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Gatewood v. Harrington

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 11, 2017

JOHN LEON GATEWOOD, #A0260188, Plaintiff,


          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff John Leon Gatewood's prisoner civil rights complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Motion for Assistance of Counsel. Compl., ECF. No. 1; Mot., ECF No. 5. Gatewood is incarcerated at the Saguaro Correctional Center (“SCC”), located in Eloy, Arizona, but complains of events that allegedly took place while he was housed in Hawaii at the Waiawa Correctional Facility (“WCF”). Gatewood alleges WCF Warden Scott Harrington, Adult Correctional Officers (“ACO”) April McNeil and Tui Faatea (collectively, “Defendants”), violated his constitutional rights in connection to disciplinary proceedings at WCF in or about late 2015. Gatewood also complains of inadequate dental care while he at WCF.

         Gatewood states a retaliation claim against Defendants McNeil and Faatea and service of the Complaint is appropriate for this claim only. The remaining claims in Gatewood's Complaint are DISMISSED in part for failure to state a claim, with leave granted to amend as discussed below. Gatewood's Motion for Assistance of Counsel is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Gatewood alleges that on or about September 18, 2015, he told ACO McNeil and other WCF staff that he was pressing charges against ACO Faatea for “striking and pushing” him. Compl. ECF No. 1, PageID #6 (Count II). Gatewood states that Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) officers came to WCF and investigated his claims. He claims that McNeil and Faatea then wrote a false disciplinary report against him, alleging that Gatewood had threatened and elbowed ACO Faatea, to retaliate against him and ensure that he would be found guilty at his disciplinary proceedings. Gatewood filed a civil suit against WCF, Faatea, and McNeil in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, on January 26, 2016, Gatewood v. State, 1CC161000128. Id., PageID #3; see also Ho'ohiki, avail. at: (last visited Mar. 23, 2017). This suit is pending.

         Gatewood claims that Warden Harrington negligently upheld ACO Faatea's “accusation and report.” Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #5 (Count I). He says he was then denied parole on January 24, 2017, as a result of his disciplinary proceedings, for which he claims a “Loss of Liberty, ” suggesting he raises a due process claim. Id.

         Finally, Gatewood claims that on or about September 18, 2015, an unidentified dentist “performed a partial root-canal, ” that was allegedly unauthorized. Id., PageID #7 (Count III). Gatewood developed an abscess for which he was given pain medication and was allegedly told by unidentified hospital staff that he would need antibiotics. Gatewood claims that he was denied antibiotics by the WCF “medical unit.” Id. Gatewood seeks compensatory damages and release from custody.


         Because Gatewood is a prisoner and is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court screens his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         Screening under §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b) involves the same standard of review as that used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (discussing screening pursuant to § 1915A). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “contain 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) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or an “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Pro se litigants' pleadings must be liberally construed and all doubts should be resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Leave to amend must 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 the complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal without leave to amend is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).


         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         A. Due Process: ...

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