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Joseph v. MTC Corporation MTC Otero County Prison Facility

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 21, 2018

STAR JOSEPH, Plaintiff,
v.
MTC CORPORATION (CORRECTIONS) MTC OTERO COUNTY PRISON FACILITY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER is before the Court under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) on the Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights filed by Plaintiff Star Joseph. (Doc. 1). The Court determines that the Complaint fails to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and will be dismissed without prejudice. The Court also grants Plaintiff Joseph leave to file an amended complaint.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Star Joseph is a prisoner incarcerated at the Otero County Prison Facility (“OCPF”). (Doc. 1 at 2). Plaintiff Joseph alleges deprivation of constitutional “rights to be protected, the right to be free from harm and the right to not be put in harms way.” (Doc. 1 at 3). Although Plaintiff does not cite to any constitutional provision, the Court construes his Complaint as alleging violation of 8th Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-834 (1994).

As factual support for his claims, Joseph alleges:
“On August 24th, 2017 at approx. 10:45 pm I was physically attacked by 10-15 inmates in South Charley Pod . . . At no time during or after the physical assult did any members of MTC Otero County Prison Facility Staff or Correctional Officers on duty enter South Charley Pod to intervein or stop the assult. The physical assult took place directly across from the glass windowed master control guard booth and the entire incident was filmed on camera. During the last count at 11:00 pm one of the correctional officers notice that I was seriously injured and in need of immediate medical attention.”

(Doc. 1 at 6). Plaintiff Joseph contends prison staff was deliberately indifferent and failed to render aid because he is African-American and was being assaulted by Caucasian and Hispanic inmates. (Doc. 1 at 4). Joseph claims that, as a result of the attack, he sustained head trauma, extensive bruising, broken bones in the mid-lower back, and post-traumatic stress. (Doc. 1 at 5). Joseph seeks $700, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of earning capacity. (Doc. 1 at 5, ¶ VI).

         II. Standard for Failure to State a Claim

         Plaintiff Joseph is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under either Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleading. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Oklahoma Dep't of Human Services, 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Under § 1915(e)(2)(B) the court may dismiss the complaint at any time if the court determines the action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(2). The authority granted by § 1915 permits the court the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). See also Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1109. The authority to “pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations” means that a court is not bound, as it usually is when making a determination based solely on the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). The court is not required to accept the truth of the plaintiff's allegations but, instead, may go beyond the pleadings and consider any other materials filed by the parties, as well as court proceedings subject to judicial notice. Denton, 504 U.S. at 32-33.

         The Court liberally construes the factual allegations in reviewing a pro se complaint. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). However, a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants and a pro se plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court. Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10thCir. 1994). The court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the plaintiff or to supply factual allegations to support the plaintiff's claims. Nor may the court assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1110.

         In deciding whether to dismiss the complaint, in whole or in part, the court is to consider whether to allow plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint. Pro se plaintiffs should be given a reasonable opportunity to remedy defects in their pleadings. Reynoldson v. Shillinger, 907 F.2d 124, 126 (10th Cir. 1990). The opportunity to amend should be granted unless amendment would be futile. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1109. An amendment is futile if the amended claims would also be subject to immediate dismissal under the Rule 12(b)(6) or § 1915(e)(2)(B) standards. Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir. 2004).

         III. Analysis of ...


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