United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Crow, U.S. District Senior Judge.
plaintiff Caleb Kanatzar, a pretrial detainee at the Shawnee
County Department of Corrections (“SCDC”), in
Topeka, Kansas, filed a 29-page complaint alleging 10 claims
for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He named as
defendants, Brian Cole, as director of SCDC; Timothy Phelps,
an SCDC officer; Captain Rucker, an SCDC officer; and Mary
Fletcher, a food services supervisor at SCDC. ECF# 1. This
complaint read like a summary of isolated administrative
grievances against SCDC officials, and it was largely
deficient in alleging constitutional violations. The court
applied the required screening standards, dismissing some of
the claims and requiring the plaintiff to file an amended
complaint upon court-approved forms. This amended complaint
was to cure all pleading deficiencies noted by the court, and
it was to incorporate all the plaintiff's claims
remaining from the original complaint and any claims that the
plaintiff intended to pursue by his motion to amend. In
receipt of Mr. Kanatzar's amended complaint, the court
applies the screening standards set out below.
Screening of Prisoner Complaints
must screen prisoners' complaints which seek relief
against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of
a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The
screening court must dismiss the entire complaint or any part
of it, if it “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or . . .
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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). In addressing a claim
brought under § 1983, the analysis begins by identifying
the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989). The
validity of the claim then must be judged by reference to the
specific constitutional standard which governs that right.
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).
same standard used for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motions is used
for § 1915 dismissals, and this includes the newer
language and meaning taken from Twombly and its
“plausibility” determination. 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), cert. denied, 558 U.S.
1148 (2010). 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). The
Tenth Circuit has made clear, “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, at Arapahoe County Justice
Center, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007).
Kanatzar's amended complaint narrows his claims to three
counts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the same four
defendants, Brian Cole, SCDC Director, Timothy Phelps, SCDC
Major, Captain Rucker, SCDC officer, and Mary Fletcher, food
services supervisor at SCDC. He seeks only injunctive relief.
For his first count, Mr. Kanatzar alleges he requested a
Kosher diet and was placed on SCDC's certified religious
diet plan one week later. However, he has been “made
aware that” SCDC “does not maintain a separate
Kosher kitchen” and so he concludes that his meals are
not being prepared according to his religion's tenets
that require using containers and utensils that have never
held non-Kosher food. ECF# 7. As far as actions taken by the
individual defendants, Mr. Kanatzar alleges he submitted
requests that his meals be prepared in a manner
“keeping Kosher” to Major Phelps, and his request
was not acknowledged or answered so he filed another request
and grievance. ECF# 7, p. 7. He further alleges submitting
similar requests to the defendants Cole and Fletcher and
receiving no answer or acknowledgment Id. There are
no allegations against the defendant Rucker in this count.
The plaintiff asserts the defendants violated his rights
under the First and Fourteenth Amendment to pursue his
sincerely-held religious beliefs.
second count, Mr. Kanatzar alleges he has been denied
adequate exercise opportunities while in segregation.
Released from segregation in July 18, 2017, Mr. Kanatzar
alleges he returned to segregation on November 13, 2017, and
then requested from Captain Rucker that exercise equipment be
placed in the segregation recreation cages. When his request
was not answered or acknowledged, he filed with Director Cole
a grievance which also was not answered or acknowledged. He
asserts this denial of exercise equipment violates his Eighth
Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.
third count, Mr. Kanatzar alleges he is denied “hot or
warm water for shaving and washing” in the segregation
unit. ECF# 7, p. 8. As for showers, he alleges that
“[s]egregation inmates are only allowed showers on
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and provided access to only
very poor quality soap.” Id. He alleges
sending requests to Captain Rucker and Director Cole for hot
water in the segregation cells and then filing a grievance
when his requests were not answered. He asserts the denial of
hot water for shaving and washing violates his Eighth
Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.
Participation of Defendants
Kanatzar has alleged a sufficient basis for personal
participation on behalf of Director Cole for all three
counts, on behalf of Major Phelps for count one, on behalf of
Supervisor Fletcher for count one, and on behalf of Captain
Rucker for counts two and three. The defendants are
respectively dismissed from the other counts for failure to
allege their personal involvement.
One-Failure to Maintain a ...