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Mayfield v. Doe

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 13, 2018

EARL R. MAYFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
MAIN WARDEN JOHN DOE and ASSC WARDEN MR. LYLE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         The Court evaluates the second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Earl R. Mayfield on July 10, 2017 (Doc. 22) (“Amended Complaint”) under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court determines that some of the claims in the Amended Complaint are barred under the doctrine of res judicata and the remaining claims fail to state a valid claim for relief. As a result, the Court will dismiss the entire case with prejudice.

         Plaintiff Earl R. Mayfield is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. He asserts civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Mayfield is a prisoner in state custody. He has been convicted at least seventeen times in New Mexico for crimes including promoting prostitution, trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, burglary, aggravated assault, battery on a peace officer, and child abuse.[1] See Mayfield v. Torres, No. CV 08-00413 RB/KBM, Doc. 75 at 3-4 (Recommended Resolution). Mayfield has filed a total of thirteen cases in this Court.[2]

         Mayfield filed this proceeding as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 1). His initial pleading alleged a laundry list of complaints relating to conditions of incarceration at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility (“CNMCF”), ranging from lack of access to the prison grievance system to medical malpractice to the service of “cold” meals. (Doc. 1 at 1-4). He named, as Defendants, “Main Warden John Doe or Assc Warden Mr. Lyle, ect” (Doc. 1 at 1). Because he did not seek relief that is available in a habeas corpus proceeding, the Court construed his filing as a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499-500 (1973); Rael v. Williams, 223 F.3d 1153, 1154 (10th Cir. 2000).

         Mayfield submitted a first amended complaint (Doc. 6) and sought to consolidate this case with Earl R. Mayfield v. Craig Cole, et al., No. CV 17-00332 WJ/KK. Mayfield argued that the two cases involved the same ongoing claims. Although it is difficult to parse out Mayfield's claims due to his tendency to submit overlapping contentions in his many cases, the allegations in CV 17-00332 appeared to relate to a different facility and different officials than the facility and officials involved in this case. (See CV 17-00332 Doc. 1).

         The Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 18) on June 5, 2017, denying Mayfield's request to consolidate and dismissing this case for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court also granted Mayfield leave to file another amended complaint, which Mayfield then filed on July 10, 2017. (Doc. 22).

         In his Amended Complaint, Mayfield still names, as Defendants, “Main Warden John Doe & Ass Warden Mr. Lyle.” (Doc. 22 at 1). However, he makes no claims against either “Main Warden” or “Ass Warden Mr. Lyle” in the body of the Amended Complaint. Instead, Mayfield refers to “staff, ” “4B lady sergant Jane Doe, ” “julie tick tack toe 9999, ” “caseworker Mr. Cole, ” “Sgt Aragon, ” “nurse Stephanie Westerfield, “Lt CJ Germoe, ” “Sgt Daniel Grant, ” and “Ms J. Shane.” (Doc. 22 at 2-6). In his prayer for relief Mayfield seeks damages against “D.O.C., ” “Central NMCF Warden & staff, ” “Lt Germoe, ” “Sgt Grant & Nurse Stephanie Westefield.” (Doc. 22 at 7).

         I. Standards for Failure to State a Claim

          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). 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. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); 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. A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. 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 for relief or is frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 915(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 to 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.

         In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court liberally construes the factual allegations. 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 (10th Cir. 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 a 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).

         II. Mayfield's Amended Complaint Fails to State a Claim for Relief and Res Judicata Bars Some Claims

         A. Section 1983 Civil Rights Claims

         Plaintiff Mayfield seeks relief for civil rights violations. (Doc. 22 at 1, 7). The exclusive vehicle for vindication of substantive constitutional rights is under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Bakerv. McCollan,443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979); Albright v. Oliver,510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (Section 1983 creates no substantive rights; rather it is the means through which a plaintiff may seek redress for deprivations of rights ...


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