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Cuda v. Employees/Contractors/Agents

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 9, 2019

BRANDON JOSEPH CUDA, #A5011935, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Brandon J. Cuda's prisoner civil rights Complaint. Cuda names“Employees/Contractors/agents at or OCCC and or Dept. Public Safety, ” whom he describes as “John & Jane Does & Entities (1-10), ” as Defendants in their official and individual capacities (collectively, “Defendants”).[1]Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #1. Cuda alleges Defendants violated his civil rights by housing him in allegedly overcrowded condition at OCCC from November 1, 2018, until he filed the Complaint on February 15, 2019.[2]

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend. Cuda's claims against DPS and OCCC, and for injunctive relief fail to state a cognizable claim for relief and are DISMISSED with prejudice.

         Cuda's allegations of overcrowding at OCCC state a plausible cause of action. Cuda does not provide sufficient facts to explain what John or Jane Does 1-10 did or failed to do that violated his rights, however, as is required to proceed with a pleading naming only Doe Defendant. Moreover, even if Cuda can amend his claims to provide sufficient facts regarding John and Jane Does' personal involvement with his claims, his pleadings cannot be served until they are identified.


         The court performs a pre-answer screening of all prisoner and in forma pauperis complaints 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)).

         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 1108, 1121 (9th Cir. 2010). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 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” 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).

         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). 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 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).


         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (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). A plaintiff must also allege that he 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).

         A. Claims

         Cuda alleges that he was housed in a two-man cell with three other prisoners from November 1, 2018, until at least February 15, 2019, when he filed the Complaint. Cuda claims that he was forced to sleep and eat on the floor this entire time, and alleges that these overcrowded conditions resulted in “physical altercations” with his cell mates. Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #5. Cuda has ulcerative colitis which requires easy access to a toilet, which he alleges made it particularly difficult for him to be housed in a two-man cell with three other inmates. Cuda says that he has raised these issues with prison officials multiple times, but received no relief. He seeks damages and injunctive relief.

         B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

         “The Eleventh Amendment bars suits for money damages in federal court against a state, its agencies, and state officials acting in their official capacities.” Aholelei v. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007). An “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. ...

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