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Searcy v. Walden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 16, 2019

BARRY SEARCY, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT WALDEN, Idaho Correctional Industries Production Manager; ALAN ANDERSON, Idaho Correctional Industries General manager; JENNIFER PANTNER, ISCI Correctional Officer; KEITH YORDY, ISCI Warden; in their individual and official capacities; and KEVIN MICHELSON, Idaho Correctional General Manager and AL RAMIREZ, ISCI Warden; in their official capacities, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Barry Searcy's Amended Complaint (Dkt. 91). The Court Granted Mr. Searcy leave to amend based on newly-discovered evidence, and now reviews the Amended Complaint to determine whether it or any of the claims contained therein should be summarily dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Barry Searcy is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. On November 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that Defendants Scott Walden, Jennifer Pantner, Idaho Correctional Industries, and several un-named persons, Does 1-10, had violated various Idaho state laws, and violated his rights under the First Amendment. Dkt. 3 at 15-23. When Plaintiff filed this action, it was initially assigned to the Honorable Candy W. Dale, United States Magistrate Judge in accordance with this Court's then-applicable case assignment procedures. Judge Dale screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and issued an Initial Review Order (“IRO”) on March 15, 2016. Dkt. 8. Judge Dale's IRO allowed Plaintiff to proceed on the First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Pantner and Walden, but dismissed Plaintiff's three state-law claims, and dismissed Defendant Idaho Correctional Industries as a defendant.

         Plaintiff chose not to amend his complaint in the time allotted by the Scheduling Order, and the parties proceeded through discovery. Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on January 4, 2017, which was denied without prejudice on August 29, 2017, with supplemental briefing invited by the Court. Dkt. 42. Defendants filed their Second Motion for Summary Judgment on October 10, 2017, and this case was reassigned shortly thereafter to District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill. On April 26, 2018, nearly two and a half years into the case, Plaintiff made the first request for leave to file an amended complaint. Dkt. 57. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint outside the case management schedule based on the existence of newly-discovered evidence, but did not upset the case management deadlines previously set by Judge Dale. Dkt. 90

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court is required to review complaints filed in forma pauperis, or complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(d)(2) & 1915A(b).

         A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. In other words, although Rule 8 “does not require detailed factual allegations, . . . it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully harmed-me accusation.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Plaintiff brings claims under Idaho state law, as well as claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the federal civil rights statute. To state a colorable claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by the conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991).

         Prison officials generally are not liable for damages in their individual capacities under § 1983 unless they personally participated in the alleged constitutional violations. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677 (“[E]ach Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct.”). However, “[a] defendant may be held liable as a supervisor under § 1983 ‘if there exists . . . a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation.'” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989)) (emphasis added).

         A plaintiff can establish this causal connection by alleging that a defendant (1) “set[] in motion a series of acts by others”; (2) “knowingly refus[ed] to terminate a series of acts by others, which [the supervisor] knew or reasonably should have known would cause others to inflict a constitutional injury”; (3) fail[ed] to act or improperly acting in “the training, supervision, or control of his subordinates”; (4) “acquiesc[ed] in the constitutional deprivation”; or (5) engag[ed] in “conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others.” Id. at 1205-09. A plaintiff cannot simply restate these standards of law in a complaint; instead, a plaintiff must provide specific facts supporting the elements of such a claim, and he must allege facts showing a causal link between each defendant and Plaintiff's injury or damage. Alleging “the mere possibility of misconduct” is not enough. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         “While prisoners enjoy many protections of the Constitution, imprisonment carries with it the circumscription or loss of many significant rights, ” and “maintaining institutional security and preserving internal order and discipline may require prison officials to curtail certain constitutional rights.” Escalanti v. Lewis, 933 F.2d 1013 (9th Cir. 1991) (unpublished) (citing Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 524 (1983), and Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 545 (1979)).

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), currently incarcerated at Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). Plaintiff is also one of the class representatives in Balla v. IDOC, No. 1:81-cv-01165-BLW (D. Idaho), ...


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