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Thompson v. Trump

United States District Court, D. Utah

May 28, 2019

DONALD TRUMP et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, Wesley Thompson, brings this pro se prisoner-rights action, see 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (2019), [1] in forma pauperis, see 28 Id. § 1915. Having now screened the Complaint, (Doc. No. 6), under its statutory review function, [2] the Court orders Plaintiff to show cause why the complaint should not be dismissed.


         Plaintiff names the following defendants: United States President Donald Trump; Utah State Prison Warden Scott Crowther; Central Utah Correctional Facility (CUCF) Officer Keith Holder; CUCF Officer Michal George; CUCF Officer Melvin Coulter[3]; and CUCF Officer Eric Ludvingson. He alleges these defendants violated his federal constitutional rights regarding events leading up to his rape by a cellmate on August 5, 2011.

         He concedes that he already brought an unsuccessful federal civil-rights complaint about the rape. Thompson v. Coulter, No. 2:12-CV-680-CW, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32662 (D. Utah Mar. 14, 2016) (dismissing claims as to August 5, 2011 Plaintiff's rape by cellmate for failure to exhaust). The Tenth Circuit affirmed. No. 16-4042 (10th Cir. Feb. 28, 2017) (unpublished). The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review. No. 16-9685 (Oct. 2, 2017).

         Plaintiff here brings in some new defendants and tries to relitigate the exhaustion issue, requesting relief from these rulings on the basis of “equitable tolling, ” due to “emotional trauma and physical trauma from the incident and for fear from perceived threats from inmates and officers.” (Doc. No. 6, at 3.)


         1. Failure-to-State-a-Claim Standard

          When deciding whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court takes all well-pleaded factual statements as true and regards them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ridge at Red Hawk L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). Dismissal is fitting when, viewing those facts as true, the Court sees that the plaintiff has not posed a "plausible" right to relief. See Bell Atl. 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 that this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims." Red Hawk, 493 F.3d at 1177 (italics in original).

         The Court construes 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). The Tenth Circuit holds that, if the pleadings can reasonably be read "to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, [they should be read] 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, "the proper function of the district court [is not] 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)). Dismissing the complaint "without affording the plaintiff notice or an opportunity to amend is proper only 'when it is patently obvious that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged, and allowing him an opportunity to amend his complaint would be futile.'" Curley v. Perry, 246 F.3d 1278, 1281-82 (10th Cir. 2001) (quoting Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110 (additional quotation marks omitted)).

         2. 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 defendant is essential allegation). "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 individual as a defendant based solely on supervisory status. 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 Defendants Trump[4] and Crowther to his claims. He has not tied any material facts to them. Plaintiff's claims against these defendants may not survive this omission. The Court thus proposes to dismiss these defendants.

         3. Statute ...

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