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Rowan v. State of Hawaii Dep't of Public Safety

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 12, 2019

GEORGE C.L. ROWAN, #A0221576, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff George C.L. Rowan's prisoner civil rights complaint. Rowan says that he is a sentenced inmate who is incarcerated at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”) with “pretr[ia]l felons inmates due to mental Health evaluation.” Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID #1. Rowan does not explain what his own classification status is, but he apparently complains that he is housed with inmates who are classified as medium security. See Id. He states, “I am hereby among inmates that are modified with a classification structure due to prison overcrowding.” Id. Rowan asserts the State:

needs to e[]stablish the correct and immediate Polices and Procedures to follow State and civil laws to run inmates by there [sic] acorreding [sic] classification level with this type of evaluation level it will prevent the constitute level of threat to facilities modification structure and locally state laws. With[i]n said this type of modification provide a open game to a (petitioner) . . as myself to file a civil and state, tort claim against the State and also the D.P.S system of Hawaii for violating a (Delliberate Indifferance) [sic]. . Policies and Procedures of D.P.S. System.


         I. SCREENING

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis and who seek relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). A prisoner's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from defendants who are immune from such relief. Id.

         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 “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive screening, a complaint requires facially plausible, sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “mere possibility of misconduct” or an “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 678-79; see also Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         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, 203 F.3d at 1130, but 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: (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 Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976).

         Rowan's complaint is nearly incomprehensible. He names only the State, he identifies no basis for this Court's jurisdiction, he asserts no coherent statement of facts in support of any claims, he fails to explain what injury he has suffered or link a Defendant to that injury, and he fails to assert any prayer for relief. Rowan's complaint is therefore DISMISSED for his failure to state a cognizable claim for relief, with leave granted to amend. The Court provides the following legal standards to enable Rowan to amend his pleading.

         Rowan is notified that the State, its agencies, and state officials are immune from suit for damages in federal court. Aholelei v. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 488 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007). Further, “prospective declaratory and injunctive relief” is available under § 1983 only “to enjoin an alleged ongoing violation of federal law.” Oyama v. Univ. of Haw., 2013 WL 1767710, at *7 (D. Haw. Apr. 23, 2013) (quoting Wilbur v. Locke, 423 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other grounds by Levin v. Commerce Energy Inc., 560 U.S. 413 (2010)); see also Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989).

         As a convicted prisoner, Rowan's claims arise under the Eighth Amendment, which protects convicted prisoners from inhumane methods of punishment and conditions of confinement. Morgan v. Morgensen, 465 F.3d 1041, 1045 (9th Cir. 2006). The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment imposes on prison officials a duty to “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1991) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). “[T]he appropriate inquiry when an inmate alleges that prison officials failed to attend to serious medical needs ...

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