Bazzoon v. Maye et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ENTERED: Plaintiff's motion to reopen case 9 is granted. The court's order 7 and judgment 8 of September 13, 2016, are vacated. Plaintiff is given twenty-one (21) days to show good cause in writing to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States Senior District Judge, why plaintiff's complaint should not be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Signed by Magistrate Judge David J. Waxse on 09/19/17. Mailed to pro se party James D. Bazzoon by regular mail. (smnd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
JAMES D. BAZZOON,
CASE NO. 16-3151-SAC-DJW
CLAUDE MAYE, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
Plaintiff is an inmate at the United States Penitentiary Coleman II (USP Coleman II), in
Coleman, Florida. He filed this pro se civil rights complaint under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents
of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971). Pursuant to plaintiff’s motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court directed an initial
partial filing fee of $45.00. (Doc. 6). Based on plaintiff’s failure to pay this assessed fee, the
court entered an order and judgment on September 13, 2016, dismissing this case without
prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b). (Docs. 7 & 8).
This matter is before the court on a letter from plaintiff, which the court construes as a
motion to reopen the case. (Doc. 9). In the motion, plaintiff contends that he submitted to USP
Coleman II a request for withdrawal of fees which was rejected, that his prisoner account is or
was “frozen”, and that because he is housed in the special housing unit, he has limited access to
his prisoner account and to mail, which is sometimes delayed up to a week. He encloses with his
motion copies of two letters he sent to the court regarding the delay, as well as a copy of the
form for withdrawal of fees.1 On November 7, 2016, the court received $10.00 from plaintiff’s
prisoner account and to date, he has paid at least $261.40 of the required $350.00 fee.
Accordingly, the court grants plaintiff’s motion and vacates the order and judgment dated
September 13, 2016.
SCREENING UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915
Plaintiff brings two Bivens claims arising out of an assault that occurred on or about
February 23, 2015, while he was confined at the United States Penitentiary Leavenworth (USP
Leavenworth). In the first count, plaintiff brings claims that defendants (all of whom are various
employees at USP Leavenworth) knew he was a former “Tango Blast” gang member but placed
plaintiff in the “mainline” prison population anyway, and therefore violated the Eighth
Amendment when seven Tango Blast members assaulted him. In the second count, plaintiff
claims defendant Maye violated the Eighth Amendment by accepting plaintiff at USP
Leavenworth knowing plaintiff’s status as a former member of Tango Blast, and by adopting an
unwritten policy allowing ex-gang members into the active yard where he was assaulted.
Because plaintiff is a prisoner, the court is required to screen the complaint and dismiss it
or any portion thereof that is frivolous, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or
seeks relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) and (b); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). The court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
But, a pro se litigant’s conclusory allegations without supporting facts “are insufficient to state a
claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a [pro se] plaintiff’s
The court received neither letter.
complaint or construct a legal theory on plaintiff’s behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d
1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997).
Having considered plaintiff’s allegations, the court finds the complaint is subject to
summary dismissal because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state an
Eight Amendment Bivens claim for denying humane conditions of confinement, plaintiff must
allege that each defendant both knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to plaintiff’s health or
safety. Smith v. U.S., 561 F.3d 1090, 1104-5 (10th Cir. 2009). Negligent failure to protect inmates
from assaults by other inmates is not actionable under the Eighth Amendment. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994). The failure of a prison official to protect an inmate from an
attack by other inmates rises to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation only when the
defendant prison official acted with “wanton or obdurate disregard for or deliberate indifference
to” the protection of the life of a prisoner. Rider v. Werholtz, 548 F. Supp. 2d 1188, 1195 (D.
Kan. 2008) (quoting Harris v. Maynard, 843 F.2d 414, 416 (10th Cir. 1988). In other words,
plaintiff must allege that each defendant official both knew of facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm existed, and also that each such official actually
drew the inference. Smith at 1105 (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1249-50 (10th
Cir. 2008)). Finally, in cases such as this which involve claims against multiple government
actors, the complaint must make clear “exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to
provide each individual defendant with fair notice” of the basis of the claims against him or her.
With respect to Count I, plaintiff alleges that he told each defendant about his status as an
ex-gang member. Plaintiff further alleges that at least two “John Doe” defendants told him he
would have no problems on the “mainline”. Plaintiff alleges that he was later assaulted. With
respect to Count II, plaintiff alleges that defendant Maye acted with deliberate indifference when
he accepted plaintiff at USP Leavenworth and when he adopted an unwritten policy of placing
ex-gang members into active population. He alleges that pursuant to this policy, one of the John
Doe defendants was absent from his assigned post when the assault occurred.
Liberally construing the complaint, plaintiff seems to allege that defendants should have
known that placing plaintiff – as an ex-member of “Tango Blast” – on the “mainline” was an
excessive risk to his safety. Similarly, plaintiff seems to allege that defendant Maye should have
known that accepting plaintiff at USP Leavenworth and that having a policy of placing ex-gang
members on the “mainline” were excessive risks to his safety. Plaintiff must do more, however,
than allege that defendants should have known of the risk of harm. See Verdecia v. Adams, 327
F.3d 1171, 1175-6 (10th Cir. 2003). The complaint contains no allegation that any defendant
drew any inference that plaintiff faced a substantial risk of harm. In fact, plaintiff presents
evidence to the contrary – at least two defendants told plaintiff he would have “no problems on
the mainline”. Accordingly, plaintiff fails to meet the deliberate indifference pleading
requirements and therefore fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
IT IS THEREFORE BY THE COURT ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to reopen
case (Doc. 9) be and hereby is granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the court’s order (Doc. 7) and judgment (Doc. 8) of
September 13, 2016, be and hereby are vacated.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff is given twenty-one (21) days to show good
cause in writing to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States Senior District Judge, why
plaintiff’s complaint should not be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief may
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 19th day of September, 2017, in Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ David J. Waxse_______________
David J. Waxse
U.S. Magistrate Judge
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