United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
CROW, U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil
rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
his constitutional rights were violated while he was housed
at the Finney County Jail in Garden City, Kansas
Nature of the Matter before the Court
asserts that the Defendants failed to protect him by allowing
an inmate with known mental illnesses to be housed with
Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that on August 15, 2018, while
incarcerated for a parole violation and as a pretrial
detainee on a pending charge, he was moved to
“F-Pod” in the FCJ along with an inmate named
DaShawn Telfair, who had “obvious mental health
problems, including paranoid schizophrenia and
delusions.” (Doc. 1, at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that on
August 20, 2018, between 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Plaintiff
was playing chess with Telfair when Telfair grew hostile over
a disagreement about the rules of the game. Plaintiff alleges
that Telfair stood up and grabbed Plaintiff in a hostile
manner and Plaintiff punched Telfair in the face several
times in an attempt to defend himself, but was thrown and
dragged around the room in fear for his life.
April 3, 2019, the Court entered a Memorandum and Order (Doc.
5) dismissing Defendant FCJ and finding that Plaintiff's
claims against Finney County, Kansas, are subject to
dismissal because Plaintiff has pointed to no policy or
deficiency in the training program used by the Finney County
Sheriff's Department or Finney County and no causal link
between any such inadequacy and the allegedly
unconstitutional acts of jail staff. The Court also found
that because Plaintiff has failed to allege any personal
involvement by Defendants Bascue and Welch, his claims
against these defendants are subject to dismissal.
Plaintiff's failure to protect claim, the Court found
that the proper processing of Plaintiff's claim could not
be achieved without additional information from appropriate
officials of the FCJ. See Martinez v. Aaron, 570
F.2d 317 (10th Cir. 1978); see also Hall v. Bellmon,
935 F.2d 1106 (10th Cir. 1991). Accordingly, the Court
ordered the appropriate officials of the FCJ to prepare and
file a Martinez Report, noting that once the report
has been received, the Court can properly screen
Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. At the
direction of the Court, counsel for the FCJ filed a
Martinez Report (Doc. 9).
Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints
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. §
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).
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.
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).
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).
alleges that Defendants failed to protect him from Telfair.
“Prison and jail officials, as well as municipal
entities that employ them, cannot absolutely guarantee the
safety of their prisoners. Nonetheless, they have a
constitutional duty to take reasonable steps to protect the
prisoners' safety and bodily integrity.” Wright
v. Collison, 651 Fed.Appx. 745, 748 (10th Cir. 2016)
(unpublished) (quoting Cox v. Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231,
1247-48 (10th Cir. 2015)). Because Plaintiff is a pretrial
detainee, his claims are governed by the Due Process Clause
rather than the Eighth Amendment. Wright, 651
Fed.Appx. at 748 (citing Lop ...