United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT IN PART
Oki Mollway United States District Judge
the court is pro se Plaintiff Justin Gonda's amended
prisoner civil rights Complaint. ECF No. 9. Gonda claims that
Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”)
officers Scott Recarte, Henry Moe, and John Doe failed to
protect him from an assault by other inmates. Gonda alleges
that Sergeant Matthew Kuresa failed to prevent his further
injury when Gonda fell in his cell after the assault, and
OCCC physicians Mark Pedri, D.O., and Richard Banner, M.D.,
failed to provide adequate medical care for his injuries.
Gonda asserts claims against Defendants in their individual
and official capacities and seeks damages pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and state law.
court has screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b)(1), and finds that it
states a plausible claim for relief for damages against
Defendants Recarte, Moe, Doe, Kuresa, and Dr. Pedri. Gonda
again fails to state a plausible claim against Dr. Banner,
and claims against him are DISMISSED. After the Complaint is
served, Defendants Recarte, Moe, Doe, Kuresa, and Pedri are
required to respond.
Gonda is a prisoner and is proceeding in forma pauperis, the
court conducts a pre answer screening of his pleading
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).
The court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's complaint,
or any portion of it, that is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are
immune from suit. 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)). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to
ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need
not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom
v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014)
(describing pre answer screening) (“Nordstrom
I”) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health
Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).
standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a
claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112
(9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680
F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening
pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar
standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule
12(b)(6) requires that a complaint “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.
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. “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.”
Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct”
or “unadorned, the defendant unlawfully harmed me
accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility
to amend should be granted if it appears the plaintiff can
correct the complaint's defects. Lopez, 203 F.3d
at 1130. A court may dismiss a complaint or claim without
leave to amend, however, when “it is clear that the
complaint could not be saved by any amendment.”
Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d
1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).
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.
Official Capacity Claims
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). Official capacity defendants are subject to suit under
§ 1983 only “for prospective declaratory and
injunctive relief . . . to enjoin an alleged ongoing
violation of federal law.” Oyama v. Univ. of
Haw., 2013 WL 1767710, at *7 (D. Haw. Apr. 23, 2013)
(quoting Wilbur v. Locke, 423 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th
Cir. 2005), abrogated on other grounds by Levin v.
Commerce Energy Inc., 560 U.S. 413 (2010)); see also
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58,
7071 (1989) (“[A] suit against a state official in his
or her official capacity is not a suit against the official
but rather is a suit against the official's
office.”); Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123
sovereign immunity bars awards for damages for past
violations under Hawaii state law, unless the State has
clearly relinquished its immunity. See Bush v.
Watson, 918 P.2d 1130, 1137, 81 Haw. 474, 481 (1996);
Pele Def. Fund v. Paty, 837 P.2d 1247, 1266, 73 Haw.
578, 60910(1992); cf. Sound v. Hawaii Dep't of Human
Serv., 2013 WL 5021023, at *1 2 (Haw. App. 2013)
(denying award of fees and recognizing the distinction
between sovereign immunity on actions seeking prospective
relief and those seeking retrospective relief).
seeks compensatory and punitive damages only and alleges no
ongoing violations of state or federal law. Gonda's
claims against Defendants named in their official capacities
are therefore DISMISSED with prejudice.
Deliberate Indifference Claims Under § 1983 Against
Defendants in Their Individual Capacities
Gonda was a pretrial detainee when the incidents at issue
occurred, his claims arise under the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process Clause. See Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979); Castro v. Cty. of
Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1067 68 (9th Cir. 2016),
cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 831 (2017).
recently, all pretrial detainees' deliberate indifference
claims were nonetheless addressed under the Eighth
Amendment's two pronged standard, as the minimum
protection afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment. See
Lolli v. Cty. of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 419 (9th Cir.
2003) (stating that a pretrial detainee's claim of
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need is analyzed
under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause rather than
under the Eighth Amendment, but the same standards apply);
Castro, 833 F.3d at 1069. The Eighth Amendment's
standard requires a showing that (1) the risk posed to the
prisoner is objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the
prison official subjectively “knows of and disregards
an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 837 (1970)
(citation omitted). “In other words, the official must
demonstrate a subjective awareness of the risk of
harm.” Castro, 833 F.3d at 1068 (internal
the Supreme Court has rejected the Eighth Amendment test for
reviewing pretrial detainees' excessive force claims,
holding that the “appropriate standard” for such
claims “is solely an objective one.” Kingsley
v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 74 (2015). Under
Kingsley, “a pretrial detainee must show only