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Staunton v. Harrington

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 10, 2020

LOUIS LEONA STAUNTON, JR., #A-0110394, Plaintiff,
SCOTT HARRINGTON, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Louis Leona Staunton, Jr.'s (“Staunton['s]”), second amended prisoner civil rights complaint (“SAC”), ECF No. 7, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Staunton alleges that Defendants[1] violated his civil rights during his transfer from the Saguaro Correctional Center (“SCC”), located in Arizona, to the Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”), located in Hawai‘i, when he fell exiting a TransCor bus.

         For the following reasons, the SAC and this action are DISMISSED with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a), for Staunton's repeated failure to state a colorable claim for relief.


         The Court is required to screen all prisoner pleadings 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 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 support a reasonable inference that the plaintiff is entitled to relief from a specific defendant for specific misconduct. See Id. (citation omitted).

         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).

         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).


         Staunton originally alleged that his legs became entangled with a poorly designed seat restraint when he exited a TransCor bus on arrival at HCF after his transfer from SCC. See Compl., ECF No. 1. He claimed that he was unable to break his fall due to these allegedly faulty restraints and that he was substantially injured. Staunton was immediately taken to the Pali Momi Hospital emergency room and treated for his injuries. He alleged that the restraints posed a foreseeable threat to his safety and that he was denied appropriate medical care.

         On August 12, 2019, the Court dismissed Staunton's original Complaint for his failure to state a colorable claim for relief against any Defendant, with leave granted to amend. See Order, ECF No. 4. Staunton was given directions regarding the deficiencies in his claims and cautioned that any amended pleading must “be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading.” Id. at 12.

         On September 5, 2019, Staunton filed the first amended complaint (“FAC”). ECF No. 5. He again alleged that he fell exiting a TransCor bus on arrival at HCF, “due to the flawed design in the seatbelt restraints, ” and stated that the guards failed to assist him down the steps, which he alleged contributed to his injury. Id. at 12. Staunton claimed that he was denied adequate medical care after his fall because (1) Pali Momi's doctors would have provided Percocet or Vicodin for pain relief, but the HCF medical unit only provided Tylenol with codeine; and (2) a “concussion protocol” was not followed, which requires an MRI, CAT scan, or at a minimum, 24-hour observation at a hospital. Id. at 21.

         On November 15, 2019, the Court dismissed the FAC for Staunton's failure to state a colorable claim for relief against any Defendant. See Order, ECF No. 6. The Court dismissed with prejudice all claims against TransCor, SCC Warden Todd Thomas, and HCF, official capacity claims for damages against HCF Warden Scott Harrington, and claims for prospective injunctive relief. All other claims were dismissed with leave granted to amend. The Court again explained the pleading deficiencies in Staunton's claims and notified him that an amended pleading must stand on its own without reference to a prior pleading.

         On December 16, 2019, Staunton filed the SAC. Staunton names CoreCivic, TransCor, and DPS Mainland Branch administrator Shari L. Kimoto (“Kimoto”) only, apparently waiving his claims against all other previously named defendants. See SAC, ECF No. 7 at 1-2; ECF No. 7-1 at 8. The SAC contains no claims and makes no sense without reference to the allegations in the original Complaint and FAC. It consists mainly of definitions regarding civil rights and negligence actions, and citations to case law, federal and state statutes, the Constitution, the “Prisoners Self-Help Litigation Manual, ” and the Court's prior orders. ECF No. 7-1 at 7.

         Staunton says Defendants “violated his civil rights during [his] transfer from S.C.C. to Hawaii when he fell after exiting the bus upon arrival at H.C.F. on November of 2018.” Id. at 1 (some capitalization omitted). He alleges that he sustained a gash above his right eye that required internal and external stitches, and whiplash. He provides no further context regarding his fall, the alleged denial of adequate medical care thereafter was by Defendants, or Defendants' alleged ...

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