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Jensen v. Crowther

United States District Court, D. Utah

December 13, 2016

MICHAEL JENSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT CROWTHER, RICHARD GARDEN, and CHAD DUFORD, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANTS & ORDERING SERVICE ON REMAINING DEFENDANT.

          JUDGE JILL N. PARRISH United States District Court.

         Plaintiff/inmate, Michael Jensen, filed a pro se civil rights case, see 42 U.S.C. § 1983, proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Court now screens his Complaint, under the standard that any portion of a complaint in forma pauperis must be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Id. § 1915A(a)-(b).

         DISMISSAL ORDER

         1. Claims

         Plaintiff names as defendants Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC) affiliates Dr. Richard Garden, Chad Duford and Scott Crowther. He alleges claims of inadequate medical treatment.

         2. Grounds for Sua Sponte Dismissal

         In evaluating the propriety of dismissing claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, this Court takes all well-pleaded factual assertions as true and regards them in a light most advantageous to the plaintiff. Ridge at Red Hawk L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). Dismissal is appropriate when, viewing those facts as true, the plaintiff has not posed a "plausible" right to relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007); Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247-48 (10th Cir. 2008). "The burden is on the plaintiff to frame a 'complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' that he or she is entitled to relief." Robbins, 519 F.3d at 1247 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When a civil-rights complaint contains "bare assertions, " involving "nothing more than a 'formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional . . . claim, " the Court considers those assertions "conclusory and not entitled to" an assumption of truth. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554-55). In other words, "the mere metaphysical possibility that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to believe this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims." Red Hawk, 493 F.3d at 1177 (italics in original).

         This Court must construe pro se "'pleadings liberally, ' applying a less stringent standard than is applicable to pleadings filed by lawyers. Th[e] court, however, 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) (citations omitted). In the Tenth Circuit, this means that if this Court can reasonably read the pleadings "to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so despite the plaintiff's failure to cite proper legal authority, his confusion of various legal theories, his poor syntax and sentence construction, or his unfamiliarity with pleading requirements." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Still, it is not "the proper function of the district court to assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant." Id.; see also Peterson v. Shanks, 149 F.3d 1140, 1143 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989) (per curiam)).

         3. Affirmative Link

         The complaint must clearly state what each individual defendant did to violate Plaintiff's civil rights. See Bennett v. Passic, 545 F.2d 1260, 1262-63 (10th Cir. 1976) (stating personal participation of each named defendant is essential allegation in civil-rights action). "To state a claim, a complaint must 'make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom.'" Stone v. Albert, No. 08-2222, slip op. at 4 (10th Cir. July 20, 2009) (unpublished) (emphasis in original) (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1250 (10th Cir. 2008)). Plaintiff may not name an entity or individual as a defendant based solely on supervisory position. See Mitchell v. Maynard, 80 F.3d 1433, 1441 (10th Cir. 1996) (stating supervisory status alone is insufficient to support liability under § 1983). Nor does "denial of a grievance, by itself without any connection to the violation of constitutional rights alleged by plaintiff . . . establish personal participation under § 1983." Gallagher v. Shelton, No. 09-3113, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 25787, at *11 (10th Cir. Nov. 24, 2009).

         Considering these guidelines, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has done nothing to affirmatively link Defendant Scott Crowther to his claims, but has instead identified him merely as a supervisor and has not alleged any material facts that would tie him to the alleged deprivations at issue here. Plaintiff's claims against this defendant therefore may not survive this screening. And Defendant Scott Crowther is thus dismissed.

         ORDER FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS ON REMAINING DEFENDANTS

         The Court concludes that official service of process is warranted on the remaining defendants. The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is directed to serve a properly issued summons and a copy of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, (see Docket No. 50), along with this Order, upon the following UDOC-related defendants: Dr. Richard Garden and Chad Duford, P.A.

         Once served, Defendants shall respond to the summons in one of the following ways: (A) If Defendants wish to assert the affirmative defense of Plaintiff's failure to exhaust ...


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