United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court is Plaintiff's Pro Se Prisoner Civil
Rights Complaint (Doc. 1-1). Also before the Court are GEO
Group, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 3) and several
motions filed by Plaintiff (Docs. 8, 10, and 11). Plaintiff
contends that prison officials violated his due process
rights and were deliberately indifferent to his medical
needs. Having reviewed the matter sua sponte under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court will dismiss the Complaint,
grant leave to amend, and deny Plaintiff's pending
is incarcerated at the Lea County Correctional Facility
(LCCF). He alleges that prison officials violated his due
process rights by prohibiting him from filing a civil rights
petition. (Doc. 1-1 at 2-3). It appears that Plaintiff filed
a handwritten request for a “notice of complaint,
” which detailed the alleged wrongdoing. Id.
Plaintiff wanted the document to be copied and served upon
“state actors and risk management, ” but D.
Burris and V. Naegele failed to comply or otherwise assist
Plaintiff. Id. The failure allegedly disrupted
Plaintiff's litigation timetable and caused him to lose
four years of work. Id.
also raises two claims for deliberate indifference to medical
needs. He alleges that on October 15, 2018, Officer Williams
prevented “B-Pod” inmates from accessing
prescription medication. (Doc. 1-1 at 4). Officer Williams
purportedly slammed the pod door shut and refused to call a
supervisor. Id. Plaintiff was required to wait a
week to access his medications. Id. The other
medical issue occurred on May 22, 2018. Id. at 5.
Major Buckley moved Plaintiff to a top bunk, even though he
suffers from osteoarthritis and a history of fractures and
hernias. Id. It caused Plaintiff great pain to
access the top bunk. Id.
filed his Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1-1) on January 2,
2019, in New Mexico's Fifth Judicial District Court.
Plaintiff seeks at least $400, 000 in damages under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, the Eighth Amendment, the Due Process Clause,
and the New Mexico Torts Claims Act. The caption of the
Complaint names GEO Group, Inc. (“GEO”), but it
appears that he intended to also name Burris, Naegele,
Williams, and Buckley as defendants. GEO removed the
Complaint to this Court on March 5, 2019, within thirty days
of service. (Doc. 1). GEO also filed a Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 3) under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed motions to appoint
counsel, proceed in forma pauperis, and consolidate
several cases. (Docs. 8, 10, and 11, respectively).
Screening the Complaint
Court has discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis
complaint sua sponte under § 1915A if it
“is frivolous or malicious; [or] fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted.” The Court may also
dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) if “it is
patently obvious that the plaintiff could not prevail on the
facts alleged, and allowing [plaintiff] an opportunity to
amend [the] complaint would be futile.” Hall v.
Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991)
(quotations omitted). The plaintiff must frame a complaint
that contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Plaintiff is pro se, his “pleadings are to be
construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. If the court can
“reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim
on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so despite
the plaintiff's failure to cite proper legal authority,
… confusion of various legal theories, … poor
syntax and sentence construction, or … unfamiliarity
with pleading requirements.” Id. Further, if
the initial pleading is defective, pro se plaintiffs
should be given a reasonable opportunity to file an amended
pleading, unless amendment would be futile. Reynoldson v.
Shillinger, 907 F.2d 124, 126 (10th Cir. 1990);
Hall, 935 F.2d at 1109.
claims primarily focus on the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. “A cause of action under section 1983
requires the deprivation of a civil right by a
‘person' acting under color of state law.”
McLaughlin v. Bd. of Trustees, 215 F.3d 1168, 1172
(10th Cir. 2000). The plaintiff must allege that each
government official, through the official's own
individual actions, has personally violated the Constitution.
See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir.
1998). There must also be a connection between the official
conduct and the constitutional violation. Fogarty v.
Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008);
Trask, 446 F.3d at 1046.
argues that the Complaint does not state a claim under this
standard. To succeed on a claim brought under § 1983
against an entity defendant such as GEO, the entity must have
“had an ‘official ... policy of some nature ...
that was the direct cause or moving force behind the
constitutional violations.” Dubbs v. Head Start,
Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1216 (10th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff
argues generally that GEO trained the individual Defendants
and is liable under a theory of respondeat superior.
However, § 1983 does not authorize respondeat superior
liability for an entity based on the actions of its
subordinates. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). In addition, general
allegations regarding a deficient training program are
insufficient to hold an entity liable. See Porro v.
Barnes, 624 F.3d 1322, 1328 (10th Cir. 2010). “[A]
plaintiff must identify a specific deficiency that was
obvious and closely related to his injury, so that it might
fairly be said that the official policy or custom was both
deliberately indifferent to his constitutional rights and the
moving force behind his injury.” Id. Because
no such allegations exist, the Complaint fails to state a
§ 1983 claim against GEO. For this reason, the Court
will grant the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 3), in
to its sua sponte screening function, the Court also
finds that the allegations against Burris and Naegele are
deficient. Inmates have a right to access the courts under
the Due Process Clause and the First Amendment. See Smith
v. Maschner, 899 F.2d 940, 947 (10th Cir. 1990);
Love v. Summit County, 776 F.2d 908, 912 (10th Cir.
1985). However, Plaintiff has not explained how Burris and
Naegele prevented him from filing a lawsuit. Prison officials
are not required to effectuate service or forward documents
to the courts, and to the extent that Plaintiff is suing
based on the denial of a grievance, such claims are generally
not cognizable in the Tenth Circuit. See Gray v. GEO
Group, Inc., 2018 WL 1181098, at *6 (10th Cir. March 6,
2018) (noting “there is no independent constitutional
right to state administrative grievance procedures”);
Von Hallcy v. Clements, 519 Fed.Appx. 521, 523-24
(10th Cir. 2013) (same); Boyd v. Werholtz, 443 Fed.Appx. 331,
332 (10th Cir. 2011) (same).
deliberate indifference claims against Williams and Buckney
present a closer call. Prison officials can be liable under
the Eighth Amendment for “deliberate indifference to a
substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate.”
Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994).
“The ‘substantial harm requirement' can be
met by showing ‘lifelong handicap, permanent loss, or
considerable pain.'” Garrett v. Stratman,
254 F.3d 946, 950 (10th Cir. 2001). The subjective component
is met where “the official was subjectively aware of
the risk,' . . . and  the official ‘recklessly
disregard[ed] that risk.'” Wilson v. Falk,
877 F.3d 1204, 1209 (10th Cir. 2017) (quotations omitted). As
to the claim against Williams, the Complaint does not specify