United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR
A. KIMBALL, United States District Court Judge
Ryan Wilkerson, is a pro se prisoner proceeding
in forma pauperis. In this civil-rights complaint,
42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (2017), he asserts his federal
constitutional rights under the Eighth (cruel-and-unusual
punishment) and Fourteenth (equal protection) Amendments have
been breached by Defendants failing to protect him.
Defendants are: Rick Eldridge, San Juan County (SJC) Sheriff;
John Young, SJC Jail Commander; Officer Dennis Hoggard, SJC;
Officer Preston Palmer, SJC; and James Chipp, Utah Department
of Corrections (UDOC) Inmate Placement Program Supervisor.
The SJC defendants move for summary judgment, as does
Defendant Chipp separately. The Court grants SJC
Defendants' motion, but first, under its screening power,
see 28 U.S.C.S. § 1915A (2017), dismisses some
defendants and issues upon the basis of failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL BASED ON FAILURE TO STATE CLAIM
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 Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 1951 (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).
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)).
AFFIRMATIVE LINK - DEFENDANTS ELDRIDGE & YOUNG
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).
these guidelines, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has done
nothing to affirmatively link Defendants Rick Eldridge and
John Young to his claims, but has instead identified them
merely as supervisors or deniers of grievances--and has not
tied any material facts to them. Plaintiff's claims
against these defendants therefore may not survive this
screening. And these defendants are thus dismissed.
NO PHYSICAL INJURY - DEFENDANT CHIPP
alleges that Defendant Chipp failed to protect him by keeping
him in facilities where he was mingled with other inmates who
were classified as more aggressive and perhaps dangerous than
his own classification, putting him at risk of an attack.
Here, the “injury” he cites is the fear and
anxiety that he suffers in perceiving that he is vulnerable.
However, “[n]o Federal civil action may be brought by a
prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional
facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in
custody without a prior showing of physical injury or the
commission of a sexual act.” 42 U.S.C.S. §1997e(e)
particular allegation of failure to protect against Defendant
Chipp does not include physical injury. And, therefore,
Plaintiff has not stated a claim for relief which may be
granted here. This being the only claim against Defendant
Chipp, he is dismissed from this case and his
summary-judgment motion is denied as moot.
on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative
remedies through the prison grievance process, SJC Defendants
(the only two remaining, Hoggard and Palmer) move for summary
judgment. (See Docket Entry # 82 .) Defendants
support their motion with a Martinez report
(including affidavits and grievance policy and history) and a
memorandum. (See Docket Entry # s 37, 38, 39, 70,
83, 84.) Plaintiff responds to the Martinez report
and motion. (See Docket Entry #s 75 & 90.) The
Court rules for Defendants.
STANDARD & ...