Carver v. Department of Corrections et al

Filing 6

OPINION AND ORDER by District Judge John F. Heil, III: Plaintiff is directed to file an amended complaint on the Court's form, no later than May 31, 2022. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is DISMISSED from this action and may not be named as a defendant in the amended complaint.(acg, Deputy Clerk)

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6:22-cv-00103-JFH-JAR Document 6 Filed in ED/OK on 05/10/22 Page 1 of 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA RODNEY L. CARVER, Plaintiff, v. No. 22-CV-103-JFH-JAR DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants. OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff is a pro se prisoner in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (“DOC”) who is incarcerated at John Lilley Correctional Center (“JLCC”) in Boley, Oklahoma. He filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief for alleged constitutional violations at JLCC. Dkt. No. 1. The defendants are the DOC and four JLCC officials: Warden Terry Tuggle (“Tuggle”), Chief of Security Mr. Britt (“Britt”), Lt. Hammon (“Hammon), and Sgt. Driscoll (“Driscoll”). Plaintiff alleges he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and excessive force when Driscoll harassed him and later handcuffed him and pulled on his headset. Plaintiff also alleges that Driscoll called him “a bitch & punk” in front of other officers and tried to break his left wrist. Hammon allegedly saw Plaintiff’s injury. Dkt. No. 1 at 5. In the process of taking Plaintiff to the “cool-off cage,” Driscoll allegedly shoved Plaintiff into the gate pole at the entrance to the cage and then tried to break Plaintiff’s hand when he took off the handcuff. According to Plaintiff, Sgt. Bentley (“Bentley”) saw Driscoll’s actions and told him that he was using excessive force and that that an incident report would need to be completed on Driscoll. Plaintiff alleges that 6:22-cv-00103-JFH-JAR Document 6 Filed in ED/OK on 05/10/22 Page 2 of 5 he told Hammon he felt threatened by Driscoll and did not want to remain on Unit 2-H with Driscoll. Plaintiff alleges Hammon moved him to Unit No. 4 that night. Id. at 6. After review of the Complaint, the Court finds Plaintiff must file an amended civil rights complaint on the Court’s form, as set forth below. Screening/Dismissal Standards Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The pleading standard for all civil actions was articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint also must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555-56. “So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief,” the cause of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558. The court applies the same standard of review for dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) that is employed for Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007). 2 6:22-cv-00103-JFH-JAR Document 6 Filed in ED/OK on 05/10/22 Page 3 of 5 A pro se plaintiff’s complaint must be broadly construed under this standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The generous construction given to the pro se litigant’s allegations, however, “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Notwithstanding a pro se plaintiff’s various mistakes or misunderstandings of legal doctrines or procedural requirements, “if a court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so . . . .” Id. A reviewing court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotations and citations omitted). 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). Amended Complaint No later than May 31, 2022, Plaintiff must file an amended complaint on this Court’s form. The amended complaint must set forth the full name of each person he is suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is responsible for providing sufficient information for service of process. See Lee v. Armontrout, 991 F.2d 487, 489 (8th Cir. 1993) (plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis and pro se had responsibility to provide correct names and proper addresses for service of process). Further, the names in the caption of the amended complaint must be identical to those contained in the body of the amended complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). 3 6:22-cv-00103-JFH-JAR Document 6 Filed in ED/OK on 05/10/22 Page 4 of 5 Plaintiff has named the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as a defendant. This agency, however, is entitled to dismissal under the Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment bars suits in federal court against a state, regardless of the relief sought. When a state agency is named as a defendant, the Eleventh Amendment continues to bar the action “if the state is the real, substantial party in interest.” Oklahoma has not consented to be sued in federal court, see Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 152.1, and § 1983 does not abrogate states’ sovereign immunity, see Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). Because the Eleventh Amendment involves sovereign immunity, the official-capacity claims are dismissed “without prejudice” rather than “with prejudice.” Rural Water Sewer & Solid Waste Mgmt., Dist. No. 1, Logan County, Okla. v. Guthrie, 654 F.3d 1058, 1069 n.9 (10th Cir. 2011). Therefore, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is DISMISSED from this action and may not be named as a defendant in the amended complaint. Plaintiff has set forth allegations concerning Defendants Driscoll and Hammon, but he has not explained the involvement of the remaining defendants. The amended complaint must include a short and plain statement of when (with full date) and how each named defendant violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and show that Plaintiff is entitled to relief from each named defendant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Plaintiff also shall identify a specific constitutional basis for each claim. See id. Plaintiff is admonished that simply alleging that a defendant is an employee or supervisor of a state agency is inadequate to state a claim. Plaintiff must go further and state how the named defendant’s personal participation violated his constitutional rights. The “denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of constitutional rights alleged by the plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983.” Gallagher v. Shelton, 587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). The Court only will consider claims “based 4 6:22-cv-00103-JFH-JAR Document 6 Filed in ED/OK on 05/10/22 Page 5 of 5 upon the violation of a plaintiff’s personal rights, and not the rights of someone else.” Archuleta v. McShan, 897 F.2d 495, 497 (10th Cir. 1990). An amended complaint completely replaces the original complaint and renders the original complaint of no legal effect. See Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991); Gilles v. United States, 906 F.2d 1386, 1389 (10th Cir. 1990). See also Local Civil Rule 9.2(c). The amended complaint must include all claims and supporting material to be considered by the Court. See Local Civil Rule 9.2(c). It must be complete in itself, including exhibits, and may not reference or attempt to incorporate material from the original complaint or exhibits. Id. It may not include defendants or claims that are dismissed by this Order. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5.2(a), the amended complaint must be clearly legible, only one side of the paper may be used, and additional sheets of paper shall have margins of no less than one (1) inch on the top, bottom, and sides. The Court Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff a form for filing an amended complaint. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that: 1. Plaintiff is directed to file an amended complaint on the Court’s form, no later than May 31, 2022. 2. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is DISMISSED from this action and may not be named as a defendant in the amended complaint. 3. The Court Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff a copy of the form for filing an amended civil rights complaint in this Court. 4. Failure to comply with this Order will result in dismissal of this action without further notice. Dated this 10th day of May 2022. 5 ____________________________________ JOHN F. HEIL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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