United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
HEATON CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Anthony Hinds, an Oklahoma prisoner proceeding pro
se, brought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against three employees of the privately operated
Cimarron Correctional Facility (“CCA”). The case
was referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary M. Purcell for
initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) & (C). Following initial screening pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Judge Purcell issued a report and
recommendation [Doc. #12] recommending dismissal of the
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted. Plaintiff has objected to the report and
recommendation, therefore the court reviews the complaint
standard of review for screening under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for a motion to dismiss
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d
1214, 1217 (10th Cir. 2007). When reviewing a claim under
that standard, the court accepts all well-pleaded factual
allegations of the complaint as true and views them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. S.E.C. v.
Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014). To survive
screening, the complaint must allege “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face”
and “raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555, 570 (2007). In other words, the facts alleged in
the complaint must allow the court to infer the
defendants' liability. Shields, 744 F.3d at 640
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). The Twombly/Iqbal pleading
standard “is a middle ground between heightened fact
pleading, which is expressly rejected, and allowing
complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
which the Court stated will not do.” Id. at
640-41 (quoting Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d
1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012)). Because Mr. Hinds is proceeding
pro se, the court construes his pleadings liberally,
but does not act as his advocate. Merryfield v.
Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n.1 (10th Cir. 2009).
is an Oklahoma state prisoner currently incarcerated at CCA.
The complaint alleges that on July 28, 2016, Correctional
Officer Knighton gave him a misconduct (a disciplinary action
within the prison). He claims the misconduct was fabricated.
In the related grievances, plaintiff asserted that Knighton
later taunted him about the misconduct, asking how he liked
it and informing him that she had more coming. He also
alleges that she shined a flashlight in his face.
complaint also alleges that Knighton verbally threatened him
on August 6, 2016, leading to a mental breakdown for which he
was placed on therapeutic watch in the medical unit. He
alleges that Knighton “physically assaulted” him
upon his release from the medical unit. He also alleges that
Knighton “had inmates try to kill me.” Plaintiff
mentions “altercations” around October 22, 2016,
which resulted in his placement in protective custody.
Plaintiff indicates he tried to avoid being reassigned to his
old unit after completing his treatment in the medical unit,
but that defendants Cox and Byrd were not responsive to this
now sued Knighton, Cox, and Byrd for their alleged actions
claims are based on the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on
cruel and unusual punishment. He argues that Knighton violated
his Eighth Amendment rights by giving him an unsupported
misconduct, harassing him, physically assaulting him, and
arranging for other inmates to kill him. He claims that Cox
and Byrd violated his Eighth Amendment rights by not
protecting him from the actions of Knighton and other
the magistrate judge, the court concludes plaintiff's
allegations fail to state plausible claims against the
defendants. First, plaintiff cannot attack the legitimacy of
the misconduct in an action under § 1983 unless the
misconduct has been reversed or vacated. See Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994); Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 645 (1997) (holding of
Heck applies to prison disciplinary actions). There
is no suggestion in the complaint or plaintiff's response
that the misconduct has been overturned or expunged, via 28
U.S.C. § 2241 or otherwise, and he therefore cannot
challenge it here via a § 1983 claim.
Knighton's complaints about verbal harassment and abuse
are not a basis for claim. The Prison Litigation Reform Act,
42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. (“PLRA”)
bars any “Federal civil action . . . for mental or
emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury or the commission of a sexual
act.” Id. § 1997e(e). While plaintiff
claims that he was placed in the medical unit because of
Knighton's threats and harassment, the complaint and
related documents indicate that his placement was due to his
mental and emotional condition, not some physical injury.
Plaintiff's claims based on verbal harassment and abuse
fail to state a claim.
complaint does include an allegation of “physical
abuse” by Knighton, but the allegation is wholly
conclusory. It contains no facts indicating what Knighton
allegedly did or what the circumstances were. Did she slug
him? Did she push him? Did she merely touch his arm? The
complaint is lacking in those underlying facts, leaving the
court to speculate as to what plaintiff means by
“physical abuse.” The complaint indicates he told
the details of the physical abuse to the mental health staff,
but he didn't put any such details in his submissions to
this court. The general and conclusory allegations he did
include fall short of stating a plausible claim.
the complaint's allegation that Knighton encouraged other
inmates to kill him fails to state a claim for the same
reason --- the allegation is a summary conclusion, without
any attempt to supply the factual who, what and where that
might support an inference of a claim.
claims against Cox and Byrd also fail to state an Eighth
Amendment claim. Prison officials must protect prisoners from
“constant threats of violence and sexual assaults from
other inmates.” Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559,
572 (10th Cir. 1980). To state a claim for failure to
protect, “the inmate must show that he is incarcerated
under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious
harm.” Farmer v. ...