United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT TUI FAATEA'S MOTION TO
E. Kobayashi, United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Tui Faatea's
(“Faatea”) Motion to Dismiss
(“Motion”), filed on June 25, 2018. [Dkt. no. 135.]
Pro se Plaintiff John Leon Gatewood (“Plaintiff”)
filed his memorandum in opposition on July 6, 2018, and
Defendant April McNeil (“McNeil”) filed her
statement of no opposition on August 2, 2018. [Dkt. nos. 143,
159.] The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition
without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(d) of the Local
Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the
District of Hawaii (“Local Rules”). Faatea's
Motion is hereby denied for the reasons set forth below.
filed his original complaint on March 2, 2017, and he filed
an amended complaint on April 24, 2017. [Dkt. nos. 1, 8.] On
April 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Prisoner Civil Rights
Complaint - Second Amended Complaint (“Second Amended
Complaint”), alleging a retaliation claim against
McNeil and Faatea, in their individual capacities. [Dkt. no.
102.] This claim has been construed as a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claim alleging a violation of Plaintiff's First
Amendment rights. See Order Dismissing Complaint in
Part and Denying Assistance of Counsel, filed 4/11/17 (dkt.
no. 6) (“4/11/17 Order”), at 6, 12-13 (discussing
retaliation claim in Plaintiff's original
claim arises from an altercation between him and Faatea on
September 18, 2015 (“Incident”), when Plaintiff
was an inmate at the Waiawa Correctional Facility
(“WCF”). [Second Amended Complaint at pg. 5.]
Plaintiff alleges McNeil and Faatea were both employed by and
stationed at WCF, as Adult Correctional Officers
(“ACO”). [Id. at pgs. 1-2.] Plaintiff
alleges McNeil “maliciously retaliated against
[Plaintiff]” after he informed her and the WCF staff
that he intended to press charges against Faatea for
“striking and pushing [him].” [Id. at
pg. 5.] At an unspecified time thereafter, Plaintiff alleges
the Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) came to
WCF to investigate the charges. Thereafter, McNeil and Faatea
allegedly falsified certain documents to ensure that
Plaintiff received “unfair disciplinary
proceedings.” [Id.] According to Plaintiff, as
a result of the Incident and proceeding, Plaintiff was locked
up in solitary confinement where he suffered a nervous
breakdown and fainted. [Id. at pg. 5.] Faatea filed
her answer to the Second Amended Complaint on June 22, 2018.
[Dkt. no. 128.]
filed the instant Motion seeking a dismissal with prejudice
of all claims against her pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b).
Faatea asserts that: Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies; Plaintiff's claims are barred by
the statute of limitations and the doctrine of qualified
immunity; and Plaintiff's claims are moot, not ripe, or
otherwise not justiciable. [Motion at 2.]
Plaintiff's Retaliation Claim
have the constitutional right to file prison grievances under
the First Amendment, and to “pursue civil rights
litigation in the courts.” Schroeder v.
McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 461 (9th Cir. 1995). A viable
claim of First Amendment retaliation must allege five
elements: “(1) An assertion that a state actor took
some adverse action against an inmate (2) because of (3) that
prisoner's protected conduct, and that such action (4)
chilled the inmate's exercise of his First Amendment
rights, and (5) the action did not reasonably advance a
legitimate correctional goal.” Rhodes v.
Robinson, 408 F.3d 559, 567-68 (9th Cir. 2005) (footnote
and citations omitted).
the allegations in the Complaint as true, Plaintiff has pled
sufficient factual allegations to state a plausible
retaliation claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (“To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007))). Plaintiff alleges
both McNeil and Faatea “falsified documents” to
ensure he had an unfair disciplinary hearing, which occurred
after he informed McNeil and the WCF staff of his intent to
file a grievance against Faatea, and after Plaintiff
contacted HPD to “investigate the charges.”
[Second Amended Complaint at pg. 5.] Thus, the first three
elements of Plaintiff's retaliation claim have been met.
See Rhodes, 408 F.3d at 567-68. As a result of the
alleged false documentation by McNeil and Faatea and the
subsequent “unfair disciplinary proceedings, ”
Plaintiff was locked up in solitary confinement where he
suffered a nervous breakdown. [Second Amended Complaint at
pg. 5.] Both the false documentation and discipline based on
incorrect information could reasonably have a
“chilling” effect on a prisoner's intent and
ability to file a grievance, and there is no penological
purpose that could be advanced by either. See
Rhodes, 408 F.3d at 567-68. To the extent Faatea argues
the Second Amended Complaint fails to allege the elements of
a plausible retaliation claim, the Motion is denied.
also argues Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine
of qualified immunity, the statute of limitations, his
failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and finally, that
Plaintiff's claims are “moot, not ripe, or
otherwise not justiciable.” [Motion at 2.] The Court
addresses each argument in turn.
doctrine of qualified immunity “protects government
officials ‘from liability for civil damages insofar as
their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory
or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would
have known.'” Pearson v. Callahan, 555
U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, ...