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Reyes v. State

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 2, 2020

LEINETTE KAINOA REYES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF HAWAII, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING BALANCE OF DEFENDANTS STATE OF HAWAII, NOLAN ESPINDA AND ERIC G. TANAKA'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON COUNTS I-V, VIII, AND XI OF THE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

          JILL A. OTAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This action concerns the alleged sexual assault of female inmates at the Women's Community Correctional Center (“WCCC”). The Court previously granted in part and deferred in part Defendants State of Hawaii (the “State”), Nolan Espinda (“Espinda”), and Eric Tanaka's (“Tanaka['s]”) (collectively, “State Defendants[']”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Counts I to V, VIII, and XI of the Third Amended Complaint, ECF No. 121. See ECF No. 178. This Order addresses the portion of the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment that the Court deferred pending the submission of additional evidence and supplemental briefing; namely, Tanaka's request for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the balance of the Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual History

         Plaintiffs Leinette Kainoa Reyes; Dana K.A. Baba; Darnell K. Maluyo; Artemio Panlasigui, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Dawnielle C. Panlasigui, deceased, and as next friend to A.P., a minor; Tiana M. Soto; Maelene Cruz; Monica J. Alves Peralto; Shawna L. Tallman; Reyna M. Banks; and Victoria Suanoa-Piper (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) allege that while incarcerated, they were regularly sexually assaulted by four Adult Correctional Officers (“ACOs”) and one civilian employee. ECF No. 51 at 3-4. Plaintiffs allege that these assaults often occurred in the WCCC Control Stations. Id. ¶¶ 34- 90. Plaintiffs allege multiple instances of inappropriate touching, forcible oral sex, digital penetration, and vaginal intercourse with the promise of privileges. Id. Plaintiffs allege that as a result of the fear and anxiety caused by these sexual assaults, Plaintiff Dawnielle Pawnlasigui committed suicide. Id. ¶¶ 58-59. Plaintiffs allege that the State, Espinda (as Director of the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”)), and Tanaka (as warden of WCCC) failed to supervise their employees and condoned a culture, pattern, and policy of sexual abuse given the prevalence of the assaults and the similar attendant circumstances. Id. ¶¶ 91-123.

         Plaintiffs further allege that Espinda, Tanaka, and the ACOs seduced them with promises of marriage; all Defendants were responsible for Plaintiffs' sexual assaults; and all Defendants caused Plaintiffs to be restrained against their will and by force of coercion. Id. ¶¶ 125, 139, and 158.

         As warden of WCCC, Tanaka is responsible for upholding DPS policies and procedures, ensuring the safety and security of WCCC inmates, and protecting WCCC staff and the public. Defs.' Concise Statement of Facts (“CSF”), ECF No. 122 ¶ 4; Decl. of Eric G. Tanaka (“Tanaka Decl.”), ECF No. 122-1 ¶ 4. The DPS Office of Training and Staff Development trains all new corrections officer recruits and nonuniform staff before they are assigned to a facility. Defs.' CSF ¶ 6; Tanaka Decl. ¶ 6. Training covers DPS policies and procedures regarding the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) and WCCC staff receive necessary on-the-job training. Defs.' CSF ¶ 7; Tanaka Decl. ¶ 7. Every two years, WCCC staff are required to attend a PREA refresher course and Tanaka is responsible for ensuring compliance. Defs.' CSF ¶ 7; Tanaka Decl. ¶ 7.

         All reports of sexual assault at WCCC are investigated pursuant to ADM.08.08. Defs.' CSF ¶ 10; Tanaka Decl. ¶ 10. Tanaka disclaims involvement in the sexual assaults and maintains that he lacked awareness of the sexual assaults until after they were reported to WCCC staff, at which time investigations were conducted. Defs.' CSF ¶ 10; Tanaka Decl. ¶ 10.

         Plaintiffs allege that the conditions and understaffing at WCCC facilitated the sexual assaults by the ACOs. Pls.' CSF, ECF No. 137 ¶ 24; Decl. of Leinette Reyes (“Reyes Decl.”), ECF No. 137-2 ¶ 11; Decl. of Shawna Tallman (“Tallman Decl.”), ECF No. 137-3 ¶¶ 18-20; Pls.' Supp. CSF, ECF No. 167 ¶ 24; Decl. of Monica Peralto (“Peralto Decl.”), ECF No. 167-1 ¶ 4; Decl. of Tiana Soto (“Soto Decl.”), ECF No. 167-2 ¶ 6. When WCCC experienced understaffing, three officers were on duty, as opposed to five. Pls.' CSF, ECF No. 137 ¶¶ 7-5. Moreover, understaffing meant that WCCC had one roving officer in a unit instead of two. Id. ¶ 21, Tallman Decl. ¶ 19. And when the Sergeant was not on duty, ACO Taofi Magalei became acting Sergeant, which is how he had the opportunity to sexually assault Plaintiffs in the control station. Pls.' CSF ¶ 21; Tallman Decl. ¶ 20. According to Plaintiffs, it is widely known that neither the control stations nor the areas immediately outside the control stations contain video cameras. Pls.' CSF ¶ 23; Tallman Decl. ¶ 21; Reyes Decl. ¶ 11; Baba Decl. ¶ 40; Pls.' Supp. CSF, ECF No. 167 ¶ 23; Peralto Decl. ¶ 7; Soto Decl. ¶ 7.

         Plaintiffs contend that Tanaka knew about these issues because of a prior lawsuit-Smith v. State of Hawaii, Civil No. 14-00432 LEK-KSC-involving a WCCC inmate who was sexually assaulted by an ACO. Pls.' Supp. CSF, ECF No. 167 ¶ 16; Ex. F to Pls.' Supp. CSF, ECF No. 167-16.

         II. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs commenced this action on March 30, 2017. On July 26, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint, ECF No. 24, which was dismissed by stipulation on November 15, 2017. ECF No. 44. Plaintiffs filed their Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) on October 19, 2018. ECF No. 51. The TAC asserts the following claims: (1) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts I to IV); (2) seduction (Count V); (3) negligence (Count VI); (4) negligent hiring, training, and supervision (Count VII); (5) assault and battery (Count VIII); (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IX); (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count X); (8) false imprisonment (Count XI); and (9) wrongful death (Count XII). Id. Plaintiffs pray for general, special, and punitive damages; reimbursement of costs and expenses; pre- and post-judgment interest; injunctive and declaratory relief; and any additional relief deemed appropriate. Id. at 37.

         On April 18, 2019, the Court issued an Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants State of Hawai‘i, Nolan Espinda, and Eric Tanaka's Motion to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint Filed on October 18, 2018. ECF No. 71. The Court dismissed Counts I to IV with prejudice against the State Defendants and denied the motion with respect to Counts I to IV against Tanaka in his individual capacity and as to Counts V to XII against all Defendants. Id. at 16.

         On December 13, 2019, the Court issued an Order Granting in Part and Deferring in Part Defendants State of Hawaii, Nolan Espinda, and Eric G. Tanaka's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Counts I to V, VIII, and XI of the Third Amended Complaint (“SJ Order”). ECF No. 178. The Court: (1) dismissed with prejudice (a) Plaintiffs' state law claims (Counts V to VIII, X to XII) against Tanaka and Espinda in their official capacities and (b) Plaintiffs' state law claims (Counts VII, VIII, X, XI, and XII) against the State; (2) granted summary judgment as to Plaintiffs' seduction (Count V), assault and battery (Count VII), and false imprisonment ...


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