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Anderson v. Falsted

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

September 11, 2017

LIEUTENANT FALSTED et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Charles Anderson Jr., a federal prisoner appearing pro se and proceeding in forma pauperis, filed this Bivens action seeking monetary relief against eleven officials at Federal Correctional Institution, El Reno (“FCI El Reno”). See Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 1-14.[1] Chief United States District Judge Joe Heaton has referred Plaintiff's case to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff's claims against the ten “John and Jane Doe” Defendants be dismissed on screening. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), 1915A(b)(1).


         The Court must screen Plaintiff's Complaint in order to identify its cognizable claims and to dismiss the pleading, or any portion thereof, that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Id. To survive dismissal a “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217-18 (10th Cir. 2007). A claim is facially plausible when the well-pled factual allegations, accepted as true and viewed in the plaintiff's favor, “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged” under the governing law. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 679; see Burnett v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 706 F.3d 1231, 1236 (10th Cir. 2013).

         A pro se plaintiff's complaint is “construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” so that any potentially valid claim can be fairly decided on its merits. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Still, a pro se plaintiff must allege “facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based, ” id., and district courts should not “construct . . . claims or grounds [for] relief” not fairly presented in the complaint, Windsor v. Colo. Dep't of Corr., 9 F. App'x 967, 970 (10th Cir. 2001). Courts also “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation” or to “unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (internal quotation marks omitted).


         This action challenges the conditions of Plaintiff's confinement-specifically, a known threat to Plaintiff's personal safety and injuries that Plaintiff suffered when he was physically assaulted by other inmates-while he was incarcerated at FCI El Reno.[2] See Compl. at 1, 9-12. In Count I, Plaintiff describes his conversation with Defendant Lieutenant Falsted, as well as Defendant Falsted's response to Plaintiff's request for protective housing, shortly before Plaintiff was attacked on May 19, 2015. See Id. at 9-11. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Falsted was a “Correctional Supervisor” employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and assigned to FCI El Reno. Id. at 7. In Count II, Plaintiff purports to “incorporate[] . . . by reference” the allegations against Defendant Falsted and bring these allegations against “Defendants John and Jane Does 1-10.” See Id. at 2, 12. Plaintiff states that these ten “unknown” individuals were BOP employees “assigned to the FCI El Reno in one or more of the following capacities: Correctional Officers, Correctional Supervisors, Executive and/or responsible Administrative Staff.” Id. at 8.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Shortly before dinnertime on May 19, 2015, Plaintiff went to Lieutenant Falsted's office to report that Plaintiff “needed to be placed in Administrative Segregation Housing” because he “had been told he was going to be attacked with weapons by fellow Native American inmates.” Id. at 9. Lieutenant Falsted asked Plaintiff why he believed he “was the target of an impending attack.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that he told Lieutenant Falsted about three “specific threats to his safety” from different racial or ethnic groups in FCI El Reno's general population, which is where Plaintiff was housed at the time. Id. at 11.

         First, Plaintiff said that he had ran out of the money he was using to settle “old drug debts of fellow Native Americans to the Mexican Mafia . . . in an effort to maintain peace between” those two groups. Id. at 9. Second, Plaintiff said that he had “testif[ied] as a defense witness” for two Aryan Brotherhood members and that the Mexican Mafia had passed that information along to “various members and ‘Shot Callers' of African-American gangs” such as the “Crip[]s, Bloods, and Gangster Di[s]ciples.” Id. at 9-10. Finally, Plaintiff said that he had been warned “that he had to leave” general population “or get ‘stuck up'” because there was a rumor going around that Plaintiff “had assisted the government during the trial and prosecution of members of the Aryan Brotherhood.” Id. at 9. According to Plaintiff, “mandatory applicable BOP policies” required Defendant Falsted, upon receiving this information, to “immediately place Plaintiff into Administrative Segregation Housing pending the completion of a Threat Assessment Investigation.” Id. at 10-11.

         Lieutenant Falsted told Plaintiff to wait on a bench outside his office. Id. at 10. Around the same time, two Native American inmates approached Plaintiff and told him that “he was not going to be attacked by anyone.” Id. Lieutenant Falsted apparently overheard the other inmates' comment and “ordered [P]laintiff to return to his housing unit.” Id. Plaintiff did as he was told. See Id. “Within five minutes of [P]laintiff's return to his housing unit, he was physically assaulted with weapons by Native American inmates.” Id. at 10. Plaintiff suffered “serious injuries” requiring treatment at a local hospital. Id.

         Plaintiff does not allege any facts describing what, if anything, the ten “John and Jane Doe” employees knew about the threats to Plaintiff's safety before he was attacked. See Id. at 12. Instead, Plaintiff purports to “incorporate[] . . . by reference” the portions of his Complaint in which he describes Defendant Falsted's misconduct, and he concludes that the John and Jane Doe Defendants' “individual and/or collective acts and omissions” violated the Eighth Amendment. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against each Defendant in his or her individual ...

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