United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Amended
Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 5).
Also before the Court are Plaintiff's motions to waive
the entire filing fee and commence discovery. (Docs.
10, 11). Having reviewed the matter sua
sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court will deny
the motions and dismiss the Amended Complaint with prejudice.
was previously an inmate at the Curry County Detention Center
(CCDC). At some point he developed a conflict with CCDC's
counselor and chaplain, Donald Sawyer. Plaintiff believed
Sawyer did “irreparable damage to [Plaintiff's]
marriage” and caused his wife to file for divorce.
(Doc. 5 at 2). The circumstances surrounding
the divorce are unclear. In any event, Plaintiff disclosed
his allegations about Sawyer to CCDC officials, but they
allowed Sawyer to “return over and over again.”
Id. Plaintiff concedes he became “very
upset” during Sawyer's visits, which would result
in a disciplinary lock-down. Id.
December of 2018, multiple CCDC guards made disparaging
remarks towards Plaintiff. Sergeant Garcia stated he
“couldn't wait to kick [Plaintiff's]
ass.” (Doc. 5 at 2). Sergeant
Stanfield allegedly called Plaintiff a “snitch”
in front of other men in the B-D housing pod. A prison
official named Lewis told Plaintiff: “I could have your
ass beat for 2 soups and a snickers.” Id. at
same month, Plaintiff moved in with a new cellmate. The
cellmate, who was Sawyer's son-in-law, requested a
broomstick from Officer Rowland, but Rowland refused.
Sergeant Garcia later allowed the cellmate to have a broom.
During a lockdown, the cellmate began to attack Plaintiff.
They fought, and Plaintiff won. When Plaintiff emerged from
his cell, he saw Sawyer in B-D pod. Plaintiff shouted at
Sergeant Garcia to remove Sawyer, but Garcia “remained
standing there watching [while] on the phone.”
(Doc. 5 at 3). Sawyer eventually moved to
liberally, the Amended Complaint raises claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff names
CCDC; Lewis; Stanfield; Garcia; Sawyer; and the
“Counselor Licensing Board.” He seeks over $1.4
million in damages and asks the Court to terminate Defendants
from their employment at CCDC.
Governing Sua Sponte Review
Court has discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis
complaint sua sponte under § 1915(e)(2)
“at any time if … the action … is
frivolous or malicious; [or] fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted.” The Court may also dismiss a
complaint sua sponte 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.” Id.
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. While pro se
pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply
to represented litigants, the Court can overlook the
“failure to cite proper legal authority, …
confusion of various legal theories, … poor syntax and
sentence construction, or … unfamiliarity with
pleading requirements.” Id. However, Plaintiff
must comply with the applicable rules of procedure, and the
Court will not act as his advocate. See Requena v.
Roberts, 893 F.3d 1195, 1205 (10th Cir. 2018).
1983 of Title 42 is the “remedial vehicle for raising
claims based on the violation of [federal] constitutional
rights.” Brown v. Buhman, 822 F.3d 1151, 1161
n. 9 (10th Cir. 2016). “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. See Fogarty v.
Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008).
prison official's failure to protect an inmate from a
known harm may constitute a constitutional violation.”
Hovater v. Robinson, 1 F.3d 1063, 1068 (10th Cir.
1993). See also Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828
(1994) (“A prison official's deliberate
indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to an
inmate violates the Eighth Amendment” of the
Constitution.). To demonstrate a prison official was
deliberately indifferent to a known harm, “the
plaintiff must show both ‘that the official was
subjectively aware of the risk,' … and that the
official ‘recklessly disregard[ed] that
risk.'” Wilson v. Falk, 877 F.3d 1209
(10th Cir. 2017). “In other words, an official must
both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.” Howard v.
Waide, 534 F.3d 1227, 1236 (10th Cir. 2008) (quotations
allegations here demonstrate Plaintiff was generally disliked
by prison officials, but they do not show any particular
Defendant knew about the risk of attack. At most, Plaintiff
alleges Garcia gave the cellmate a broom and that Sawyer was
“near the cell” after the fight. This information
is too general to establish the subjective element of the
deliberate indifference test. See, e.g., Butler v.
Rios, 2017 WL 6803451, at *5 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 30, 2017)
(being aware of a general conflict between groups of inmates
“is not sufficient to demonstrate [d]efendant[s'] .
. . knowledge of a specific, substantial risk of harm to
[p]laintiff.”). Further, even if Plaintiff could
amplify his allegations regarding subjective intent, none of
the pleadings allege he sustained any serious injuries. By
his own admission, he won the fight. See Requena v.
Roberts, 893 F.3d 1195, 1214 (10th Cir. 2018) (inmate
failed to state an Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claim
where “there is no allegation that he suffered any
injuries from th[e] [housing] placement”); 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(e) (noting: “no Federal civil action may
be brought by a prisoner … for mental or emotional
injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of
these reasons, the Complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. The Court will dismiss the