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Thompson v. Torres

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 2, 2017

THAD THOMPSON, #A5013250, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Thad Thompson's Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction. ECF Nos. 1, 3. Thompson is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility ("HCF") and is proceeding in forma pauperis. He names HCF Counselor Katherine Torres, Captain Paleka, Residency Department Supervisor John Doe, and High Kitchen and Law Library Supervisors Jane Does 1- 2, as Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Thompson claims Defendants violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments when they allegedly retaliated against him for filing suit and denied him due process during his housing and custody classification review.

         Thompson states a retaliation claim against Defendant Katherine Torres and service of the Complaint is appropriate for this claim only. The remaining claims and Defendants in the Complaint are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a), for Thompson's failure to state a claim, 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 Atl. 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 plaintiffs 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).


         "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[1]

         Thompson has received three disciplinary infractions at HCF since November 22, 2016.[2] A hearing was held regarding the latest two charges on May 2, 2017, after which Thompson was found guilty of both infractions. He was sanctioned to thirty days concurrent segregation for each charge of fighting. Thompson remained in the general population for two weeks, however, and was moved to the High Special Housing Unit ("HSHU") on May 15, 2017. Thompson calculated that he would be released to the general population on Sunday, June 4, 2017, thirty days from the date he was found guilty of the two latest charges.

         Between May 24 and 30, 2017, Thompson filed two federal lawsuits in the District of Hawaii. See Thompson v. Dep 't of Public Safety, et al., No. 1:17-cv-00235 LEK (D. Haw. May 24, 2017) (alleging Defendants Torres and Paleka denied him access to the courts); Thompson v. Dep't of Public Safety, et al, No. 1:17-cv-00250 DKW (D. Haw. May 30, 2017) (alleging HCF Discipline Committee Chair Nolan Uehara denied him due process during the disciplinary proceedings for his March 2017 infractions for fighting). Thompson also moved to reopen another suit, Thompson v. City andCty. of Honolulu, et al, No l:17-cv-00002 JMS (D. Haw.) (dismissed Feb. 21, 2017; request to reopen May 29, 2017). Thompson also has a suit pending in this court, Thompson v. Afamasaga, No. 1:16-cv-00128 JMS (D. Haw. Mar. 21, 2016) (alleging HCF guard assaulted him).

         On Friday, June 2, 2017, an inmate was released one day early from the HSHU. When Thompson questioned whether he too would be released early, the guards told him to file a grievance. On Monday, June 5, 2017, Defendant Torres gave Thompson written notice that he was being held in HSHU administrative segregation pending a review of his custody status. Torres allegedly smiled, made "googly eyes, " and laughed under her breath when she did so. Compl., ECF No. 1, PagelD #6. Thompson submitted written requests for further explanation to Torres and Paleka on June 14, 15, 25, and 26, 2017, which he alleges were "answered with vague if any answers at all." Id.

         Thompson complains that the HSHU has no programs, classes, workline jobs, TV, or microwave, and has "significantly less social activity, " than general population housing. He further alleges that Jane Doe 1 kitchen supervisor has given him only "finger food" since June 23, 2017, and Jane Doe 2 law library supervisor has not scheduled him for "reasonable" law library visits. Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID#7.

         Thompson states that he has not exhausted his administrative remedies regarding his claims because he seeks injunctive relief. In addition to such injunctive relief, Thompson seeks damages, and a transfer to the Federal Detention Center-Honolulu.

         B. First Amendment: Retaliation

         Thompson claims that Defendant Torres retaliated against him for filing suits when she denied him writing supplies, refused to submit his requests for law library or kiosk time, and gave "vague and nonsensical responses" to his requests for information regarding his continued housing in the HSHU. Id. He claims Captain Paleka retaliated against him by failing to answer his requests for information regarding his continued housing in the HSHU. Thompson claims Jane Doe 1 retaliated against ...

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