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Williams v. Kobayashi

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 3, 2019

ANTHONY TROY WILLIAMS, FED. #05963-122, Plaintiff,
HIROMICHI KOBAYASHI, et al., Defendants.


          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Anthony Troy Williams' First Amended Complaint (FAC). ECF No. 6. Williams is a pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center, Honolulu (FDC-Honolulu).[1] Williams alleges that Defendants[2] violated his rights under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments when they allegedly denied him equal protection of the law, due process, and the free exercise of his religion.

         For the following reasons, the FAC is DISMISSED for failure to state a colorable claim for relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a-b). Williams may file an amended pleading as limited below to correct the deficiencies in claims dismissed herein without prejudice, on or before February 5, 2019.

         I. SCREENING

         The court is required to screen the FAC, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), and dismiss claims that are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim for relief, or that seek damages from defendants who are immune from suit. See Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing dismissal of prisoner suits under § 1915A(b)).

         Section 1915 screening involves the same standard of review as that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). 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. at 678.

         Rule 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 unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). The “mere possibility of misconduct” does not meet this standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 555; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Pro se 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). The court must grant leave to amend if it appears the plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). If a claim or complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal with prejudice is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Tr. v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).

         II. CLAIMS[3]

         In Count I, Williams alleges that Warden Kobayashi retaliated against him by (1) denying his personal minister's application for “special visitor as a minister” status, and (2) removing her from Williams' approved visitors list. FAC, ECF No. 6, PageID #63. Williams says the FDC-Honolulu chaplain had verified her credentials as a minister, she had passed a background check, and she had been allowed to visit him between December 2017 and February 2018. Williams claims this violated his right to freely exercise his religion under the First Amendment. See id.

         In Count II, Williams alleges that Captain Dixon retaliated against him by delaying his outgoing and incoming emails for three to ten days after Williams “took the FDC to court, ” in contrast to other inmates' emails, which are relayed within several hours. Id., PageID #64. Williams claims this delay interferes with his ability to communicate with his attorney, family, and friends, and caused him to miss unidentified motions deadlines. Williams alleges this violated his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

         In Count III, Williams alleges that (1) his incoming and outgoing legal mail is opened outside of his presence, and (2) he is denied legal materials from outside of the prison. See id., PageID #65. Williams names no Defendants within this claim, but alleges elsewhere that Associate Warden Card “prevented my legal mail from being mailed out and ordered my legal mail to be opened outside of my presence” when he named her as a Defendant. Id., PageID #60. Williams claims this violated his right to due process under the Fifth Amendment.

         Williams brings his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and the “Common law.” See FAC, ECF No. 6, PageID #59. He seeks prospective injunctive relief only.


         As a preliminary matter, the court will not refer to the original Complaint or incorporate its statements of fact into the FAC to determine whether Williams' allegations state a claim or adequately identify the Defendants' connection to his claims.[4] Local Rule (LR) 10.3 states:

Any party filing or moving to file an amended complaint, counterclaim, third-party complaint, or answer or reply thereto shall reproduce the entire pleading as amended and may not incorporate any part of a prior pleading by reference, except with leave of court.

LR10.3. The original Complaint was dismissed on October 22, 2018, and it is now superceded by the FAC, which must stand on its own. The court will not ignore inconsistencies or omissions between the two pleadings, but to the extent Williams moves to incorporate by reference the original Complaint, his motion is DENIED.

         A. Claims Against Defendant Olsen are Dismissed

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, pleadings must contain a “short and plain statement” of the court's jurisdiction that shows the plaintiff is entitled to relief, and a demand for the relief sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Claims must be set forth simply, concisely, and directly in a manner that gives the defendant fair notice of the claims alleged. See Rule 8(c)(1) and (d)(1). Thus, a complaint must allege in specific terms how each named defendant is involved and set forth an affirmative link between each defendant's actions and the claimed deprivation. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164, 167 (9th Cir. 1980); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

         Williams names Associate Warden Olsen as a Defendant in the caption of the FAC but alleges no claims against him or facts showing Olsen's involvement in his claims. Williams either is unable to cure his claims against Olsen or he has voluntarily abandoned them, and these claims are DISMISSED with prejudice.

         B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Williams cannot maintain a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, unless Defendants were acting under color of state law. See Order Dismissing Complaint With Leave to Amend (October 22, 2018 Order), ECF No. 5, PageID #42 (citing Chudacoff v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nev., 649 F.3d 1143, 1149 (9th Cir. 2011), and Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co. Inc., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982)). The FAC does not support an inference that Defendants are state actors and claims alleged under § 1983 are DISMISSED with prejudice.

         C. Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics

         Bivens actions and § 1983 actions “are identical save for the replacement of a state actor under § 1983 by a federal actor under Bivens.” Van Strum v. Lawn, 940 F.2d 406, 409 (9th Cir.1991). Bivens provides a damages action against federal officers in their individual capacity for their constitutional violations. See Bivens, 403 U.S. at 397. Bivens does not encompass injunctive and declaratory relief that requires official government action. Solida v. McKelvey, 820 F.3d 1090, 1093-94 (9th Cir. 2016) (citing Higazy v. Templeton, 505 F.3d 161, 169 (2d Cir. 2007) (“The only remedy available in a Bivens action is an award for monetary damages from defendants in their individual capacities.”) and Simmat v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 413 F.3d 1225, 1231 (10th Cir. 2005) (“[A] B ...

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