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Gordon v. Sequeira

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 3, 2018

SCOTT GORDON, #A1080674, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANCIS SEQUEIRA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT IN PART AND DIRECTING SERVICE

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Scott Gordon's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). ECF No. 14. Gordon names Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”) employees Warden Francis Sequeira; Classification Custody Officers (“COs”) Doe Defendants 1 and 2; Security COs Doe Defendants 3 and 4; Counselor Paul Neeson; Thomas Craig, III, M.D.; Unit Team Manager Keoni Morreira; and Programs Administrator Gary Kaplan as Defendants in their individual capacities. He alleges that Defendants failed to protect him from two assaults by other inmates when he was incarcerated at HCF in June 2016.[1]

         The FAC states failure-to-protect claims under the Eighth Amendment against Defendants Dr. Thomas Craig, Paul Neeson, Keoni Morreira, and Classification CO Doe Defendants 1 and 2. As a result, these claims may be served, and Defendants shall respond.

         Gordon fails to state a claim against Defendant HCF Warden Francis Sequeira, and these claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. Gordon also fails to state a claim against Defendants Gary Kaplan, [2] and Security CO Doe Defendants 3 and 4, and these claims are DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND[3]

         On May 26, 2016, Gordon was hired for the HCF kitchen work line and transferred to medium security housing Module 3, where inmate Shalom Tuimalealiifano was also housed. Tuimalealiifano had recently been returned to Hawaii to face criminal charges for assaulting inmate “Naki” in 2012; he had also allegedly assaulted inmate “Landis” in 2015. Gordon says that Tuimalealiifano was transferred to Arizona because of these two assaults, where he was classified as a maximum security inmate and required to participate in a “SHIP” treatment program that is designed for violent gang members. He says Tuimalealiifano had not completed the SHIP program when he was returned to Hawaii and that, therefore, he was still classified as a maximum security inmate when he returned to HCF.

         On June 6, 2016, Tuimalealiifano assaulted Gordon and broke his jaw. Gordon was taken immediately to the emergency room for treatment. He returned to HCF that day and was rehoused in the HCF Medical Unit. While in the Medical Unit for approximately two weeks, Gordon met with Defendant Dr. Craig several times and discussed his fears for his safety from Tuimalealiifano and his gang.

         On June 20, 2016, Gordon met with Defendant Neeson, who had investigated the June 6, 2016 assault. Neeson apparently initiated “Separatee Status” for Gordon against Tuimalealiifano and all related gang members which was to take effect immediately. Neeson also had investigative reports and anonymous “kites” from other inmates regarding the June 6, 2016 assault. Neeson assured Gordon that he would be safe when he left the Medical Unit. Gordon was then transferred from the Medical Unit to a new module, where he was “immediately assaulted” and held hostage by Tuimalealiifano's gang associates for twenty-four hours. FAC, ECF No. 14, PageID #112. On June 21, 2016, Gordon was discovered and immediately taken to the Pali Momi Medical Center emergency room for treatment. He was apparently returned to the Medical Unit.

         On June 30, 2016, Defendant HCF Warden Francis Sequeira denied Gordon's request for protective custody and approved Gordon's transfer to another module. When Gordon arrived at the new module, Tuimalealiifano immediately confronted him. Gordon therefore refused to accept this transfer and was taken to segregation; he was granted protective custody and suffered no disciplinary or other consequences for his refusal to transfer. See id., PageID #113.

         Gordon commenced this action on October 30, 2017. Compl., ECF No. 1. On January 5, 2018, Gordon submitted a signed Amended Complaint. ECF No. 8. On January 24, 2018, the Court found that Gordon stated failure-to-protect claims against Defendants Craig, Neeson, Kaplan, and Morreira. See 01/24/2018 Order, ECF No. 9. All other claims as alleged against all other Defendants were dismissed.

         On March 20, 2018, Gordon filed the FAC, alleging failure-to-protect claims under the Eighth Amendment against Defendants Craig, Neeson, Kaplan, Morreira, Sequeira, and Doe Defendants 1-4. FAC, ECF No. 14.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court must screen the FAC's failure-to-protect claims to determine whether they state a claim against each named Defendant. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a) (requiring pre-answer screening of all inmate complaints filed in forma pauperis or against government officials). Screening under §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(a) 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). 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 v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). “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 679.

         A. Failure-to-Protect Under ...


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