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Kinard v. English

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 18, 2018

DANIEL W. KINARD, Plaintiff,
v.
NICOLE ENGLISH, Warden, USP-Leavenworth, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Daniel W. Kinard 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 (Doc. 8) that are discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Petitioner filed this pro se civil rights action while in federal custody at USP-Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kansas. Plaintiff challenges the warden's compliance with Federal Bureau of Prison's (“BOP”) policies in failing to remove three points from his custody classification for “History of Escape.”

         Plaintiff was arrested on July 23, 1989, in Washington D.C. Plaintiff is alleged to have escaped from a CCA van on July 24, 1999. In 2002, Plaintiff was transferred to BOP custody. In 2006 the BOP changed their custody procedures and stopped holding Plaintiff responsible for the alleged escape because he was not given a state disciplinary proceeding regarding the escape. Plaintiff alleges that the procedures are no longer being followed, and that the BOP refuses to correct the warden's failure to follow BOP procedures in Program Statement 5100.08 regarding custody classification. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory 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

         The Due Process Clause protects against “deprivations of life, liberty, or property; and those who seek to invoke its procedural protection must establish that one of these interests is at stake.” Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). “A liberty interest may arise from the Constitution itself, by reason of guarantees implicit in the word ‘liberty,' . . . or it may arise from an expectation or interest created by state laws or policies.” Id. (citing Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 493-94 (1980) (liberty interest in avoiding involuntary psychiatric treatment and transfer to mental institution); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556-58 (1974) (liberty interest in avoiding withdrawal of state-created system of good-time credits)).

         Liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause are “generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force . . . nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995) (internal citations omitted). Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to a particular security classification or to be housed in a particular yard. Mecahum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224 (1976); Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 577 (6th Cir. 2005) (increase in security classification does not ...


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