United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER: (1) GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA
PAUPERIS; (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART; AND (3) DENYING
REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY INJUNCTION
Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge.
8, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Ruth Ann Springer
(“Plaintiff”) filed a “Complaint for
Violation of Civil Rights” (“Complaint”)
against Hawaii County Police (“HCP”) Officer
Brian Hunt (“Hunt”); HCP Sargent Wakita
(“Wakita”); HCP Sargent Tingle
(“Tingle”); HCP Officer Shane Travis
(“Travis”); HCP Officer Kenneth Ishii
(“Ishii”); realtor Lori Henbest
(“Henbest”) (collectively, the “Eviction
Defendants”); and State of Hawaii Judge Harry P.
Freitas (“Judge Freitas”),  ECF No. 1, and an
Application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP
Application”), ECF No. 4. On June 23, 2017, Plaintiff
filed a Motion for Temporary Injunction. ECF No. 9. For the
reasons discussed below, the IFP Application is GRANTED, the
Complaint is DISMISSED in part for failure to state a claim,
and the Motion for Temporary Injunction is DENIED.
Plaintiff's IFP Application Is Granted
IFP Application indicates that she receives $1, 071 per month
in social security disability payments, expects to receive an
unspecified amount in State of Hawaii public assistance
payments (SNAP benefits), and has assets of $50 in a bank
account and a 2007 Ford Focus. IFP Appl. ¶¶ 2-5.
Plaintiff's monthly expenses include $110 for rent, $130
for a car loan, $89 for car insurance, $100 for gas, $40 for
propane, $60 for water, $43 for Oceanic cable, $225 for
electricity, $25 for “service animal meds, ” and
$100 for food, for total monthly expenses of $922.
Id. ¶ 6. 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.
The Complaint is Dismissed in Part
action appears to arise from State of Hawaii foreclosure and
eviction, and subsequent criminal proceedings. As alleged in
the Complaint (which the court accepts as true in this
Order), on January 15, 2016, the Eviction Defendants were
involved in evicting Plaintiff from her home, on the Big
Island of Hawaii, pursuant to an expired writ of possession.
Compl. at 6 (“3 Officers, 2 Sargent's, [(sic)] and
a Real-estate agent, using an old writ of possession that the
statute of limitation had run out . . . took possession of my
property.”). Hunt allegedly “took down the KAPU
sign that was . . . protecting [Plaintiff] on her
land.” Id. at 9. The Complaint further alleges
that in conjunction with this action, Hunt arrested and
finger-printed Plaintiff. Id. at 9, 10; see also
Id. at 11 (“Officer Hunt made a personal decision
to make it a criminal matter.”). Plaintiff was then
detained, subject to bail. See Id. at 7 (“I
was detained without my consent for violating a statute, I
have just been kidnapped.”); see also Id. at
11 (“[T]he prosecutors and Sargent Wakita set the
ransom for my liberty . . . [and state court] Judge Freitas
confirmed the charges and the ransom[.]”).
Complaint alleges that during the course of Plaintiff's
Officer Hunt assaulted me . . . tearing my rotator cuff when
he grabbed my right arm and jerked me up from where I was
sitting. After hand-cuffing me, he picked me up by my hands
that were cuffed behind my back, forcing me to bend my body
in half to ease the pain in my shoulder joints. I begged him
to stop hurting me and that I was not resisting arrest. . . .
My arm has limits of motion that cannot be fixed. . . . Also,
when Officer Hunt was finger-printing me, he grabbed at my
fingers and squeezed hard. I complained because my fingers
are very sore and hurt when touched because of my
Id. at 9-10.
at some point during the eviction, Henbest “assaulted
me by shoving [me] into the hall wall hard enough to knock
the wind from me.” Id. at 10. The Complaint
alleges that Henbest had the locks replaced on the home and
removed Plaintiff's possessions. Id.
“[B]anks and the real estate agent allegedly sold
[Plaintiff's] home.” Id. at 9.
Subsequently, “people were moved into my home and after
the case was dismissed, my property was never
returned.” Id. at 11.
Complaint alleges that all Defendants and a state prosecutor
conspired to deprive Plaintiff of her rights. Id. at
5, 6, 7, 11. The remainder of the Complaint is filled with
nonsensical opinions, assumptions, conclusory allegations,
and pronouncements. As a result of the foregoing, Plaintiff
allegedly suffered severe mental anguish and depression,
physical injuries, had a nervous breakdown, lost everything,
and became homeless. Id. at 11, 12.
Complaint asserts 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Judge
Freitas, and the Eviction Defendants in their individual
capacities only,  for violation of, and conspiracy to
violate, Plaintiff's statutory and/or constitutional
rights, particularly those protected by the Fourth Amendment.
Id. at 4-7, 11. The Complaint further asserts state-law
tort claims. The Complaint seeks (1) compensatory damages for
permanent injuries to Plaintiff's shoulder; (2) $1, 012,
500 from Judge Freitas (who allegedly presided over the
criminal action); (3) $2, 785, 750.00 in compensatory damages
for the lost property and the toll on Plaintiff's
physical and health; (4) $6, 913, 002.00 in “actual
material losses”; (5) $25, 000, 000.00 per violation
(12 violations) of Plaintiff's rights protected by the
United States and Hawaii constitutions; and (6) the
incarceration of all Defendants for five years, and
forfeiture of all they own. Id.
Standards of Review
court must subject each civil action commenced pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a) to mandatory screening, and order the
dismissal of any claims it finds “frivolous, malicious,
failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeking monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 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,
1126-27 (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 in forma pauperis
complaint that fails to state a claim).
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, 556
U.S. at 678.
is appearing pro se; consequently, the court liberally
construes the Complaint. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d
1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam). The court also
recognizes that “[u]nless it is absolutely clear that
no amendment can cure the defect . . . a pro se litigant is
entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an
opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action.”
Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th
Cir. 1995); see also Crowley v. Bannister, 734 F.3d
967, 977-78 (9th Cir. 2013). A court may, however, deny leave
to amend where further amendment would be futile. See,
e.g., Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Pub., 512
F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008) (reiterating that a district
court may deny leave to amend for, among other reasons,
“repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed . . . [and] futility of amendment”).
Application of Standards to Complaint
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants
in their individual capacities, “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 deprivation was committed by a
person acting under color of state law.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); see OSU Student
Alliance v. Ray, 699 F.3d 1053, 1061 (9th Cir. 2012).
The second prong may be met with a showing of “state
action.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., Inc., 457
U.S. 922, 935 n.18 (1982) (“[C]onduct satisfying the
state-action requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment
satisfies the statutory requirement of action under color of
state law [under § 1983].”). This requirement
“excludes from [§ 1983's] reach merely private
conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful.”
Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50
(1999) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
§ 1983 requires an actual connection between a
defendant's actions and a plaintiff's allegations.
See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658,
692 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371
(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). That is, to