltero “arbitrarily, deceitfully, and irrationally converted the [CCA] DR #970-14, ” C-9 and C-12 violations, into DPS misconduct violations of “Rule 4.3a7(12)” and “Rule 4.3a8(11), ” respectively, and entered that information into his DPS institutional file.[3] Id., PageID #9-10. Raines alleges Jinbo and Baltero’s actions violated his state-created liberty interests without due process of law, increased his sentence, and adversely affected his consideration for parole.[4] Id.

         On July 1, 2015, Raines filed a motion to “disaffirm” the settlement agreement in Raines v. Corr. Corp. of America, No. CV-10-01817, Doc. No. 102, which the district court denied, Doc. No. 110.

         On April 25, 2016, Raines commenced this suit. He alleges three causes of action under the Fourteenth Amendment for violation of due process (pursuant to liberty interests allegedly arising under Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 92F, 706-669, & 706-670)[5] (Counts I, III, and V). See id., PageID #8-10, 12. Raines also alleges six state law claims, three under Article I, Section 5 of the Hawaii Constitution (Counts II, IV, VI), defamation (Count VII), negligence (Count VIII), and a claim for violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F, et seq. (Count IX). See id., PageID #11, 13-18. Raines seeks declaratory, compensatory, and punitive relief, and an order expunging his converted SCC/CCA charges from his DPS institutional file.


         The court must screen all prisoner civil actions seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Complaints or claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek relief from an immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). During screening, the court sets conclusory factual allegations aside, accepts non-conclusory factual allegations as true, and determines whether these allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plausibility finding does not mean “probability, ” but it requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678. The court should “draw on its judicial experience and common sense” to determine plausibility. Id. at 679.

         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). A complaint that lacks a cognizable legal theory or alleges insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory fails to state a claim. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         Leave to amend should be granted if it appears the plaintiff can correct the complaint’s defects. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). A court has the discretion to dismiss a complaint without leave to amend, however, when “it is clear that the complaint could not be saved by any amendment.” Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).


         A. Federal Jurisdiction: 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1988

         Raines invokes jurisdiction under § 1983. “To sustain an action under section 1983, a plaintiff must show ‘(1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional or statutory right.’” Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 987 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 556 U.S. 1256 (2009); see also West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Additionally, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of the conduct of a particular defendant, and he must allege an affirmative link between the injury and the conduct of that defendant. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).

         Raines also invokes jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, alleging Defendants conspired to violate his rights. To state a conspiracy under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must show: (1) a conspiracy; (2) to deprive any person or class of persons of equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws; (3) an act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) a personal injury, property damage or a deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States. Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 641 (9th Cir. 1980).

         Because § 1985 derives from the Thirteenth Amendment, a plaintiff must also allege “invidiously discriminatory, racial or class-based animus.” Caldeira v. Cty. of Kauai, 866 F.2d 1175, 1182 (9th Cir. 1989); Gillespie, 629 F.2d at 641. If an alleged conspiracy is predicated on the same allegations as the § 1983 claim, the absence of a § 1983 claim precludes a § 1985 conspiracy claim. Id. at 1182. A conspiracy claim under § 1985 “must allege facts to support the allegation that the defendants conspired together. A mere allegation of conspiracy without factual specificity is insufficient.” Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep’t, 839 F.2d 621, 626 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 1039 (9th Cir. 1991).

         Finally, Raines invokes jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, which authorizes the award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party. Pro se litigants, however, are not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees under § 1988.[6]See Friedman v. Arizona, 912 F.2d 328, 333 n.2 (9th Cir. 1990); Gonzalez v. Kangas, 814 F.2d 1411, 1412 (9th Cir. 1987); cf. Kay v. Ehrler, 499 U.S. 432, 437-38 (1991) (no award to attorneys representing themselves); Elwood v. Drescher, 456 F.3d 943, 946-48 (9th Cir. 2006) (discussing pro se ...

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