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Gray v. Geo Group Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 3, 2019

GEO GROUP INC., et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, a state inmate appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, filed an Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights at the Lawton Correctional Facility (LCF), (Amend. Compl.) [Doc. No. 34]. United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot referred the matter for proposed findings and recommendations consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Defendants GEO Group, Inc./LCF, and LCF employees Rios, Engle, Tunstal, Washington, Black, Sa ttler, Clark, Dawson, Brannon and Johnson, have filed a Motion to Dismiss, (Defs.'s Motion) [Doc. No. 82], and Plaintiff has responded, (Pl.'s Resp.) [Doc. No. 94]. For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that Defendants' Motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. It is further recommended that the Court dismiss certain claims on screening.

         I. Relevant Background

         In February 2017, Plaintiff filed a § 1983 complaint alleging various constitutional violations at LCF, [Doc. No. 10]. Generally, Plaintiff claimed: (1) he had been denied physical and mental health treatment; (2) officials ignored or rejected his grievances in violation of due process and the First Amendment; (3) he had been denied access to programs in violation of due process and his equal protection rights; (4) various Defendants filed “bogus” misconduct reports against him to either cover their own violations or in retaliation; (5) various Defendants promulgated an unconstitutional 10:00 P.M. lights-out policy; and (6) various Defendants failed to protect him from inmate assault. Id. at 7-22.[1]

         The Court dismissed the complaint on filing, see [Doc. Nos. 19, 35], and Plaintiff appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The circuit court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further consideration. See [Doc. No. 48]. Specifically, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the Court's Order:

• dismissing with prejudice all official-capacity claims for damages;
• dismissing with prejudice all due process, First Amendment, and equal protection claims based on various Defendants' failure to answer Plaintiff's grievances;
• dismissing the deliberate indifference claims against Defendants Honaker, Collins, Allbaugh, Engle, and Richmond;
• dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim regarding LCF's 10:00 p.m. lights out policy;
• dismissing the retaliation claims against Defendants Engle, Tunstal, Simpkins and Washington; and, [2]
• denying Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel. See Gray, 727 Fed.Appx. at 943-50.

         The Tenth Circuit reversed the Court's Order:

• dismissing Plaintiff's claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against Defendants Thomas, Lange, Morgan, Rios, Black and Shah as to Plaintiff's alleged lack of proper mental health treatment;
• dismissing deliberate indifference claims against Defendant Musallam as to Plaintiff's knee pain; and,
• denying Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint. See id.

         On remand, this Court accepted Plaintiff's proposed Amended Complaint, see [Doc. Nos. 34, 51].

         II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Claims

         As relevant here, Plaintiff alleges Defendants Rios, Black, and Dawson, were deliberately indifferent to his mental health illness, and Defendants Rios and Dawson were deliberately indifferent to his need for diabetic shoes. See Amend. Compl. at 9-10, 24. Plaintiff further claims that Defendants Engle, Tunstal, Washington, Clark, Brannon and Johnson brought fabricated misconduct charges against him, and that Defendants Engle, Tunstal, Clark, and Johnson did so out of retaliation. Id. at 11-13, 17-18, 22. Relatedly, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Clark found him guilty in those disciplinary hearings, and Defendant Dawson affirmed those convictions, without due process. See Id. at 11-13, 16, 18, 20. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Tunstal left him in unsanitary conditions, without cleaning products, and Defendant Sattler used excessive force on Plaintiff. See Id. at 12, 25-26.[3] Except for Defendants Rios and Clark, Plaintiff names the Defendants in only their personal capacities. See Id. at 5-9. Defendants Rios and Clark were named in both their personal and official capacities. See Id. at 3, 6.

         III. Standard of Review

         Defendants seek dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), see Defs.'s Motion at 1, and this Court has a continuing duty to screen any complaint where a prisoner is proceeding in forma paupers and “shall dismiss the case at any time” if the action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         “To survive . . ., a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1184 (10th Cir. 2010). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991).

         A pro se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly construed under the Rule 12(b)(6) standard. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the generous construction “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). 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).

         Finally, a court evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss may consider the complaint as well as any documents attached to it. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1112. A court may also consider other documents on a motion to dismiss, without converting to a motion for summary judgment, if the documents are (1) referenced in the complaint, (2) central to a plaintiff's claims, and (3) indisputably authentic. See Thomas v. Kaven, 765 F.3d 1183, 1197 (10th Cir. 2014).

         IV. Analysis

         A. Official ...

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