United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CROW U.S. Senior District Judge
brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at
the Sedgwick County Detention Facility in Wichita, Kansas
(“SCDF”). Plaintiff filed a Complaint (Doc. 1),
alleging the following. On March 6, 2017, Plaintiff returned
to his cell after eating breakfast. Plaintiff's cell door
was closed and secured. Five minutes later, another inmate
walked up to Plaintiff's cell door and Defendant Officer
Melendez, after just letting Plaintiff into the cell, let the
other prisoner into Plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff alleges
that Officer Melendez had just witnessed Plaintiff violently
shoving the other prisoner because he had stepped in front of
Plaintiff in the breakfast line. After entering
Plaintiff's cell, the prisoner assaulted Plaintiff and
Plaintiff received injuries, including a laceration requiring
sutures, which were photographed and treated. Plaintiff
alleges the incident was foreseeable and no reasonable person
would let a second prisoner into a single-person cell.
Plaintiff alleges that his cell is located in an
“aggravated pod” which calls for heightened
awareness and security. Plaintiff alleges that the SCDC and
Officer Melendez had a duty of care to protect Plaintiff from
foreseeable harm by another inmate. Plaintiff names as
defendants: the Wichita Detention Center; Head Sheriff Jeff
Easter; and Detention Officer (fnu) Melendez. Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages and punitive damages.
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
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. §
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).
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 ‘entitlement 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.
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).
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).
Complaint names the Wichita Detention Center as a defendant.
Prison and jail facilities are not proper defendants because
none is a “person” subject to suit for money
damages under § 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dept. of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66, 71 (1989) (neither state
nor state agency is a “person” which can be sued
under § 1983); Davis v. Bruce, 215 F.R.D. 612,
618 (D. Kan. 2003), aff'd in relevant part, 129
F. App'x 406, 408 (10th Cir. 2005). Plaintiff's
request for money damages against the facility is subject to
Failure to Protect
and jail officials, as well as municipal entities that employ
them, cannot absolutely guarantee the safety of their
prisoners. Nonetheless, they have a constitutional duty to
take reasonable steps to protect the prisoners' safety
and bodily integrity.” Wright v. Collison, 651
F. App'x 745, 748 (10th Cir. 2016) (unpublished) (quoting
Cox v. Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231, 1247-48 (10th Cir.
2015)). Because Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, his claims
are governed by the Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth
Amendment. Wright, 651 F. App'x at 748 (citing
Lopez v. LeMaster, 172 F.3d 756 n.2 (10th Cir.
1999)). Even so, the Court applies an analysis identical to
that applied in Eighth Amendment cases brought under §
establish a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim for failure to
protect an inmate from harm by other inmates, the plaintiff
must show that he [was] incarcerated under conditions posing
a substantial risk of serious harm, the objective component,
and that the prison official was deliberately indifferent to
his safety, the subjective component.” Id.
(citing Smith v. Cummings, 445 F.3d 1254, 1258 (10th
Cir. 2006) (brackets and internal quotation marks omitted)).
For the subjective component, “the plaintiff bears the
burden to show that the defendants responded in an
‘objectively unreasonable manner'-that is, they
‘knew of ways to reduce ...