United States District Court, D. Nebraska
CARL A. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
SCOTT FRAKES, Official Capacity, Individual Capacity; ADAM CROP, Official Capacity, Individual Capacity; BRIAN GAGE, Official Capacity, Individual Capacity; CHELSEA GUFFRIE, Official Capacity, Individual Capacity; and PAUL TOMPKINS, Official Capacity, Individual Capacity; Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD G. KOPF SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Carl A. Martin (“Martin”) filed a Complaint on
July 13, 2017. (Filing No. 1.) He has been given
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 7.)
On August 17, 2017, he paid the initial partial filing fee.
(See Docket Sheet.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Martin's Complaint to determine whether
summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e) and 1915A.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
is a prisoner confined at the Tecumseh State Correctional
Institution. He brings this action against five employees of
the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services: Scott
Frakes, Adam Crop, Brian Gage, Chelsea Guffrie, and Paul
Tompkins in their official and individual
capacities. Martin's “Statement of
Claim” is as follows:
The defendants infringed and deprived the complainant his
right to safe and human conditions of confinement because
during a [g]eneral population inmate [r]iot on May
10th 2015 when assaults and fires [were] being
started by these general population inmates. He was a
protective custody inmate safe and secure in his unit; and
these defendants placed his unit cell doors and yard doors on
group access with [g]eneral population unit cell doors and
yard doors together and allowing the [g]eneral population
inmates to prey upon my persons and commi[t] fires, threats,
and unit damage to property - resulting [in] heavy toxic
smoke for 7 hours without correcting the error when they had
reasonable time to correct the breach of safety. Under the
8th[A]mendment to the United States Constitution.
(Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 4-5.) Martin asserts that he
suffered assault, exposure to toxic smoke, smoke inhalation,
emotional distress and mental anguish, and exacerbated
psychological harm because of the incident. (Id. at
CM/ECF p. 5.) He seeks $5, 000, 000 in damages. (Id.
at CM/ECF p. 6.)
APPLICABLE STANDARDS OF REVIEW
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 of it 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(b).
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
construed, Martin 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).
Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages by private parties
against a state, state instrumentalities, and an employee of
a state sued in the employee's official capacity.
See, e.g., Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll.,72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995); Dover Elevator Co. v.
Arkansas State Univ.,64 F.3d 442, 446-47 (8th Cir.
1995). Any award of retroactive monetary relief payable by
the state, including for back pay or damages, is proscribed
by the Eleventh Amendment absent a waiver of immunity by the
state or an override of immunity by Congress. See,
e.g., id.;Nevels v. Hanlon, 656 F.2d
372, 377-78 (8th Cir. 1981). Sovereign immunity does not bar
damages claims against state officials acting in ...