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Dixon v. Core Civic

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 30, 2019

DIJON T. DIXON, Plaintiff,
v.
CORE CIVIC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW, U.S. Senior District Judge.

         Plaintiff Dijon T. Dixon, a prisoner at the Leavenworth Detention Center (CoreCivic-Leavenworth) in Leavenworth, Kansas, brings this pro se civil rights action. Plaintiff proceeds 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's Complaint (ECF No. 1) raises various claims related to an incident that occurred on June 4, 2018. Mr. Dixon alleges that during a nonviolent demonstration regarding lockdown procedures, facility personnel deployed three cans of CS gas into the pod. Plaintiff and the other inmates were exposed to the gas for hours as they were trapped in their cells. They were forced to eat meals in the contaminated pod and were not provided with medical assessments or clean clothing and bedding until June 7, 2018. Facility personnel forced the inmates to throw away all commissary purchases, and inmates were denied their commissary orders for the week.

         Plaintiff names two defendants, CoreCivic, the private company that owns and operates the Leavenworth Detention Center, and L. R. Thomas, the warden of the facility. Mr. Dixon does not state what constitutional rights he believes have been violated. He seeks damages of $1.2 million.

         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 employee of such entity to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Additionally, with any litigant, such as Plaintiff, who is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court has a duty to screen the complaint to determine its sufficiency. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Upon completion of this screening, the Court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b), 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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

         A. Failure to State a Cause of Action against Defendants

         “To state a claim under section 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, 48-49 (1988) (citing Parratt v. Taylor,451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams,474 U.S. 327, 330-331 (1986); Flagg Bros., Inc. v. Brooks,436 U.S. 149, 155 (1978)); Northington v. Jackson,973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff names ...


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