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Ridley v. Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 18, 2018

ANTHONY EARL RIDLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF SEDGWICK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Sam A. Crow U.S. Senior District Judge

         Plaintiff Anthony Earl Ridley brings this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Lansing Correctional Facility at the time of filing, the acts giving rise to his Complaint occurred while he was in custody at the Sedgwick County Detention Facility. The Court granted his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his Complaint should not be dismissed.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff alleges that he was denied a special diet and religious text in accordance with his Hindu religion, and that he was excluded from chaplain services. Plaintiff names as Defendants: the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners; Sedgwick County; Sam Brownback; Governor Constituent Services Office; the State of Kansas; John Doe (1) Chaplain; and John Doe (2) Chaplain. Plaintiff seeks “$10, 000, 000 for monetary damages for violations of the Due Process Clause, [his] right to Substantive Due Process, and First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Federal Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice Act, 42 U.S.C. 1985(2), (3), prospective injunctive relief and $3, 000, 000 for violation of Kan. Const. B. of R. (7), $10, 000, 000 for monetary damages for violations of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA) and Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, $27, 000, 000 for punitive damages for constitutional injury and damages of emotional injury, loss of enjoyment of life, dispiritedness and mental distress and bodily damage.”

         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. Discussion

         1. Exhaustion

         Plaintiff describes his attempts to seek administrative relief as: “Sheriff's General Orders nothing was done to correct the problems. I also sent a formal grievance letter to Governor Sam Brownback.” (Doc. 1, at 30.) Having considered Plaintiff's allegations, the Court finds the Complaint is subject to dismissal because Plaintiff acknowledges that he has not exhausted administrative remedies on his claims. Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), “a prisoner must exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing a lawsuit regarding prison conditions in federal court.” Id. This exhaustion requirement “is mandatory, and the district court [is] not authorized to dispense with it.” Beaudry v. Corrections Corp. of Am., 331 F.3d 1164, 1167 n. 5 (10th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1118 (2004); Little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1249 (10th Cir. 2010). An “inmate who begins the grievance process but does not complete it is barred from pursuing a § 1983 claim under the PLRA for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.” Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3d 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002).

         The court may dismiss sua sponte a prisoner complaint when it is clear on the face of the complaint that the prisoner has not exhausted administrative remedies. See Aquilar-Avellaveda v. Terrell, 478 F.3d 1223, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, the court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to dismissal without prejudice ...


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