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Bennett v. Cascade County

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

May 30, 2017

BRANDON CORDELL BENNETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CASCADE COUNTY, CASCADE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, COMMANDER O'FALLEN, BOB EDWARDS, C/Os BENNETT, LIGHT, VANZOUT, TIBBETTS, GAMEON and WALTERS, Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Brandon Bennett, a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and without counsel, has filed what has been construed as two motions to amend his Complaint (Docs. 14, 15) and a Motion to Reconsider Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 19).

         I. Motions to Amend Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

         A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:

(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). The Complaint was directed to be served upon Defendants by Order dated February 27, 2018. (Doc. 7.) Counsel for Defendants waived service on March 29, 2018 (Doc. 12) and Defendants filed an Answer on April 30, 2018 (Doc. 18). Mr. Bennett's motions to amend were filed within 21 days of waiver of service of the Complaint, accordingly the motions to amend will be granted. However, since Mr. Bennett is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review his amendments to the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That is, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). A complaint's allegations must cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         There is a two-step procedure to determine whether a complaint's allegations cross that line. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. First, the Court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are “merely consistent with liability, ” or “amount to nothing more than a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional” claim. Id. at 679, 681. A complaint stops short of the line between probability and the possibility of relief where the facts pled are merely consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. at 678.

         Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a “plausible” claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A claim is “plausible” if the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. This inquiry is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679 (citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         The Court finds that the claims which Mr. Bennett seeks to add are frivolous and should be dismissed.

         A. Joshua Racki

         Mr. Bennett first seeks to amend his Complaint to add Joshua A. Racki, the Cascade County Attorney, as a Defendant. He claims Mr. Racki, as the chief law enforcement official for Cascade County, is therefore responsible for the custody of federal inmates in the Cascade County Detention Facility and the conditions therein.

         Supervising officers cannot be held liable under a respondeat superior theory under section 1983. Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691-94 91978). That is, a defendant cannot be held liable just because they supervise other employees. Instead, supervising officers can be held liable under § 1983 “only if they play an affirmative part in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights.” King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 568 (9th Cir. 1987). “[A] plaintiff may state a claim against a supervisor for deliberate indifference based upon the supervisor's knowledge of and acquiescence in unconstitutional conduct by his or her subordinates.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2011).

         A supervisor may be liable: (1) for setting in motion a series of acts by others, or knowingly refusing to terminate a series of acts by others, which they knew or reasonably should have known would cause others to inflict constitutional injury; (2) for culpable action or inaction in training, supervision, or control of subordinates; (3) for acquiescence in the constitutional deprivation by subordinates; or (4) for conduct that shows a ...


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