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Williams v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 18, 2019

DAVID VERDEN WILLIAMS, JR., FED. REG. #99700-022, Plaintiff,


          J. Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff David Verden Williams, Jr.'s (“Williams”) first amended complaint (“FAC”) brought pursuant to Bivens v. Si x Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Williams alleges that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) violated his constitutional rights as a pretrial detainee at the Federal Detention Center, Honolulu (“FDC Honolulu”) on or about January 26, 2012.[1]

         For the following reasons, the FAC is DISMISSED for Williams' failure to state a colorable claim for relief. Williams is granted leave to amend his claims in Count I only, on or before July 22, 2019. Count II is DISMISSED with prejudice. Williams' Motion for Appointment of Counsel is DENIED.


         The court must conduct a pre-Answer screening of all pleadings brought by prisoners, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a). Claims or complaints 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); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Screening under §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a) involves the same standard of review as that used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 12(b)(6), 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). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. 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 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, 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).

         II. BACKGROUND [2]

         Williams commenced this action on February 12, 2019, alleging that he was assaulted by another inmate at the FDC Honolulu in 2012, due to negligence by an FDC Honolulu psychiatrist, and that he was then denied medical care. See Compl., ECF No. 1. The court dismissed Williams' original Complaint on April 22, 2019, for failure to state a colorable claim for relief with leave granted to amend. Order, ECF No. 21 (“April 22, 2019 Order”). In the April 22, 2019 Order, the court provided Williams detailed guidance regarding the deficiencies in his claims and the relevant legal standards that appeared to apply to them. See id., PageID #105-111. The court directed Williams to submit only “one coherent pleading” that explained his claims in an organized manner, rather than continuing to assert his claims in serially-filed letters, motions, and pleadings. Id. at PageID #94. Williams was notified that being granted leave to amend was “not an open invitation” to add new claims, but a direction to provide enough detail for the court to understand the claims that he had already asserted, detailing who the Defendants are and what they did or failed to do that violated his civil rights. Id. at PageID #104.

         Williams has disregarded the court's instructions and guidance in large part. Since filing the FAC, Williams has filed a notice of appeal of the April 22, 2019 Order (ECF No. 26), [3] an ex parte letter seeking legal guidance (ECF No. 27), a Request for Release from Custody (ECF No. 32), and a Motion for Appointment of Counsel and a supplemental Statement of Facts of the Case (ECF No. 33). In the FAC, Williams names improper defendants again, alleges new claims not raised in the original Complaint, and fails to allege sufficient facts to support these new claims.

         The FAC alleges two causes of action. In Count I, Williams, who says that he is schizophrenic, alleges that a “tactical team” at the FDC Honolulu used excessive force against him several times when they forced him into Special Housing Unit (“SHU”) cells with inmates that he alleges posed a risk to his safety. ECF No. 25, PageID #145. He says the team “would slam [him] against walls and to the ground . . . violently forcing [him] into cells with several inmates.” Id. at PageID #148. Williams provides no further details regarding these incidents, such as: (1) when they occurred; (2) why a tactical team was required to move him from a suicide cell to the SHU, rather than moving him by his own volition once he was no longer suicidal; (3) on whose orders he was moved: (4) who composed the tactical team; and (5) why he refused to be housed with these other inmates, that is, why it was inappropriate for him to be housed with these particular inmates.

         Williams further alleges that, on January 26, 2012, BOP and/or FDC Honolulu officials negligently housed him with a “known, violent inmate” who attacked him when Williams refused his demand for oral sex, fracturing William's skull and nose. Id. Williams claims that he incurred brain damage and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) as a result of the assault. He directs the court to his many other documents in the record for further details regarding this alleged attack and resulting mental disabilities. Williams no longer alleges that he was denied medical care after this assault.

         In Count II, Williams alleges that “corrupt officers at F.D.C. Honolulu were involved in placing torture chemicals in food trays repeatedly.”[4] Id., PageID #146. He says the BOP “willfully and deliberately allowed this inhumane activity at F.D.C. Honolulu.” Id. Williams says this happened daily, although he does not say exactly when this occurred. He claims that these “non lethal torture chemicals” caused a burning flesh odor to emanate from his chest and body, id. at PageID #148, and that he lost 52 lbs. from these “burnings, ” id. at PageID #146. He says that Lieutenant Kim told him, “I never put anything in anyones [sic] food!” Id.

         Williams seeks $20 million in compensatory damages. Id. at PageID #149.


         As the court informed Williams in the April 22, 2019 Order, Bivens recognized for the first time an implied cause of action for damages against federal actors in their individual capacity for violating a plaintiff's civil rights that is analogous to a suit brought against state actors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Vega v. United States, 881 F.3d 1146, 1152 (9th Cir. 2018). To state a Bivens claim for damages, a plaintiff must allege facts showing that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, [5] and (2) the alleged deprivation was committed by a federal actor. Van Strum v. Lawn, 940 F.2d 406, 409 (9th Cir. 1991).

         A. ...

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