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Gaines v. Pharris

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 22, 2014

RONALD KWAME GAINES, Plaintiff(s),
v.
TRINITY PHARRIS, et al., Defendant(s)

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss. (Doc. #20). Plaintiff Ronald Kwame Gaines has filed oppositions (doc. #25, 26) to which the defendant has replied (doc. # 27).

I. Background

Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections at all relevant times.

The complaint alleges that defendant Trinity Pharris violated plaintiff's First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for filing a grievance. (Doc. #1-1). Specifically, plaintiff contends that on April 3, 2012, he filed a grievance stating that incorrect information regarding his criminal history had been submitted to the parole board. (Doc. #1-1). Plaintiff alleges that defendant responded by transferring him to a higher security level which limited his movement and law library access. (Doc. #1-1).

In addition to his retaliation claim, plaintiff originally filed claims alleging that: (1) defendant submitted incorrect information about plaintiff's criminal history to the parole board; (2) he was prevented from participating in programs in which he would earn credits toward an early release; (3) defendant violated the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, and; (4) defendant failed to act upon plaintiff's grievances. (Doc. #1-1).

After screening the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), this court dismissed all claims except for the First Amendment retaliation claim. (Doc. #10). This court also dismissed defendants Nevada Department of Corrections, Dwight Nevens, Sheryll Foster, and Greg Cox, leaving only defendant Pharris remaining in her individual capacity. (Doc. #10).

Defendant now moves to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b).

II. Legal Standard

A court may dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide "[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands "more than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted). "Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citation omitted).

In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 1950. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 1949. Second, the court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 1949.

Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has "alleged - but not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (internal quotations omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

III. Discussion

As an initial matter, the court acknowledges that the complaint was filed pro se and is therefore held to less stringent standards. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (internal quotations and citations omitted). However, " pro se litigants in the ordinary civil case should not ...


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