Juwor v. Larson
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ENTERED: Plaintiff is granted until March 9, 2018, in which to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why Plaintiff's Complaint should not be dismissed. Signed by U.S. Senior District Judge Sam A. Crow on 02/09/18. Mailed to pro se party Bontey Juwor by regular mail. (smnd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
CASE NO. 17-3218-SAC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
Plaintiff Bontey Juwor is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the
Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this action should not be dismissed
due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff’s Complaint that are discussed herein.
I. Nature of the Matter before the Court
Plaintiff alleges that on October 30, 2017, while he was housed at the Shawnee County
Jail in Topeka, Kansas, he asked Correctional Officer Loni Larson why they were on lockdown
every time she was working. Larson replied “not my monkey, not my jail.” Plaintiff states that
he was highly offended by Officer Larson’s racially insensitive comment toward him. Plaintiff
seeks $100,000 in damages.
II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a
governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised
claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)–(2).
“To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by
the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988)(citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A
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). In addition, the
court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d
910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however
true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief,” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).
A pro se litigant’s “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are
insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106,
1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[A] plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of
a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint’s “factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court,
a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant
did it; how the defendant’s action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the
plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d
1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round
out a plaintiff’s complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff’s behalf.” Whitney v. New
Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).
The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Twombly and
Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v.
Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States,
561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the
complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at
1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the
line from conceivable to plausible.’” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in
this context does not mean “likely to be true,” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in
a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it
innocent,” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 127 S.
Ct. at 1974).
Plaintiff’s claim is subject to dismissal because Plaintiff has not adequately alleged a
federal constitutional violation. “Mere verbal threats or harassment do not rise to the level of a
constitutional violation unless they create ‘terror of instant and unexpected death.’” Alavarez v.
Gonzales, 155 F. App’x 393, 396 (10th Cir. 2005) (citing Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d
1518, 1524 (10th Cir. 1992)); see also McBride v. Deer, 240 F.3d 1287, 1291 n.3 (10th Cir.
2001) (“[A]cts or omissions resulting in an inmate being subjected to nothing more than threats
and verbal taunts do not violate the Eighth Amendment.”); Ragland v. Romer, 73 F.3d 374 (10th
Cir.), cert. denied, 518 U.S. 1025 (1996) (“Courts have consistently held that acts or omissions
resulting in an inmate being subjected to nothing more than threats and verbal taunts do not
violate the Eighth Amendment.”). Plaintiff’s allegations do not suggest a show of deadly force,
thus failing to create “terror of instant and unexpected death.”
Plaintiff’s request for compensatory damages is barred by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), because
Plaintiff has failed to allege a physical injury. Section 1997e(e) provides in pertinent part that
“[n]o Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other
correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e).
IV. Response Required
For the reasons stated herein, it appears that this action is subject to dismissal in its
entirety for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff is therefore required to show good cause why his
Complaint should not be dismissed for the reasons stated herein.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT that Plaintiff is granted until
March 9, 2018, in which to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United
States District Judge, why Plaintiff’s Complaint should not be dismissed for the reasons stated
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated in Topeka, Kansas on this 9th day of February, 2018.
S/ Sam A. Crow
Sam A. Crow
U.S. Senior District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?