United States District Court, D. Idaho
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge.
Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff Damian
Ayarzagoitia's Complaint as a result of Plaintiff's
status as an inmate and in forma pauperis request. Plaintiff
has since filed an Amended Complaint. See Dkt. 7. The
Court 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.
Court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking
relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints
filed in forma pauperis, 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(e)(2)(B)
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). “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,
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).
is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of
Correction (“IDOC”). He is currently incarcerated
at Eagle Pass Correctional Facility (“EPCF”) in
Eagle Pass, Texas. EPCF is operated by a private prison
company that has contracted with the IDOC for the housing of
Idaho prisoners. Plaintiff was transferred to EPCF from the
Idaho State Correctional Center (“ISCC”) in
October 2018. See Compl., Dkt. 7, at 2.
contends that, before his transfer to EPCF, he sent a concern
form to Defendant Christensen, the warden at ISCC, stating
that Plaintiff had a “green light” placed against
him by two prison gangs-the Aryan Knights (“AK”)
and the Severely Violent Criminals (“SVC”).
Id. A green light means that every gang member is
tasked with attacking the green-lit inmate on sight.
Id. Knowing that members of these gangs were housed
at EPCF, Plaintiff told Defendant Christensen it would not be
safe for him to be transferred.
these concerns, Plaintiff was transferred to EPCF on October
9, 2018. That same day, Plaintiff was attacked by prison gang
members and suffered serious injury. Id. at 2-3.
Plaintiff later told the Director of the IDOC about the
attack, but “nothing has happened to fix the
issue.” Id. at 3. In May 2019, Plaintiff was
placed in protective custody at EPCF, but he believes he is
“still at risk of serious physical injury.”
claims that Defendant Christensen's inaction, which
permitted Plaintiff's transfer to EPCF, violated the
Eighth Amendment and Idaho Code § 20-241A. Id.
also asserts claims against Idaho Governor Brad Little. He
contends that Idaho Code §§ 20-209H, 20-209(3) and
(4), and 20-241A are unconstitutional as violating the Eighth
or Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 6-8. Plaintiff also
asserts that Idaho Code § 20-209H violates other Idaho
statutes-specifically, Idaho Code §§ 19-5305(1) and
(2), 19-4708(1) and (2)(c), and 19-4707. Id.
Section 1983 Claims
Standards of Law
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,
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.”). Section 1983 does not allow for recovery
against an employer or principal simply because an employee
or agent committed misconduct. Taylor, 880 F.2d at
1045. 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)).
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) failed to act or improperly
acted 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.
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects
prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment. To state a
claim under the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show that
he is (or was) “incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm, ” or that he has been
deprived of “the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities” as a result of Defendants'
actions. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)
(internal quotation marks omitted). An Eighth Amendment claim
requires a plaintiff to satisfy “both an objective
standard-that the deprivation was serious enough to
constitute cruel and unusual punishment-and a subjective
standard-deliberate indifference.” Snow v.
McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978, 985 (9th Cir. 2012),
overruled in part on other grounds by Peralta v.
Dillard, 744 F.3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc).
to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation, the
deprivation alleged must be objectively sufficiently harmful,
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, or, in other words,
sufficiently “grave” or “serious, ”
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). As the
United States Supreme Court has explained:
Not every governmental action affecting the interests or
well-being of a prisoner is subject to Eighth Amendment
scrutiny, however. After incarceration, only the unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment. To be cruel and
unusual punishment, conduct that does not purport to be
punishment at all must involve more than ordinary lack of due
care for the prisoner's interests or safety.
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)
(internal quotation marks, citation, and alteration omitted).
respect to the subjective prong of an Eighth Amendment
analysis, a defendant acts with deliberate indifference only
if the defendant (1) was aware of the risk to the
prisoner's health or safety, and (2) deliberately
disregarded that risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.
Prison officials who actually knew of a substantial risk will
not be liable under § 1983 “if they responded
reasonably to the risk, even if the harm ultimately was not
averted.” Id. at 844. Mere negligence is not
sufficient to establish deliberate indifference; rather, the
official's conduct must have been wanton. Id. at
officials who act with deliberate indifference “to the
threat of serious harm or injury” by one prisoner
against another are subject to liability under § 1983.
Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459 (9th Cir.
1986). “Having incarcerated persons with demonstrated
proclivities for antisocial criminal, and often violent,
conduct, having stripped them of virtually every means of
self-protection and foreclosed their access to outside aid,
the government and its officials are not free to let the
state of nature take its course.” Farmer, 511
U.S. at 833 (internal quotation marks, citation, and
alterations omitted). Although even an obvious danger does
not result in liability if the official is not subjectively
aware of it, a prison official cannot “escape liability
for deliberate indifference by showing that, while he was
aware of an obvious, substantial risk to inmate safety, he
did not know that the complainant was especially likely to be
assaulted by the specific prisoner who eventually committed
the assault.” Id. at 843.
standard governing most constitutional claims of
inmates-other than Eighth Amendment claims-was outlined by
the United States Supreme Court in Turner v. Safley,
482 U.S. 78 (1987). There, the Court examined the free speech
issue in the context of prison officials prohibiting
correspondence between inmates residing at different state
institutions. The Court held that “when a prison
regulation [or official action] impinges on inmates'