Maughan v. Burnham et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER re 5 Complaint. Signed by Judge Dee Benson on 5/3/2017. (blh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
RYAN DARLEY MAUGHAN,
ORDER & MEMORANDUM DECISION
DR. BRUCE O. BURNHAM et al.,
Case No. 2:16-CV-458-DB
District Judge Dee Benson
Plaintiff, inmate Ryan Darley Maughan, filed this pro se civil rights suit, see 42 U.S.C.S.
§ 1983 (2017), in forma pauperis, see 28 id. § 1915. The Court now screens his Complaint and
orders Plaintiff to file an amended complaint to cure deficiencies before further pursuing his
A. Deficiencies in Complaint
(a) by naming “Utah Department of Corrections” as a defendant, effectively improperly
names "State of Utah" as a defendant, though there is no showing that it has waived
its governmental immunity (see below).
(b) appears to involve claims that are past the statute of limitations for a civil-rights case
(c) is perhaps supplemented with claims from a letter filed on May 1, 2017, which claims
should be included in an amended complaint, if filed, and will not be treated further
by the Court unless properly included.
(d) has claims apparently regarding current confinement; however, the complaint was
apparently not drafted with the help of contract attorneys.
B. Instructions to Plaintiff
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to contain "(1) a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .; (2) a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the
relief sought." Rule 8's requirements mean to guarantee "that defendants enjoy fair notice of
what the claims against them are and the grounds upon which they rest." TV Commc'ns Network,
Inc. v ESPN, Inc., 767 F. Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991).
Pro se litigants are not excused from complying with these minimal pleading demands.
"This is so because a pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts
surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine
whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106,
1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Moreover, it is improper for the Court "to assume the role of advocate for
a pro se litigant." Id. Thus, the Court cannot "supply additional facts, [or] construct a legal
theory for plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d
1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989).
Plaintiff should consider the following points before refiling his complaint. First, the
revised complaint must stand entirely on its own and shall not refer to, or incorporate by
reference, any portion of the original complaint. See Murray v. Archambo, 132 F.3d 609, 612
(10th Cir. 1998) (stating amended complaint supersedes original).
Second, the complaint must clearly state what each defendant--typically, a named
government employee--did to violate Plaintiff's civil rights. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d
1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976) (stating personal participation of each named defendant is
essential allegation in civil-rights action). "To state a claim, a complaint must 'make clear
exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom.'" Stone v. Albert, No. 08-2222, slip op. at 4
(10th Cir. July 20, 2009) (unpublished) (emphasis in original) (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1250 (10th Cir. 2008)).
Third, Plaintiff cannot name an individual as a defendant based solely on his or her
supervisory position. See Mitchell v. Maynard, 80 F.2d 1433, 1441 (10th Cir. 1996) (stating
supervisory status alone does not support § 1983 liability).
Fourth, "denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of
constitutional rights alleged by plaintiff, does not establish personal participation under § 1983."
Gallagher v. Shelton, No. 09-3113, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25787, at *11 (10th Cir. Nov. 24,
• State Immunity
Regarding claims that have been made against the State or its subdivisions, generally, the
Eleventh Amendment prevents "suits against a state unless it has waived its immunity or
consented to suit, or if Congress has validly abrogated the state's immunity." Ray v. McGill, No.
CIV-06-0334-HE, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51632, at *8 (W.D. Okla. July 26, 2006)
(unpublished) (citing Lujan v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 60 F.3d 1511, 1522 (10th Cir. 1995);
Eastwood v. Dep't of Corrs., 846 F.2d 627, 631 (10th Cir. 1988)). Plaintiff asserts no basis for
determining that the State has waived its immunity or that it has been abrogated by Congress.
Because any claims against the State appear to be precluded by Eleventh Amendment immunity,
the Court believes it has no subject-matter jurisdiction to consider them. See id. at *9.
• Statute of Limitations
"Utah's four-year residual statute of limitations . . . governs suits brought under section
1983.” Fratus v. DeLand, 49 F.3d 673, 675 (10th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff's claims accrued when
"'facts that would support a cause of action are or should be apparent.'” Id. at 675 (citation
omitted. Some of the circumstances underlying these claims appear to have occurred more than
four years before this case was filed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
(1) Plaintiff must within thirty days cure the Complaint’s deficiencies noted above.
(2) The Clerk's Office shall mail Plaintiff a copy of the Pro Se Litigant Guide with a
form complaint and habeas petition for Plaintiff to use should he choose to file
another amended complaint or a habeas-corpus petition.
(3) If Plaintiff fails to timely cure the above deficiencies according to this Order's
instructions, this action will be dismissed without further notice.
DATED this 3rd day of May, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
JUDGE DEE BENSON
United States District Court
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