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Ealom v. United States

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 20, 2018

VALERIECE D. EALOM, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Valeriece D. Ealom, a federal revocation detainee at the CoreCivic Leavenworth Detention Center (“CoreCivic”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to Bivens v. SixUnknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why her Complaint should not be dismissed.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges harassment by CoreCivic staff on the basis of religion. Plaintiff names as defendants the United States, CoreCivic, Officer Malanowski, Officer Turkin, and Officer Putnam.

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff is Muslim and has approval from her CoreCivic unit manager to wear religious head wraps. The head wraps are provided to her by the CoreCivic chaplain. Even though she has permission to wear the head wraps, Defendants Malanowski, Turkin, and Putnam have “continuously harassed” her about the religious head gear, referring to it as a “rag” and threatening her with a disciplinary violation for wearing it. Doc. 1 at 6. The Complaint further alleges on one occasion, Defendant Turkin refused to allow Plaintiff to go to medical to receive her medication because she refused to remove her head wrap. Id.

         Plaintiff claims her rights under the Eighth Amendment and her “religious rights” have been violated. She seeks training for CoreCivic staff, reprimands for Defendants Malanowski, Turkin, and Putnam, and compensatory damages of $250, 000.

         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 ‘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.

         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. ...


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