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Annan-Yartey v. Muranaka

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 5, 2016

NAPOLEON T. ANNAN-YARTEY SR., Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER T. MURANAKA; OFFICER ROYCE S. OHIRA; OFFICER CHAD K. MURPHY; HONOLULU CHIEF OF POLICE LOUIS M. KEALOHA; HONOLULU POLICE DEPARTMENT; CITY & COUNTY OF HONOLULU; and “ALL POLICE OFFICERS INVOLVED AND OFFICIALS, ” Defendants.

          ORDER: (1) GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN DISTRICT COURT WITHOUT PREPAYING FEES OR COSTS; (2) DISMISSING SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT IN PART; AND (3) DIRECTING SERVICE

          J. Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On November 1, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Napoleon T. Annan-Yartey, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint for Civil Right Violation against the City and County of Honolulu (the “City”); Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”);[1] HPD Officers T. Muranaka (“Muranaka”), Royce S. Ohira (“Ohira”), and Chad K. Murphy (“Murphy”) in their individual capacities; HPD Chief Louis M. Kealoha (“Kealoha”) in his official capacity; and “all police officers involved and officials” (“Doe Defendants”) (collectively, “Defendants”), ECF No. 1, and an Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP Application”), ECF No. 4. On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 5, followed by a “Second Amended Complaint” (docketed as a “Supplement” because Plaintiff did not yet have court leave to file an amended complaint) on November 15, 2016, ECF No. 6. The next day, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 7, which was granted on November 17, 2016, ECF No. 8. On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed his “Second Amended Complaint for Civil Right Violation” (“SAC”), correcting an error on the cover page of the previously filed Supplement. ECF No. 10.

         As set forth below, the court GRANTS Plaintiff's IFP Application, DISMISSES the SAC in part, and DIRECTS service of the SAC.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. IFP Application

         Plaintiff's IFP Application indicates that he has no income, assets, or expenses. IFP Appl. ¶¶ 2-6, 8, ECF No. 4. Because Plaintiff has made the required showing under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in forma pauperis (i.e., without prepayment of fees), the court GRANTS Plaintiff's IFP Application.

         B. The SAC

         The SAC asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985(3) for alleged discrimination and violations of Plaintiff's rights secured by the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as state law claims.

         1. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff, an African-American male, alleges that Muranaka, Ohira, and Murphy arrested him, and searched and seized his belongings without probable cause after Plaintiff, who was carrying a bag of recently purchased food, crossed a street along with other pedestrians. SAC ¶¶ 8, 9, 21-23, 25-26. Muranaka and Ohira allegedly made racially derogatory remarks;[2] Ohira choked Plaintiff; all three officers “pulled him by his neck and then threw him on the ground, ” restrained him with handcuffs, and took his wallet; Muranaka searched Plaintiff's bag and took his federally-issued ID; and all three officers held him on the ground for a lengthy period of time until Muranaka stated that Plaintiff “came up clean;” all without telling Plaintiff why he was stopped. Id. ¶¶ 24, 26-29, 31, 33. Plaintiff was charged in state court with disobeying traffic signals and littering based on affidavits of probable cause containing allegedly false statements or omissions by the three officers. Id. ¶¶ 34, 36. Plaintiff appeared in court several times related to the allegedly false charges before they were dismissed with prejudice, based on a motion by the prosecuting attorney. Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Somewhat confusingly, the SAC later alleges that “criminal proceedings against [Plaintiff] went to trial and the court came with a (not guilty verdict) thereafter all charges were dismissed in favor of Plaintiff[], ” id. ¶ 52, and that “[a]ll 65 charges were terminated in Plaintiffs favor, ” id. ¶ 81.

         Further, Plaintiff alleges that the officers' conduct was a direct result of the “deliberate policies and practices” of the City, including a failure to: (1) “adequately supervise and train its officers”; (2) “properly and adequately monitor and discipline its officers”; and (3) “adequately and properly investigate citizen complaints of police misconduct.” Id. ¶¶ 44, 47. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that HPD has a “policy, practice and/or custom of unlawfully interfering with and/or arresting, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, individuals who exercise their rights under the First Amendment by engaging in monitoring and documenting police activities and/or misconduct.” Id. ¶ 48. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that HPD Chief Louis M. Kealoha (“Kealoha”) “exercised and delegated . . . municipal final decision making power to the Internal Affairs Bureau and others[, and] trained and supervised individual Defendants Muranaka, Murphy and . . . Ohira.” Id. ¶ 17.

         The SAC alleges § 1983 claims against all Defendants for violation of rights protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution including due process (Counts 1 and 5); unreasonable search, seizure, and arrest without probable cause (Count 2); excessive force (Count 3); and malicious prosecution (Count 4). The SAC alleges claims against Muranaka, Chad, and Ohira for (1) violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and for racial discrimination and conspiracy to discriminate pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985(3) (Count 11); and (2) intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count 12). The SAC alleges state law claims against all Defendants for violation of rights protected by the Hawaii State Constitution including equal protection (Count 7); unlawful search, seizure, arrest, and excessive force (Count 8); and malicious prosecution (Count 9). And the SAC alleges claims against the City pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) (Count 6), and the doctrine of respondeat superior (Count 10).

         As a result of the foregoing, the SAC alleges that Plaintiff suffered “physical, mental and emotional injury and pain, mental anguish, suffering, humiliation and embarrassment.” Id. ¶ 55. See also Id . ¶¶ 57, 58, 61, 63, 70. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Id. ¶ VII.

         2. Standards of Review

         The court must subject each civil action commenced pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), governing IFP proceedings, to mandatory screening. The court must order the dismissal of any claim that it finds “(i) is frivolous or malicious, (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see, e.g., Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (holding that “the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners”); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (stating that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) “not only permits but requires” the court to sua sponte dismiss an IFP complaint that fails to state a claim).

         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. See UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners LLC, 718 F.3d 1006, 1014 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). A plaintiff must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008). This tenet -- that the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint -- “is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, ...


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