United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART
A. OTAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is pro se Plaintiff Sione Finefeuiaki's
prisoner civil rights Complaint. ECF No. 1. Finefeuiaki
alleges that six unidentified Maui County Police Department
officers (Doe Defendant police officers) violated his civil
rights after he was involved in a car accident and was
arrested on or about February 5, 2018.
states colorable claims for relief against Doe Defendant
police officers in Counts I and II for the alleged excessive
use of force during his arrest. Finefeuiaki fails to state
cognizable claims for relief in Counts III, IV, V, and VI,
and these claims are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(a-b), as discussed below.
Finefeuiaki is proceeding in forma pauperis and is a
prisoner, the court must screen his Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a). Claims that are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
seek damages from defendants who are immune from suit must be
dismissed. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing §
1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004
(9th Cir. 2010) (discussing § 1915A(b)).
1915 screening involves the same standard of review as that
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See
Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012)
(screening under § 1915(e)(2)); Wilhelm v.
Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (screening
under § 1915A(b)). That is, 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,
680 F.3d at 1121. “Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
12(b)(6) is read in conjunction with Rule 8(a). Zixiang
Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2013). Under
Rule 8, 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 a complaint must allege
enough facts to provide both “fair notice” of the
claim asserted and “the grounds upon which [that claim]
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 & n.3 (2007) (citation and quotation marks
omitted); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 555 (stating
Rule 8 pleading standard “demands more than an
accusation”). The “mere possibility of
misconduct” falls short of meeting this standard.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 555; see also Moss v. U.S.
Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).
litigants' pleadings must be liberally construed, and all
doubts should be resolved in their favor. Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations
omitted). Leave to amend must be granted if it appears the
plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint.
Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130. If the complaint or a claim
cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal without leave to
amend is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Tr. v. City of
L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).
was in a car accident in Maui on or about February 5, 2018,
in which he fractured his spine. Finefeuiaki alleges that Doe
Defendant police officers beat him into unconsciousness while
he was trapped in the car, then searched him and his car
without a warrant. He awoke at the hospital, where he
discovered that $6, 000.00 had been taken from his pocket.
was later released into police custody. He was able to stand
for short periods only and alleges that at times he needed
help reaching his food and medicine (which were put in his
cell), and using the toilet and showering. Finefeuiaki says
Doe Defendant police officers did not assist him and or
return him to the hospital when he requested.
he was in police custody, Finefeuiaki alleges that a Doe
Defendant police officer threatened him when he refused to
answer questions without an attorney present. Finefeuiaki
seeks damages, dismissal of the unidentified charges, a
passport, and immediate deportation to Tonga.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
plead that a defendant acting under color of state law caused
a deprivation of the plaintiff's rights created by
federal law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988). An individual “causes” a constitutional
deprivation when he or she (1) “does an affirmative
act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits
to perform an act which [the individual] is legally required
to do that causes the deprivation;” or (2)
“set[s] in motion a series of acts by others which the
[individual] knows or reasonably should know would cause
others to inflict the constitutional injury.”
Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir.
1978) (citations omitted).
regarding causation “must be individualized and focus
on the duties and responsibilities of each individual
defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused
a constitutional deprivation.” Leer v. Murphy,
844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted).
Maui County Police Department and Officers in their Official
“official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than
name, to be treated as a suit against the entity.”
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985);
see also Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-72
(1985); Larez v. City of L.A., 946 F.2d 630, 646
(9th Cir. 1991). Such a suit “is not a suit against the
official personally, for the real party in interest is the
entity.” Graham, 473 U.S. at 166.
is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983, and a
county or municipal actor is liable only for injuries that
arise from an official policy or longstanding custom.
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y.,
436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); see also City of Canton v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989) (“A municipality
can be liable under § 1983 only where its policies are
the ‘moving force [behind] the constitutional
violation.'”) (citing Polk Cty. v. Dodson,
454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981)). A plaintiff must allege facts to
establish “that a [city or county] employee committed
the alleged constitutional violation pursuant to a formal
governmental policy or a ‘longstanding practice or
custom which constitutes the “standard operating
procedure of the local governmental entity.'”
Gillette v. Delmore, 979 F.2d 1342, 1346 (9th Cir.
1992); see also Ziegler v. Indian River Cty., 64
F.3d 470, 474 (9th Cir. 1995) (noting county is “not
liable for acts of county officials unless the officials'
conduct was the consequence of county policy or
custom”) (citation omitted).
identifies no policies or longstanding practices or customs
of the Maui County Police Department under which any
individual Doe Defendant police officer was allegedly acting
that violated his rights. Claims against the Maui County
Police Department and Doe Defendant police officers in their
official capacities are DISMISSED.
Excessive Force: Counts I and II
alleges Doe Defendant police officers violated the Fourth and
Eighth Amendments when they allegedly used excessive force
during his arrest. The Eighth Amendment's protection
against cruel and unusual punishment does not apply, because
Finefeuiaki had not been convicted or sentenced yet. See
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394-95 (1989);
Pierce v. Multnomah Cty., Ore., 76 F.3d 1032, 1042
(9th Cir. 1996). Rather, ...