Maughan v. Burnham et al

Filing 15

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER re 5 Complaint. Signed by Judge Dee Benson on 5/3/2017. (blh)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH RYAN DARLEY MAUGHAN, ORDER & MEMORANDUM DECISION Plaintiff, v. DR. BRUCE O. BURNHAM et al., Defendants. 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 claims. A. Deficiencies in Complaint 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 (see below). (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 2 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, 2009). • 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. 3 • 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. ORDER 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 4

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