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Makanani v. Wagutsuma

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 31, 2019

STEPHEN K. MAKANANI, #A3007102, Plaintiff,
NEAL WAGUTSUMA, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Stephen K. Makanani's (“Makanani['s]”) Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1 (Compl.). Makanani alleges that Defendants[1] violated his constitutional rights as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments during a prison misconduct proceeding and the later institution of criminal charges against him.[2] See Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5-7;[3] Supp. to Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3.

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) for Makanani's failure to state a colorable claim for relief. Should Makanani file an amended complaint, he is also ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE why the Court should not abstain from adjudicating his claims against Kauai County Prosecutor Kollar.


         The Court is required to screen all civil prisoner pleadings that “seek[] redress from a governmental entity[, ] officer[, ] or employee[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).[4] Claims or complaints that are frivolous or 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 § 1915A(a) involves the same standard of review as that used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Rosati v. Igbinoso, 791 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). 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 and citation omitted). A claim is “plausible” when the facts alleged in the complaint would support a reasonable inference that the plaintiff is entitled to relief from a specific defendant for specific misconduct. See id.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). 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 (citations omitted); see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         To state a claim, a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”; it requires factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). “All that is required is that the complaint gives ‘the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the ground upon which it rests.'” Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Datagate, Inc. v. Hewlett Packard Co., 941 F.2d 864, 870 (9th Cir. 1991)).

         Pro se litigants' pleadings must be liberally construed and all doubts should be resolved in their favor. See 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. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130. If a claim or complaint cannot be saved by amendment, however, dismissal with prejudice is appropriate. See Sylvia Landfield Tr. v. City of Los Angeles, 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).


         Makanani claims that Defendants violated his rights by “conducting a coer[c]ed administration investigation . . . without a warr[a]nt or sub[p]oena turned it over to prosecution and testif[i]ed in open court.” Supp. to Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 1. Specifically, he alleges that KCCC Defendants threatened to transfer him to HCF during misconduct proceedings regarding an alleged sexual assault that occurred while Makanani was on furlough from KCCC, searched for evidence “outside of the prison facilities, ” failed to warn him against self-incrimination as allegedly required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), [5] denied him counsel, and conspired with Prosecutor Kollar to label him a sex offender. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5-7.

         During the misconduct proceedings at KCCC, Makanani admitted that he had consensual sex with a woman while on a prison furlough and was found guilty of a prison infraction. As a result, Makanani's institutional “points” were increased, he lost his job, was removed from the KCCC Lifetime Stand Program, [6]and was transferred to HCF. Makanani claims this subjected him to “atypical and signi[fi]cant hardship in relation to everyday life in prison.” Id. at 7. He also claims that Warden Wagutsuma discriminated against him by informing the Lifetime Stand Program about his prison misconduct violation.

         Makanani next claims that Prosecutor Kollar discriminated against him by speaking to the news media about Makanani's alleged involvement in the sexual assault before Makanani's arrest. Makanani alleges this denied him a fair trial. See Id. at 6; see also Supp. to Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 3 (“How can I have a right to a fare [sic] trial when the prosecutor talk to the media [n]ews [r]adieo [sic] station and news paper [sic] about this crime before I was arrested[?]”).

         Makanani seeks use immunity for statements that he made at the prison misconduct hearing to preclude their use in his criminal prosecution, [7] declaratory and injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive damages.


         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).

         Section 1983 requires an actual connection or link between a defendant's actions and the plaintiff's alleged deprivation. 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); May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 165, 167 (9th Cir. 1980). “A person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978) (citation omitted). A plaintiff must allege that he suffered a specific injury as a result of a particular defendant's conduct, and an affirmative link between that injury and the alleged violation of his rights.

         A. Claims against Director Espinda and Mayor Kawakami

         Supervisory officials are not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their subordinates “on any theory of vicarious liability.” Crowley v. Bannister, 734 F.3d 967, 977 (9th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). However, “a prison official in a supervisory position may be held liable under § 1983 if he was personally involved in the constitutional deprivation or a sufficient causal connection exists between his unlawful conduct and the constitutional violation.” Lemire v. Cal. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., 726 F.3d 1062, 1085 (9th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). A causal connection can be shown through the supervisor's: (1) own culpable action or inaction in the training, supervision, or control of subordinates; (2) acquiescence in the constitutional deprivation about which a complaint is made; or (3) conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others. See id.; Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 1004 (9th Cir. 2012). Liability may also be imposed “if supervisory officials implement a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation.” Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see Crowley, 734 F.3d at 977.

         Makanani alleges no personal action or inaction by Director Espinda or Mayor Kawakami connecting them to his claims or to any violation of his constitutional rights. Nothing in the Complaint suggests that Mayor Kawakami has a supervisory role over inmates housed at KCCC, which is operated by DPS. And, Makanani alleges no facts showing that Director Espinda was aware of or personally involved with Makanani's misconduct proceedings, failed to adequately train or supervise his subordinates, or implemented a constitutionally deficient policy that caused the alleged constitutional violations.

         Makanani fails to state a colorable claim for relief against Director Espinda or Mayor Kawakami and his claims against them are DISMISSED with leave to amend.

         B. Eighth Amendment

         Makanani broadly alleges that this action arises under “rights guaranteed by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Supp. to the Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 2. To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, a prisoner must satisfy two elements: (1) “the deprivation must be, objectively, sufficiently serious;” and (2) “prison official[s] must have a sufficiently culpable state of mind, ” that is, “one of deliberate indifference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Prison officials act with deliberate indifference when they know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health or safety. See Id. at 837.

         Makanani alleges that he lost his job, was removed from the Lifetime Stand Program, and was transferred to HCF. He alleges no facts showing that KCCC Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to any objectively serious, known risk to his health or safety when they sanctioned him and transferred him to HCF. Similarly, nothing within the Complaint suggests that Prosecutor Kollar violated the Eighth Amendment. Makanani's Eighth Amendment claim is DISMISSED with leave to amend.

         C. ...

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