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Long v. Does

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 25, 2016

DE WITT LAMAR LONG, #A1024631, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOES 1-3, NOLAN P. ESPINDA, MICHAEL HOFFMAN, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b)

          DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff De Witt Lamar Long’s prisoner civil rights Complaint. Compl., Doc. No. 1. Long is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”), but challenges events that occurred at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”) between July 3-10, 2014. Long names OCCC Correctional Officers (“CO”) John Does 1-3, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) Director Nolan P. Espinda, and OCCC Warden Michael Hoffman as Defendants. Long alleges Defendants violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is DISMISSED in part with instructions to identify CO John Does 1-3 and leave granted to amend those claims that are dismissed without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Long is a practicing Muslim. In 2014, OCCC and/or DPS prison officials authorized Long to receive his morning meals before sunrise during the month of Ramadan, which is an Islamic religious holiday during which Muslims are encouraged to fast between sunrise and sundown. On July 3, 2014, Long says he awoke before sunrise and requested his morning meal. Compl., Doc. No. 1, PageID #7 (Count I). Long alleges CO John Doe 1 told him he would receive his morning meal at 6:30 a.m., when the next shift arrived. Long explained that, if he was not given his meal before the sun rose, he would be unable to eat until after sunset, nearly twenty-four hours after his last meal. CO John Doe 1 did not provide Long with a morning meal, and Long submitted an informal grievance.

         On July 5, 2014, Long again requested an early morning meal before sunrise. Id., PageID #8 (Count II). Long says he explained to CO John Doe 2 that he was a practicing Muslim and that his name was on a list circulated throughout OCCC permitting early distribution of meals to those inmates observing the Ramadan fast. Long alleges CO John Doe 2 nonetheless refused to provide him an early meal, stating that he would receive a meal when the next shift came on duty. Long went another twenty-four hours before being fed.

         On July 9, 2014, Long alleges that CO John Doe 3 refused to provide him an early morning meal. Id., PageID #9 (Count III). Long states that John Does 1-3 refused to identify themselves. He alleges that CO John Does 1-3 violated the First Amendment when they refused to accommodate his request for an early meal during Ramadan.

         On or about July 10, 2014, Long was transferred to the Federal Detention Center-Honolulu (“FDC-Honolulu). Id., PageID #10-11 (Counts IV & V).[1] Long alleges he was transferred because he filed grievances regarding CO John Does 1-3’s alleged actions. Long states that he was required to sign up for Ramadan again at FDC-Honolulu, but he alleges no claims against any FDC-Honolulu prison officials or regarding his incarceration there. Long alleges, however, that the OCCC grievance specialist informed him that his transfer to FDC-Honolulu rendered his grievances at OCCC against CO John Does 1-3 moot. Long alleges this unidentified grievance specialist told him he could no longer pursue his grievances while he was confined at FDC-Honolulu. Long therefore alleges his transfer to FDC-Honolulu was a ruse to impede the grievance procedure.

         Long seeks compensatory damages and prospective injunctive relief in the form of training for all OCCC staff regarding how to properly accommodate Muslim inmates during Ramadan.

         II. SCREENING

         The court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis or seeking redress from a government entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(a). Complaints or claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

         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). 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). This does not require detailed factual allegations, but “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully- harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To state a plausible claim, a plaintiff must plead facts that allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         First, a court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those allegations that are legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679-80. Second, the court must consider the factual allegations “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible claim for relief, the claim may proceed. Id. at 680. Plausibility requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted). The court is not required to “‘assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.’” Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (quoting W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981)).

         A court must “accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). “[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient.” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2004); accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Leave to amend should be granted if it appears the plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). If it is clear the complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal without leave to amend is appropriate. Syl ...


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