United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
William Bridgewater brings this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds
in forma pauperis. Mr. Bridgewater is an inmate at
the Sedgwick County Detention Facility (SCDF) in Wichita,
Kansas. He has been convicted of a state felony and is
awaiting sentencing. For the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his complaint should
not be dismissed.
Nature of the Matter before the Court
complaint (ECF No. 1) alleges conditions at SCDF are
overcrowded. Mr. Bridgewater describes an incident on
February 10, 2019, where he got up from a table where he had
been eating to return his empty meal tray and tripped over a
chair, which caused him to fall into a chair occupied by
another inmate and injure his back. He claims the sleeping
area is also cramped and inmates have no room to eat, walk
around, or talk on the phone privately. Plaintiff states he
fears for his safety as a result of the crowded conditions in
the old work release building at SCDF (“Annex”)
where he is housed.
names as defendant Jeff Easter, Sedgwick County Sheriff. He
requests relief in the form of $5, 000, 000 in compensatory
damages and an order to bring the SCDF Annex up to code.
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). 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). 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).
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).
Failure to state a claim of a constitutional
Plaintiff brings one count in his complaint, alleging his
constitutional rights have been violated by the overcrowded
conditions in the SCDF Annex. He does not specify which right
has been violated, but claims based on the conditions of
confinement fall under the Eighth Amendment. An Eighth
Amendment challenge to prison conditions must contain facts
showing both (1) that the conditions resulted in a
“sufficiently serious” deprivation “so as
to constitute a substantial risk of serious harm” or,
in the alternative, that the conditions deprived the inmate
of “the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities”; and (2) that the responsible officials
acted with deliberate indifference to the prisoner's
conditions. Barney v. Pulsipher,143 F.3d 1299, 1310
(10th Cir. 1998); Shannon v. Graves, 257
F.3d 1164, 1168 (10th Cir. 2001). The Constitution
does not require comfortable prisons, but it does require
that inmates have “adequate food, clothing, shelter and
medical care.” Barney, 143 F.3d at 1310-11.
“[C]onditions that cannot be said to be ...