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Haffner v. Geary County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 26, 2019




         Plaintiff Michael James Haffner is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this case should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein. Plaintiff is also given the opportunity to file a proper amended complaint to cure the deficiencies discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 27, 2016, he was arrested in Saline County, Kansas, on charges of theft by deception, forgery, writing a false statement, and paraphernalia. Plaintiff alleges that he wrote checks to his business from his business bank account. Plaintiff alleges that checks were “placed on inmates' books” and the jail came after him for theft. Plaintiff alleges that when he was taken into custody, he informed “them” in August of 2016 that he had PTSD and signed a waiver of release of information for them to obtain his diagnosis from the VA. Plaintiff alleges that he was refused medication and counseling “by the staff at Saline County Jail.” Plaintiff alleges that from July to March he was “farmed out to Ottawa County” where they had no medical staff. He was sent back for PTSD concerns and moved from minimum to suicide watch for flashbacks and night terrors in September 2016. He was moved to medium, then to the hole and to maximum security for PTSD-related outbursts and “aggressive and instinctual behavior.” Plaintiff alleges that he was refused his prescribed medication.

         Plaintiff alleges that he took a plea deal for writing worthless checks, and as part of the conditions he was to have no contact with his victim-the Saline County Sheriff's Department and jail. Plaintiff alleges that despite this condition, he was brought into custody by the “victims” in August of 2017. Plaintiff alleges that he was housed by his victim where they refused his medication for 18 months. Plaintiff alleges that he finally received his medication in May 2018. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of his criminal case, the Sheriff's Department seized just under $30, 000 of Plaintiff's checks and money, and his business was ultimately foreclosed.

         Plaintiff alleges that on August 16, 2018, Deputy Main asked Plaintiff to “get your hands out of your pants are ya looking for something, are you playing with yourself?” Plaintiff was written up after informing Main that he did not appreciate his sexually suggestive comments. Plaintiff was found not guilty of the violation due to Main's unprofessional conduct. Plaintiff alleges that the PREA does not allow for any officer to speak in such a manner. Plaintiff alleges that on May 10, 2018, he was not taken to court in his state criminal case and as a result two bench warrants for his arrest were issued. Plaintiff names as Defendants: Geary County Sheriff's Department; Saline County Jail; Saline County Sheriff's Department; (fnu) Main, Saline County Jail Deputy; and State of Kansas. Plaintiff seeks $500, 000 in compensatory damages and $500, 000 in punitive 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 ‘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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