United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DENYING MOTION FOR
Oki Mollway United States District Judge
the court is pro se Plaintiff Rhonda'e Quin'Ley's
prisoner civil rights Complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and Motion for Counsel. ECF Nos. 1, 9. Plaintiff
names as Defendants the Hawaii Department of Public Safety
(“DPS”), the Kulani Correctional Facility
(“KCF”) Acting Warden Wanda Craig (in her
individual capacity), and unidentified Altres Staffing
Medical Services (“Altres”) personnel who are
employed at the Halawa Correctional Facility
(“HCF”)(in their individual capacities). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the First,
Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
court DISMISSES the Complaint for failure to state a claim
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).
Plaintiff is granted leave to correct the deficiencies in his
pleading as detailed below. Plaintiff's Motion for
Counsel is DENIED without prejudice.
court must screen all civil actions brought by prisoners
challenging prison conditions or 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 on which relief may be granted, or seek
relief from a defendant who is immune from suit must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (c)(1).
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 mean
the pleading must include detailed factual allegations, but
the pleading must have “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)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. That is, a pleading suffices
“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.
court must construe a pro se pleading liberally to determine
if it states a claim and, prior to dismissal, explain the
deficiencies in the complaint and give the pro se plaintiff
an opportunity to cure them if the complaint's defects
can be corrected. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc); see also Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010)
(stating that courts must continue to construe pro se filings
liberally even when evaluating them under standard announced
in Iqbal); but cf. Sylvia Landfield Trust v.
City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013)
(holding dismissal with prejudice proper when “it is
clear that the complaint could not be saved by any
July or early August 2016, KCF prison officials ordered
Plaintiff to take a urinalysis test while he was working
outdoors. Plaintiff is in his sixties, has several chronic
medical conditions, and says he was drinking large amounts of
water to stay hydrated to prevent a stroke or heart attack
while working in the heat. Plaintiff's urinalysis tested
negative for drugs, but showed a “low-creatinine
level.” Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #5. Plaintiff says
that Warden Craig and the urinalysis officer told him that
drinking “enough water to stay properly hydrated”
could result in low creatinine levels, and that a low
creatinine level is sufficient to charge an inmate with
tampering with the test. Id., PageID 35-6. Plaintiff
claims this is Warden Craig's “own personal policy,
” meant “to punish the innocent with the
guilty.” Id. Plaintiff was charged with
tampering with the test and transferred to the KCF
says he has a medical memorandum allowing him to keep
Excedrin on his person to address the severe pain that he
often experiences late at night from his chronic ankle and
eye conditions. He says KCF officials took his Excedrin away
for his first two days in segregation, and thereafter the KCF
nurses provided it only on request. Plaintiff says he was
unable to request the medication when he most required it,
however, because Warden Craig has a personal policy of
removing guards stationed outside of the segregation unit
from “late at night” until breakfast at 4:30 a.m.
Id., PageID #6. Guards are posted within the same
building at all times, but it is unclear whether a prisoner
in the segregation unit can always reach them.
alleges that Warden Craig directed guards to take his
personal property when he was moved to segregation and later
transferred to HCF, including his medication, legal papers,
hygiene items, and medical shoes. He says he was also denied
“legal calls” while in KCF segregation.
Id., PageID #7.
says his transfer from KCF to HCF occurred on or about August
11, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that HCF Altres medical
staff denied him any pain medication for his first
two weeks at HCF, apparently while his personal effects were
being sent from KCF. Id.
Plaintiff says he was told that he could pay $23.00 to have a
second urinalysis performed, and that he would only be
charged if the test returned “positive for
drugs.” Id., PageId. #9. Plaintiff
says he was charged $46.00 for the second test, which was not
“positive for drugs, ” although he had not agreed
to pay more than $23.00.
seeks an order directing the DPS to stop considering
prisoners' low-creatinine urinalysis results as proof of
tampering, and compensatory damages.
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.
1983 also requires a connection between a defendant's
actions and a plaintiff's allegations. See Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo
v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). “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).
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983.
Groten v. California, 251 F.3d 844, 851 (9th Cir.
2001) (citing Hale v. Arizona, 993 F.2d 1387,
1398-99 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that state department of
corrections is arm of state, not “person” within
meaning of § 1983)).
“the Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in
federal court against a state, its agencies, and state
officials acting in their official capacities.”
Aholelei v. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 488 F.3d 1144,
1147 (9th Cir. 2007). See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S.
781, 782 (1978) (per curiam) (“There can be no doubt .
. . that [a] suit against the State and its Board of
Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment, unless [the
State] has consented to the filing of such a suit.”);
Brown v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 752
(9th Cir. 2009) (same).
claims against DPS are DISMISSED with prejudice. See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b). Plaintiff may,
however, amend the Complaint not only to continue to name
Warden Smith in her individual capacity, but also to add her
in her official capacity to preserve his claims for
prospective injunctive relief, subject to the limitations
discussed below. See Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla
Indians v. Hardin, 223 F .3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2000)
(recognizing exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity
“for prospective declaratory and injunctive relief
against state officers, sued in their official capacities, to
enjoin an alleged ongoing violation of federal law”).
First Amendment Claims
broadly alleges that Warden Craig violated the First
Amendment when she allegedly directed guards to confiscate
his “legal papers” and grievances and denied him
“legal calls” in KCF segregation. See
Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #8.
has a constitutional right of access to the courts, and
prison officials may not interfere with his right to litigate
or seek redress of grievances. See Silva v.
Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1101-02 (9th Cir. 2011). To
state a claim of denial of access to the courts, Plaintiff
must allege that he suffered an actual injury to that right.
This means Plaintiff must allege that he was prejudiced with
respect to contemplated or existing litigation, such as the
inability to meet a filing deadline or present a nonfrivolous
claim. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996).
does not explain how Warden Craig interfered with his active
or contemplated litigation. He states that he has brought
only one other suit as a prisoner, which was settled in
2005. Plaintiff was able to commence the present
action within two months after he was transferred from KCF.
Moreover, Plaintiff neither explains what he means by
“legal calls, ” nor alleges that he was denied
constitutionally required contact with his attorney in a
criminal proceeding while he was confined at KCF. Nor does
Plaintiff explain how the alleged denial of “legal
calls” prevented him from otherwise communicating with
individuals outside of the prison. To the contrary, Plaintiff
asserts that he contacted the American ...