United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
Oki Mollway United States District Judge
the court is pro se Plaintiff Lacey Lee
Wheeler's prisoner civil rights complaint brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1. Wheeler claims
that Maui Community Correctional Center (“MCCC”)
adult corrections officers (“ACOs”) Sergeant
Jared Tahon, Harley Dela-Cruz, Clyde Tokunaga, and Travis
Kamaka (collectively, “Defendants”), violated the
Eighth Amendment when they allegedly used excessive force
against her on or about March 15, 2017.
court has screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a) and finds that Wheeler
states a colorable claim for the use of excessive force.
Wheeler, however, alleges claims against Defendants named in
their official capacities only, and as explained below, these
claims must be DISMISSED with prejudice.
is granted leave to file an amended pleading on or before May
6, 2019, realleging her claims against Defendants Tahon,
Dela-Cruz, Tokunaga, and Kamaka in their individual
capacities. If Wheeler timely amends her complaint to name
Defendants in their individual capacities, the court will
direct service of the Amended Complaint on Defendants Tahon,
Dela-Cruz, Tokunaga, and Kamaka, who will be required to file
a response after service is perfected. If Wheeler fails to do
so, this action will be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a) for failure to
state a colorable claim for relief.
court must perform a pre-answer screening of Wheeler's
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A(a). Byrd v. Phoenix Police Dep't, 885 F.3d
639, 641 (9th Cir. 2018). 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)).
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). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Under Rule 8
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 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.
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). Leave to amend must be granted if it appears the
plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint.
Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws
of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged
violation was committed by a person acting under the color of
state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988). Additionally, a plaintiff must allege that she
suffered a specific injury as a result of a particular
defendant's conduct and an affirmative link between the
injury and the violation of his rights. See Monell v.
Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978);
Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).
states that she and other MCCC inmates were out of their
cells in an open area on March 15, 2017, because the air
conditioning unit was malfunctioning, and the cells were
intolerably hot and had inadequate air circulation. She says
that when Defendant Sgt. Tahon threatened to return the
inmates to their cells, the inmates became upset. Wheeler
says several inmates began bullying and threatening her, so
she knocked on a window to get ACO Washington's attention
and to seek help. Defendants ACOs Sgt. Tahon, Kamaka,
Dela-Cruz, and Tokunaga immediately entered the open area and
allegedly accused Wheeler of breaking the day room door;
Wheeler denies this. Defendants ordered Wheeler outside and,
when she complied, they allegedly forcefully grabbed her.
Wheeler says that ACO Tokunaga slammed her into the sharp
corner of a counter, then all Defendants slammed her onto a
table, banging her shins. Wheeler claims that Sgt. Tahon and
ACO Kamaka roughly pushed her legs and arms up and against
her back into a hog-tie position, while ACO Dela-Cruz applied
pressure to her previously injured collar bone and slammed
her head repeatedly on the table. Wheeler says she did not
resist. At this point, Lieutenant Abac entered the area and,
Wheeler says, Defendants immediately stopped.
says that she was unable to breathe, became hysterical, and
believes she had a concussion because she briefly passed out.
She was taken to the medical unit where photographs were
taken, but she alleges the medical unit did not properly
assess her injuries. Wheeler was placed in segregation,
apparently received a disciplinary charge, was classified as
a maximum custody inmate, and was transferred to WCCC on
Oahu. Wheeler seeks compensation for her injuries.