United States District Court, D. Nevada
CLIFFORD J. SCHUETT, Plaintiff,
CEO-CCA-CORRECTIONAL CORPORATION OF AMERICA et al., Defendants.
JENNIFER DORSEY, District Judge.
Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), who has submitted a civil rights complaint purportedly under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, a motion for appointment of counsel, a motion for an order granting a subpoena of evidence, a motion for preliminary injunction, a motion for temporary restraining order, a motion for protective order, a motion to compel, and a motion to petition. Docs. 1, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16. The court now screens plaintiff's civil rights complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and adjudicates all pending motions.
I. SCREENING STANDARD
Federal courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). In addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires a federal court to dismiss a prisoner's claim if it "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); accord FED. R. CIV. PROC. 12(b)(6).
Dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper only if it is clear that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle him or her to relief. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999). In making this determination, the court takes as true all allegations of material fact stated in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1996). A reviewing court should "begin by identifying pleadings [allegations] that, because they are no more than mere conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported with factual allegations." Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. The plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
Although allegations of a pro se complainant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988), all or part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may be dismissed sua sponte if the prisoner's claims lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact. This includes claims based on legal conclusions that are untenable (e.g., claims against defendants who are immune from suit or claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist), as well as claims based on fanciful factual allegations (e.g., fantastic or delusional scenarios). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989); see also McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991). If it is clear from the face of the complaint that any deficiencies could not be cured by amendment, leave to amend is not required. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).
II. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT
In the complaint, plaintiff sues multiple defendants for events that took place while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Nevada Southern Detention Center ("NSDC") in Pahrump, Nevada. Doc. 1 at 2. Plaintiff sues defendants CEO-CCA-Correctional Corporation of America and Warden Collins. Id. at 2. Plaintiff alleges one claim and seeks millions of dollars in monetary damages. Id. at 2, 5.
The complaint alleges the following: On June 25, 2014, Plaintiff was incarcerated at NSDC. Id. at 2. Plaintiff is a paraplegic paralyzed from the waist down and is confined to a wheelchair. Id. Plaintiff is housed in a dormitory at the prison and is required to sleep in a metal bunk bed that has no safety devices. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff has to move from his wheelchair to the bed, but the bed has no hand holds or safety bars. Id. at 3. Plaintiff has no use of his legs, and his right arm is partially paralyzed. Id. Over a 30-day period, Plaintiff has fallen five times while trying to transfer himself from his wheelchair to his bed. Id. He has had three injuries from those falls including damages to his right shoulder. Id. Plaintiff has written four grievances to Collins to get his bed fixed with a safety bar, but the warden has refused. Id. Plaintiff's life is in danger with the unsafe bed, and defendants have been deliberately indifferent and negligent. Id. Defendants did supply plaintiff with another inmate as a helper, but plaintiff claims she is never around to help. Id. at 4.
As an initial matter, the court construes the complaint as seeking relief under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), rather than under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Bivens established that "compensable injury to a constitutionally protected interest [by federal officials alleged to have acted under color of federal law] could be vindicated by a suit for damages invoking the general federal-question jurisdiction of the federal courts." Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 486 (1978).
NSDC is a facility owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America pursuant to an agreement with the BOP. In Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61 (2001), the Supreme Court declined to extend Bivens to permit recovery against a private corporation operating a halfway house under contract with the BOP. Id. at 63. The Supreme Court declined to recognize a federal remedy at law for alleged constitutional deprivations committed by private entities acting under color of federal law. Id. at 66. Thus, plaintiff cannot state a civil-rights claim against CEO-CCA-Correctional Corporation of America. The court dismisses all claims against defendant CEO-CCA-Correctional Corporation of America with prejudice, as the failure of these claims as a matter of law renders amendment futile.
The Supreme Court has also recognized that a prisoner cannot bring a Bivens action against an employee of a private entity to recover for damages for an alleged Eighth Amendment violation. Minneci v. Pollard, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 617, 626 (2012). In Minneci, the Supreme Court held that:
[W]here... a federal prisoner seeks damages from privately employed personnel working at a privately operated federal prison, where the conduct allegedly amounts to a violation of the Eighth Amendment, and where that conduct is of a kind that typically falls within the scope of traditional state tort law..., the prisoner must seek a remedy under state tort law. We cannot imply a Bivens remedy in such a case.
Id. Accordingly, the court dismisses all claims against defendant Collins with prejudice from this case, as the legal invalidity of this theory renders amendment futile. As all claims have ...