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Clausen v. Hall

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

October 22, 2013

TIMOTHY CLAUSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
FOX HALL, HEBBAD, EARLY, RACOFERED, DOUGLAS, COUNTY CORRECTION, DOUGLAS COUNTY, CITY OF OMAHA, and OMAHA POLICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOSEPH F. BATAILLON, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on June 26, 2013. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff is a prisoner who has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 8.) The court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's claims to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A.

I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is currently confined at the Douglas County Correctional Center in Omaha, Nebraska. (Docket Sheet.) Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter against four individuals, the Douglas County Correctional Center, Douglas County, the City of Omaha, and the Omaha Police Department. Plaintiff does not make any allegations against any Defendant in the body of the Complaint. ( See Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 1-2.)

Condensed and summarized, Plaintiff alleges that he has been placed in administrative segregation "without a reason or explanation." ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 1.) Plaintiff states that being placed in administrative segregation has "caused [him] duress." ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 2.) As relief, Plaintiff asks "to be released immediately." ( Id. )

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

The court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Therefore, where pro se plaintiffs do not set forth enough factual allegations to "nudge[] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, their complaint must be dismissed" for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007) (overruling Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1967), and setting new standard for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff's complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-44 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).

Liberally construed, Plaintiff here alleges federal constitutional claims. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the United States Constitution or created by federal statute and also must show that the alleged deprivation was caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).

III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS

An inmate who makes a due process challenge to his segregated confinement must make a threshold showing that the deprivation of which he complains imposed an atypical and significant hardship. Portley-El v. Brill, 288 F.3d 1063, 1065 (8th Cir. 2002) (internal quotations omitted); Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). The Eighth Circuit has consistently held that "administrative and disciplinary segregation are not atypical and significant hardships[.]" Portley-El, 288 F.3d at 1065; Phillips v. Norris, 320 F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003) ("We have consistently held that a demotion to segregation, even without cause, is not itself an atypical and significant hardship."). However, under certain circumstances, prolonged confinement in administrative segregation can rise to the level of an atypical and significant hardship. See Williams v. Norris, 277 Fed.Appx. 647, 648 (8th Cir. 2008) (holding that an inmate's 12 years in administrative segregation confinement constituted an atypical and significant hardship); Shoats v. Horn, 213 F.3d 140, 144 (3d Cir. 2000) (holding that inmate's almost eight years in administrative custody was "atypical" and he had protected liberty interest); Herron v. Schriro, 11 Fed.Appx. 659, 661-62 (8th Cir. 2001) (unpublished per curiam decision) (affirming district court's finding that inmate's lengthy administrative segregation confinement, more than 13 years, resulted in atypical hardship in relation to ordinary incidents of prison life, and defendants could not continue to deprive inmate of general population status without affording him due process).

Here, Plaintiff alleges that he is confined in administrative segregation, but fails to allege the duration of his confinement or other facts sufficient to suggest that his segregation status is atypical and a significant hardship. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 5-6.) As mentioned above, confinement in administrative segregation, by itself, is not an atypical and significant hardship. Thus, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to meet the threshold requirement to challenge his segregation status under the Due Process Clause. In addition, Plaintiff names Defendants in the caption of the Complaint, but makes no allegations against any of them in the body of the Complaint. A complaint that only lists a defendant's name in the caption without alleging that the defendant was personally involved in the alleged misconduct fails to state a claim against that defendant. See Krych v. Hvass, 83 F.App'x 854, 855 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974) (holding that court properly dismissed a pro se complaint where the complaint did not allege that defendant committed a specific act and the complaint was silent as to defendant except for his name appearing in caption)).

On the court's own motion, Plaintiff shall have 30 days in which to amend his Complaint to clearly state a Due Process claim against Defendants upon which relief can be granted. Any amended complaint must restate the allegations of Plaintiff's current Complaint (Filing No. 1) and any new allegations. Failure to consolidate all claims into one document may result in the abandonment of claims.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff shall have 30 days from the date of this Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint that clearly states a claim against Defendants. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint, or the court finds that the amended complaint is insufficient, this matter will be dismissed without further notice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

2. In the event that Plaintiff files an amended complaint, Plaintiff shall restate the allegations of the current Complaint and any new allegations. Failure to consolidate all claims into one document may result in the abandonment of claims.

3. The Clerk of the court is directed to set a pro se case management deadline in this case using the following text: November 22, 2013: Check for amended complaint.

4. Plaintiff shall keep the court informed of his current address at all times while this case is pending. Failure to do so may result in dismissal without further notice.


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