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Strong v. State

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 4, 2017

STIG STRONG, Plaintiff,
STATE OF NEVADA, Defendants.


         Plaintiff, who is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (“NDOC”), has submitted a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1, 1-1). The matter of the filing fee shall be temporarily deferred. The Court now screens Plaintiff's civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         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). Pro se pleadings, however, must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, 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, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a federal court must dismiss a prisoner's claim, if “the allegation of poverty is untrue, ” or if the action “is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the court applies the same standard under § 1915 when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint or an amended complaint. When a court dismisses a complaint under § 1915(e), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). 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 the court construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955, 957 (9th Cir. 1996). 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). While the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) does not require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is insufficient. Id.

         Additionally, 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. “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” 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.

         Finally, all or part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may therefore 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).


         In the complaint, Plaintiff sues multiple defendants for events that took place while Plaintiff was incarcerated in Carson City, Nevada. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1). Plaintiff sues Defendants State of Nevada[1], Carson City Sheriff's Department, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong, Sheriff Deputy James Surratt, and Dr. Joe (psychiatric provider). (Id. at 1-2). Plaintiff alleges one count and seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 4, 11).

         The complaint alleges the following: Plaintiff served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps. (Id. at 4). After being released from inpatient post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) treatment in Virginia and trying to make it home to Nevada, Deputy Surratt arrested Plaintiff after Plaintiff corrected Surratt for “being reckless with his pistol” and “informing the deputy of common sense weapon safety rules.” (Id.) On November 20, 2014, Surratt “stole” Plaintiff's legal Glock 19 and jailed Plaintiff. (Id.) Due to the trauma involving irresponsible weapons safety in the armed forces, Plaintiff sustained injuries of PTSD and “had to do the right thing and correct” Surratt. (Id.)

         While in the Carson City jail, Plaintiff immediately asked for help for his PTSD and for his PTSD medication which jail officials deprived him of. (Id.) In January 2015, Sergeant Fry and two other deputies responded to Plaintiff by shoving Plaintiff's face into another inmate's fecal matter in a padded booking cell. (Id. at 5).

         The first time Plaintiff saw Judge Armstrong, Plaintiff asked for PTSD help. (Id.) Plaintiff's public defender followed through with her threat to call Plaintiff incompetent if Plaintiff did not plea to her “deal” with the district attorney's office. (Id.) The public defender's plea deal required Plaintiff to plead guilty to a crime he was innocent of. (Id.) Judge Armstrong ordered “no bail” until Dr. Joe could complete a competency evaluation. (Id.) Dr. Joe told the judge that he had met with Plaintiff even though he had not. (Id.) Dr. Joe suggested “no bail” with a “psych hold” and did not provide any PTSD help. (Id.) Jail officials kept Plaintiff in custody on a “no bail hold” without any PTSD help. (Id.)

         While in jail, Plaintiff had to defend himself from an inmate who had hit him. (Id. at 6). For defending himself, the authorities charged him with a class B felony (battery on a prisoner in custody). (Id.) Plaintiff did receive a competency evaluation at Lake's Crossing. (Id.) The doctors at Lake's Crossing stated that, “at no time did [Plaintiff] seem incompetent.” (Id.) During his incarceration, Plaintiff repeatedly asked Judges Armstrong and Russell to permit PTSD help. (Id.) The only relief Plaintiff received was a “forced plea deal to plead guilty to charges of which he was innocent” or “risk unlimited incarceration without PTSD help.” (Id.) After pleading to the forced deal and while on probation, Plaintiff was accepted into the Wounded Warrior Project's Care Network which had excellent PTSD treatment. (Id. at 7). The director of the program stated that Plaintiff needed a high level of care that the State of Nevada continues to deprive Plaintiff of. (Id.) In prison, Plaintiff is on suicide watch due to concerns for his safety. (Id.) The State of Nevada is neglecting Plaintiff's medical needs. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges claims for Eighth Amendment inadequate medical care and Fourteenth Amendment false imprisonment. (Id. at 4).

         A. ...

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