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Lacy v. Ramsey

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 21, 2017

DAEDERICK CADELL LACY, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIK RAMSEY, et al., Defendants.

          NOTICE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          David J. Waxse U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         Order Plaintiff Daederick Cadell Lacy is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this action should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the El Reno-FCI in El Reno, Oklahoma, the events giving rise to his Complaint took place during his detention at the Butler County Jail in El Dorado, Kansas. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Doc. 5). The Court granted the motion, but because Plaintiff failed to attach his proposed amended complaint to the motion, the Court granted Plaintiff until July 21, 2017, to file his amended complaint. In light of Plaintiff's transfer to El Reno-FCI, the Court extended the deadline to July 31, 2017. Because Plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint by the deadline, the Court will screen Plaintiff's original Complaint at Doc. 1.

         Plaintiff alleges that the law library and the access to the law library at the Butler County Jail are inadequate. Plaintiff claims that on December 25, 2016, and February 5, 2017, he was forced to choose between out of cell exercise time and access to the law library. Plaintiff names as defendants: the United States; Erik Ramsey, Captain at Butler County Jail; and Jeremiah Emrich; Sergeant at Butler County Jail. As Count I, Plaintiff claims a denial of access to the courts. As Count II, Plaintiff claims a violation of his First and Eighth Amendment rights because he was forced to choose between out of cell exercise and access to the law library on the two dates. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, compensatory damages and punitive damages.

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)(citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, ” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

         III. DISCUSSION

         1. Denial of Access to the Courts

         It is well-established that a prison inmate has a constitutional right of access to the courts. However, it is equally well-settled that in order “[t]o present a viable claim for denial of access to courts, . . . an inmate must allege and prove prejudice arising from the defendants' actions.” Peterson v. Shanks,149 F.3d 1140, 1145 (10th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted); Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996) ...


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