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Thompson v. Hawaii Department of Public Safety

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 3, 2017

THAD THOMPSON, #A5013250, Plaintiff,
v.
HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, HALAWA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, NOLAN UEHARA, Defendants,

          ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Thad Thompson's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), ECF No. 7, and Motion for Preliminary Injunction.[1] ECF No. 2. Thompson is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”) and is proceeding in forma pauperis. He names the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (“DPS”), HCF, and HCF official Nolan Uehara, in his individual and official capacities, as Defendants. Thompson alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

         For the following reasons, Thompson's FAC is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a), with leave granted to amend. Thompson's Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED.

         I. SCREENING

         Federal courts must screen all cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, or seek to proceed without prepayment of the civil filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a). Courts must identify cognizable claims and dismiss those claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).

         A complaint 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). 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Moreover, a plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Pro se prisoners' pleadings must be liberally construed and given the benefit of any doubt. Blaisdell v. Frappiea, 729 F.3d 1237, 1241 (9th Cir. 2013); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). A plaintiff must identify specific facts supporting the existence of substantively plausible claims for relief. Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears possible that the plaintiff can correct the complaint's defects. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).

         II. DISCUSSION

         “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 a particular defendant's conduct and an affirmative link between the injury and the violation of his rights. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976). “A person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 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).

         A. Thompson's Claims[2]

         On March 27 and 29, 2017, Thompson was written up for fighting with two other inmates. On April 19, 2017, Thompson signed two Notice of Report of Misconduct and Hearing forms, giving him twenty-four hours notice of the hearing to be held the next day regarding the charges. See ECF No. 7-1. Thompson asked Monica Chun, who delivered the notices, to postpone the hearings so that he could find witnesses. He also asked if she would speak with Captain Paleka, because Thompson believed that Paleka and other prison officials were aware that he was not the aggressor. Chun agreed.

         The hearing for both incidents was held on May 2, 2017. Discipline committee chair Defendant Nolan Uehara inquired whether Thompson was planning to participate. Thompson said he was, but asked if Uehara would speak with Chun regarding Captain Paleka's opinion of the incidents, and he requested Uehara to call his witnesses. Uehara allegedly said he was not interested in Captain Paleka's opinion and would not call Thompson's witnesses. Apparently, Thompson then refused to participate. See ECF No. 7-1, PageID #32, 34 (“Findings and Disposition of Corrective Action”). The discipline committee found Thompson guilty of both charges and sanctioned him to thirty days in lockdown for each charge, to run consecutively. Thompson refused to sign the hearing decisions. See id.

         On May 4, 2017, Thompson filed two grievances (Nos. 394917 and 390924) regarding Uehara's comments and behavior at the hearing. They were rejected because Thompson did not include copies of his disciplinary findings. Thompson immediately filed two more grievances (Nos. 390936 and 390937). Thompson states that he has not completed the HCF grievance process regarding his claims because he “is seeking a preliminary injunction regarding this complaint's issues [and] has not yet been able to exhaust.” FAC, ECF No. 7, PageID #26. Thompson seeks damages and that his charges be voided.

         B. Claims Against HCF ...


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