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Helburn v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 6, 2019

NATHAN NICHOLAS HELBURN, Plaintiff,
v.
WAYNE WILSON and DR. JAMES BARRY, Defendants.

          SUCCESSIVE REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE

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

         Plaintiff Nathan Nicholas Helburn is a prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. The Court previously reviewed Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, determined that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and allowed Plaintiff an opportunity to amend. (Initial Review Order, Dkt. 8.) The Court also mailed a copy of General Order 342 to Plaintiff, to aid him in drafting his amended complaint, and described some of the requirements of that General Order.

         Plaintiff has now filed an Amended Complaint, which omits some of Plaintiff's earlier claims-such as his dehydration claims-and omits a defendant. (Dkt. 10.) Though Plaintiff states that he did not receive a copy of General Order 342 (see Dkt. 9 at 1), the Amended Complaint complies with that General Order. Thus, the fact that Plaintiff did not receive the General Order is not relevant to the Court's review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

         The Court retains its screening authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Having reviewed the Amended Complaint, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to remedy the deficiencies in his initial complaint, and the Court will dismiss this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         1. Screening Requirement

         As explained in the Initial Review Order, the Court must dismiss a prisoner or in forma pauperis 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).

         2. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 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). “[D]etailed factual allegations” are not required, but a plaintiff must offer “more than ... unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s].” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. Discussion

         Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To state a plausible civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). To be liable under § 1983, “the defendant must possess a purposeful, a knowing, or possibly a reckless state of mind.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472 (2015). Negligence is not actionable under § 1983, because a negligent act by a public official is not an abuse of governmental power but merely a “failure to measure up to the conduct of a reasonable person.” Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 332 (1986).

         Plaintiff asserts that, in June 2018, he was moved to Medical Cell 9. That cell initially was filthy: there was blood, feces, and “food waste” on the walls, the floor was “slimy, ” and the “mattress smelled like urine.” (Dkt. 10 at 2.) Plaintiff spent 27 hours in the cell before it was cleaned and was confined there for a total of three days. (Id. at 2-3.)

         Likely because of his earlier dehydration as described in the initial complaint, Plaintiff “was told to drink water every hour.” (Id. at 3.) This advice caused Plaintiff to suffer a “low-sodium seizure” after three days in Medical Cell 9. During that seizure, Plaintiff “hit his head causing a mild concussion and painful neck and back injury attributed to a torn muscle.” (Id.)

         During the next two months, Plaintiff periodically “was put on pen and paper restriction and was unable to file a grievance to recieve [sic] medical care for [his] neck and back injury.” (Id.) Under this restriction, which was allegedly the result of collaboration between Defendants Wilson and Barry, Plaintiff was “only allowed paperwork 1 hour a day in a cramp[ed] phone booth.” (Id.) Plaintiff also states he was unable to access his legal work for ten days.

         Plaintiff has not plausibly alleged that any specific act, or failure to act, on the part of Defendants Wilson or Barry violated Plaintiff's civil rights. First, being held in a temporarily filthy cell, over 27 hours, is not the type of “intolerably cruel” condition that ...


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