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Aquino v. State

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 12, 2019

BRIAN AQUINO, #A5018716, Plaintiff,


          Susan Oki Mollway, United States District Judge.

         Before the court is pro se Plaintiff Brian Aquino's first amended prisoner civil rights complaint (“FAC”) brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Comp., ECF. No. 13. Aquino alleges that Defendants Hawaii Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) Sheriffs Adrian Kanoa, Jeff Piimauna, Dexter Kauahi, Michael Hirst, Deven English, Christopher Lee, and Alexander Talavera violated the Fourth Amendment when they allegedly arrested him without a warrant or probable cause, with assistance from Defendant Cal Ganutan, a Hawaiian Monarch Hotel Security guard (collectively, “Defendants”).

         For the following reasons, the FAC is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(a-b) for failure to state a colorable claim for relief. Aquino may file another amended complaint on or before August 5, 2019, if he is able to cure the deficiencies in his claims.


         The court is required to screen Aquino's amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune from suit. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

         Screening under §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b) involves the same standard of review as that used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (screening under § 1915(e)(2)); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (screening pursuant to § 1915A). 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); 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. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or an “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; 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 the complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal without leave to amend is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).


         Aquino filed the original Complaint on January 26, 2018. ECF No. 1. The court screened that Complaint, dismissed it in part for failure to state a claim, and stayed the action pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), while his ongoing state criminal proceedings regarding the arrest at issue here were resolved. See Order, ECF No. 6. Aquino was notified that, after his state proceedings were concluded, he could file an amended complaint to address the deficiencies in his original Complaint after his state proceedings concluded, or voluntarily dismiss the action.

         At the conclusion of his state criminal proceedings, Aquino moved to reopen the case. Mot., ECF No. 10. The court granted the Motion and directed Aquino to either file an amended complaint or notify the court that he would voluntarily dismiss. Order, ECF No. 11.

         On July 8, 2019, Aquino filed the FAC. ECF No. 13. Aquino cured certain noted deficiencies in his original complaint, omitting his girlfriend as a plaintiff, omitting the State and the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel as defendants, identifying the Doe Defendants, and naming Defendants in their individual capacities only. In its entirety, the FAC's statement of facts alleges:

On May 3, 2017 @ 5:45 AM 7 members from assigned to the sheriffs office, along with 1 member from the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel Security illeagally [sic] raided & arrested me in a privately owened [sic] room I was staying in. They gained entry to the hotel room with aid from the Hotel Security Gaurd [sic] & Hotel Management who provided CCTV surveillance & a hotel master key card without proof of any kind of warrant, to exact an illeagal [sic] arrest on me. Therefor giving proof to my Fourth Amendment Complaint. As they in their individual capacities acted under the color of state law.

FAC, ECF No. 13, PageID #43-44. Aquino again seeks $150, 000 in damages from each Defendant and court fees.

         III. ...

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