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Woods v. Reyes

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 10, 2019

LEONARD WOODS, Plaintiffs,
v.
L. REYES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          C. W. HOFFMAN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Presently before the court is plaintiff Leonard Woods' application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1), filed on July 14, 2017. Also before the court is Woods' civil rights complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. (ECF No. 1-1).) Plaintiff is a pro se inmate in the custody of the Clark County Detention Center (“CCDC”). Woods submitted the declaration required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) showing an inability to prepay fees and costs or give security for them. Wood's request to proceed in forma pauperis therefore will be granted. The court now screens Wood's complaint (ECF No. 1-1) as required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         I. ANALYSIS

         A. Screening Standard for Pro Se Prisoner Claims

         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). In addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A, the Prison Litigation Reform Act 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). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege “(1) the defendants acting under color of state law (2) deprived plaintiffs of rights secured by the Constitution or federal statutes.” Williams v. California, 764 F.3d 1002, 1009 (9th Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted).

         Dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2) incorporates the standard for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To survive § 1915 review, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court liberally construes pro se complaints and may only dismiss them “if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys. Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). Although 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. Unless it is clear the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured through amendment, a pro se plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with notice regarding the complaint's deficiencies. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         B. Screening the Complaint

         Plaintiff sues Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”) officers and detectives, L. Reyes, T. Striegel, H. Haynes, T. Swartz, R. Wilson, and B. Embrey for allegedly withholding evidence favorable to his defense. Plaintiff also sues CCDC's Correctional Officers and Kitchen Staff. Plaintiff seeks $200, 000 in damages from the LVMPD officers, and $500, 000 in compensatory damages from CCDC.

         1. Count One

         Plaintiff's first claim alleges that LVMPD officers withheld evidence favorable to his defense, and that they failed to properly investigate allegations prior to plaintiff's arrest. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that on July 17, 2015, officers L. Reyes and T. Striegel viewed D. Leal's cellular phone and saw sexually explicit material, but failed to report their findings.[1]Plaintiff further claims that officers failed to properly investigate, because such an investigation would prove that Leal's statements were false, that plaintiff was not transient, and that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for J. Jones.[2] Plaintiff also alleges that officers V. Haynes and T. Swartz on August 5, 2015, failed to provide an official police report, and withheld information pertaining to plaintiff's request for counsel. Plaintiff further alleges that Swartz and Haynes falsely reported that plaintiff was involved in an incident, despite body and dash camera footage proving otherwise. Lastly, plaintiff alleges that on August 6, 2015, LVMPD detectives B. Embry and R. Wilson withheld that plaintiff requested a lawyer and did not wish to continue speaking with them. Plaintiff further alleges that Embry and Wilson provided forged and altered statements in their report. Plaintiff also alleges that Embry and Wilson failed to preserve evidence and failed to fully investigate.

         Plaintiff's complaint does not include any other factual allegations regarding the arrest or the status of LVMPD's investigation. The court is unable to determine whether there is an ongoing criminal proceeding or whether the circumstances described resulted in plaintiff's conviction. Even liberally construing the complaint, the court cannot evaluate whether plaintiff's complaint states a cognizable claim for which he may be entitled to relief, absent additional factual allegations regarding the underlying case. The court will therefore dismiss plaintiff's complaint without prejudice for the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

         2. Count Two

         In his second claim, plaintiff alleges that CCDC's correctional officers and kitchen staff expose him to sexual degradation, humiliation, illness and disease. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that correctional officers unnecessarily and frequently subject him to cavity searches. Plaintiff further alleges that he suffers daily exposure to hepatitis, botulism, and other diseases from the dirty dishwater on meal trays. He further alleges that he, on multiple occasions, found pieces of metal, plastic, teeth, fingernails and hair in meals. Lastly, plaintiff claims that he has experienced food ...


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