United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Morris United States District Court Judge.
Timothy Wright (“Wright”), a prisoner proceeding
pro se, filed his Complaint on September 6, 2016. (Doc. 2.)
United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston found on July
10, 2017 that Wright's Complaint failed to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 8.) Judge Johnston
afforded Wright the opportunity to amend his Complaint by
August 4, 2017. Id. Wright timely filed his Amended
Complaint on August 2, 2017. (Doc. 9.)
Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants violated
Wright's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by
deliberate indifference to potential physical abuse by other
inmates, and denial of medical care.
Johnston issued Findings and Recommendations in this matter
on January 22, 2018. (Doc. 10.) Judge Johnston recommended
that the Court dismiss Wright's Amended Complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
(Doc. 10 at 1.)
Court reviews de novo findings and recommendations to which
objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Portions
of findings and recommendations to which no party
specifically objects are reviewed for clear error.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach.,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
filed an objection. (Doc. 11.) The document requests leave to
file a Second Amended Complaint and provides additional
factual allegations that Wright argues meet the standard
detailed by Judge Johnston's order. The Court will review
de novo Judge Johnston's recommendations to dismiss
alleges that he engaged in a physical relationship with a
female staff member of Crossroads Correctional Center. (Doc.
9-1 at 2.) Wright further alleges that another inmate learned
of the relationship and attempted to “blackmail”
the staff member with the information. (Doc. 9-1 at 2.)
Crossroads discharged the staff member after she reported the
relationship and blackmail attempt to her superiors. (Doc.
9-1 at 2.) The inmate who attempted the blackmail allegedly
earned an infraction report and placement in restricted
housing. (Doc. 9-1 at 3.) Wright alleges that he was
interviewed by the Warden, but was not disciplined. (Doc. 9-1
further alleges that he was assaulted by other inmates on
March 18, 2015 and March 19, 2015. (Doc. 9-1 at 3.) Wright
claims that this assault caused serious injury to his head.
(Doc. 9-1 at 3.) Wright seeks to hold Defendants Fender,
Busby, and Stewart responsible for the assault. (Doc. 9-1 at
officials have a duty “to take reasonable steps to
protect inmates from physical abuse.” Hoptowit v.
Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250-51 (9th Cir. 1982). A prisoner
alleging a violation of this duty must show that prison
officials acted “deliberately indifferent” to
serious safety threats. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994). This standard requires the prisoner to
demonstrate both: 1) that a prison official was “aware
of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm” to the prisoner
existed; and 2) that the prison official in fact drew such
inference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.
Johnston found that Wright's Amended Complaint failed to
allege facts regarding whether Defendants knew of and
disregarded an excessive risk to his safety. (Doc. 10 at 4.)
Judge Johnston explained that Wright failed specifically to
allege that Defendants knew or should have known that he was
in danger. (Doc. 10 at 4.) Specifically, Judge Johnston noted
that “[e]ven if Defendants were aware” of
Wright's relationship with the staff member, “that
does not automatically translate that he would be in danger
of assault from other inmates.” (Doc. 10 at 4.) Judge
Johnston concluded that granting Wright further leave to
amend would be futile. (Doc. 10 at 8.)
objects to Judge Johnston's recommendation that the Court
should dismiss his deliberate indifference claim. (Doc. 11 at
2.) Wright specifically contends that amendment would not be
futile. (Doc. 11 at 3.) Wright alleges new facts in his
objection. (Doc. 11 at 3.) Wright's objection alleges
that Wright informed Defendants on March 18, 2015, that he
feared returning to his assigned housing. (Doc. 11 at 3.)
Wright alleges that he informed Defendants of his fear that
other inmates would see Defendants' failure to discipline
Wright as “favorable treatment” for “being
a ‘snitch.'” (Doc. 11 at 3.) Wright contends
that Defendants dismissed these concerns and nevertheless
returned him to his housing unit where he was assaulted on
March 18 and 19, 2015. (Docs. 11 at 3; 9-1 at 3.)
Court remains mindful of Archer's pro se status. The
Court must “liberally construe” pro se filings.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Further,
“[d]ismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to
amend is proper only if it is absolutely clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by
amendment.” Weilburg v. Shapiro, 488 F.3d
1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 2007).
has alleged that Defendants had knowledge that Wright
perceived that he was in danger. Wright has further alleged
that Defendants dismissed these concerns. These factual
allegations could arguably support that Defendants were aware
of a substantial risk of serious harm to Wright. Farmer, 511
U.S. at 837. Therefore, it is not “absolutely
clear” that granting Wright further leave to amend his
deliberate indifference claim would be futile. Weilburg, ...