Quintana-Speas v. TCDC Torrance County Detention Center
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER dismissing 11 MOTION to Proceed under 28 U.S.C. 1915, denying 10 MOTION to Appoint Counsel and 9 MOTION to Consolidate Cases; dismissing Complaint 1 ; plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint within 30 days of entry of this order by Chief Judge M. Christina Armijo. (vv)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
No. CV 17-00230 MCA/SCY
TCDC TORRANCE COUNTY
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THIS MATTER is before the Court under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) on the Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act filed by Plaintiff Carlito QuintanaSpeas on February 3, 2017 and transferred to this Court from the Eastern District of California
on February 10, 2017. (Doc. 1). The Court will dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim
on which relief can be granted, but will grant Plaintiff Quintana-Speas the opportunity to file an
I. PLAINTIFF’S PENDING MOTIONS
A. Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint Counsel: Plaintiff has filed a Motion: To Appoint
Legal Counsel. (Doc. 10). There is no right to appointment of counsel in a civil rights case.
Instead, the decision whether to request assistance of counsel rests in the sound discretion of the
Court. Beaudry v. Corrections Corp. of America, 331 F.3d 1164, 1169 (10th Cir.2003);
MacCuish v. United States, 844 F.2d 733, 735 (10th Cir.1988). In determining whether to
appoint counsel, the district court should consider the merits of the litigant's claims, the nature
and complexity of the factual and legal issues, and the litigant's ability to investigate the facts
and to present his claims. Hill v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 393 F.3d 1111, 1115 (10th
Cir.2004). The Court has reviewed the complaint and subsequent filings in light of the foregoing
factors. Plaintiff appears to understand the issues in the case and to be representing himself in an
intelligent and capable manner. See Lucero v. Gunter, 52 F.3d 874, 878 (10th Cir. 1995).
Accordingly, the Court will deny the Motion for Appointment of Counsel.
B. Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate: Plaintiff Quintana-Speas has also filed a motion
to consolidate this case with Smith, et al., v. Corrections Corporation of America, et al., No. CV
16-1201 MCA/GJF. (Doc. 9). Consolidation of actions is governed by the provisions of Fed. R.
Civ. P. 42(a). Rule 42(a) provides that “[i]f actions before the court involve a common question
of law or fact, the court may ... consolidate the actions.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a)(2). The decision
whether to consolidate actions involving common questions of law or fact is committed to the
sound discretion of the court. Shump v. Balka, 574 F.2d 1341, 1344 (10th Cir.1978).
In deciding whether to grant a motion to consolidate, the court should initially consider
whether the cases to be consolidated involve a common question of law or fact. If there is a
common question, the court should weigh the interests of judicial convenience in consolidating
the cases against the delay, confusion, and prejudice that consolidation might cause. See Servants
of the Paraclete v. Great American Insurance Co., 866 F. Supp. 1560, 1572 (D.N.M. 1994). The
purpose of Rule 42(a) is to give the court broad discretion to decide how cases on its docket are
to be administered to promote expedition and economy while providing justice to the parties.
Where consolidation will not promote convenience and economy in case administration, the
Court properly denies a motion to consolidate. Shump v. Balka, 574 F.2d at 1344.
The claims in this case involve different named defendants than the claims in CV1601201, and the incident allegedly giving rise to this case occurred on November 14, 2016, after
the Complaint in CV 16-01201 was filed. (Doc. 1 at 3). Plaintiff’s Motion does not claim that
the two cases involve common questions of law or fact. See Doc. 9. Further, even if the legal
theories Plaintiff attempts to advance are similar, consolidation would not promote expedition
and economy in the administration of the cases. To the contrary, consolidation would result in
unnecessary confusion and would be prejudicial to the administration of justice due to the
different factual circumstances and time-frames underlying the two cases. The Court will deny
the Motion to Consolidate. Shump v. Balka, 574 F.2d at 1344.
C. Plaintiff’s Second Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis: Last, Plaintiff
Quintana-Speas has filed a second Application to Proceed in the District Court Without
Prepayment of Fees or Costs (Doc. 11).
Plaintiff’s first Application to Proceed in forma
pauperis (Doc. 2) was granted by the Court on February 24, 2017 (See Doc. 6). The Court will
dismiss his second Application as redundant and unnecessary.
II. PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT FAILS TO STATE A CLAIM
Plaintiff Quintana-Speas is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. 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.
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (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 555.
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. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The authority granted by § 1915 permits the court the unusual power to pierce
the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and 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 the 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).
The only named Defendant in this case is the Torrance County Detention Center. The
Torrance County Detention Center is not a “person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and, therefore, there is no remedy against the Torrance County Detention Center under § 1983.
The claims against the Torrance County Detention Center fail to state a claim for relief and
Torrance County Detention Center will be dismissed as a party to this proceeding. Will v.
Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 63-64 (1989).
Plaintiff Quintana-Speas does not identify any individual officials as defendants. To state
a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must assert acts by government officials
acting under color of law that result in a deprivation of rights secured by the United States
Constitution. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). There must be a
connection between official conduct and violation of a constitutional right. Conduct that is not
connected to a constitutional violation is not actionable under Section 1983. See Trask v. Franco,
446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 1998).
Further, a civil rights action against a public official or entity may not be based solely on
a theory of respondeat superior liability for the actions of co-workers or subordinates. A plaintiff
must plead that each government official, through the official’s own individual actions, has
violated the Constitution. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009).
Plaintiff must allege some personal involvement by an identified official in the alleged
constitutional violation to succeed under § 1983. Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th
Cir. 2008). In a Section 1983 action, it is particularly important that a plaintiff’s complaint
“make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each individual with
fair notice as to the basis of the claim against him or her.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242,
1249-50 (10th Cir. 2008) (emphasis in the original).
In his Statement of Claim, Quintana-Speas makes the following allegations:
“I was subjected to mandatory anal inspection (squat cough on segregated
inmates before rec. showers, court and movement within the facility while
in restraints and under supervision and escort. I was humiliated degraded
on a daily basis. My right to privacy was severely violated on a daily basis,
which caused mental distress and severe grief.”
(Doc. 1 at 3, ¶ IV).
Quintana-Speas does not name any individual as a defendant, nor do his allegations
specify what individual he claims allegedly violated his constitutional rights. Robbins v.
Oklahoma, 519 F.3d at 1249-50. The Complaint fails to state a claim for relief against any
individual official. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The Court will dismiss the Complaint and will
grant Quintana-Speas the opportunity to file an amended complaint specifying individuals and
the individualized actions that he claims resulted in violation of a constitutional right. Hall v.
Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1110, nt. 3 (pro se litigants are to be given reasonable opportunity to
remedy defects in their pleadings).
IT IS ORDERED;
(1) Plaintiff Carlito Quintana-Speas’ Motion: To Appoint Legal Counsel (Doc. 10) and
Motion to Consolidate (Doc. 9) are DENIED;
(2) Plaintiff’s Application to Proceed in the District Court Without Prepayment of Fees
or Costs (Doc. 11) is DISMISSED; and
(3) the Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act filed by Plaintiff Carlito Quintana-Speas
(Doc. 1) is DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim on which relief can be
granted and Plaintiff Quintana-Speas is granted leave to file an amended complaint within 30
days of entry of this Order. If an amended complaint, identifying specific individual defendants
and individualized actions that allegedly violated Quintana-Speas’s constitutional rights, is not
filed within 30 days, the Court may dismiss this action with prejudice.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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