Salazar v. Core Civic

Decision Date23 February 2022
Docket NumberCiv. 19-0075 JB/SMV
CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico

JASON R. SALAZAR, Plaintiff,


Civ. No. 19-0075 JB/SMV

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

February 23, 2022


THIS MATTER comes before the Court under rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(b)(2), on the Plaintiff's Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights, filed January 28, 2019 (Doc. 1)(“Complaint”). The Court will dismiss the Complaint with respect to Salazar's request for injunctive relief, Salazar's claims against Defendants Cibola County Correctional Center, Core Civic, Correct Care, United States Marshals Service, and Salazar's First and Eighth Amendment claims against Warden Valdez, and Salazar's First Amendment claims against C/O Larry, for failure to state a claim for relief. The Court will grant the Plaintiff Jason R. Salazar leave to file an amended complaint within thirty days.


At the time he filed this proceeding, Salazar was a detainee at the Cibola County Correctional Center. See Complaint at 1-2. His Complaint asserts jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)(“Bivens”). See Complaint at 2. He contests that state officials have violated his rights to


adequate medical care, to medical judgment, and to speak freely. See Complaint at 2. He also asserts that federal officials have violated his constitutional rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. See Complaint at 2. He names as Defendants Core Civic, Cibola Correctional, Correct Care, Warden Valdez, C/O Larry, and USMS. See Complaint at 1. Salazar describes the nature of his claims as “deprivation of adequate medical care & dental care, causing deliberate indifference, intentional prolonged suffering & pain, this is cruel and unusual punishment for almost 12 months.” Complaint at 3. In his Complaint, Salazar makes allegations relating to being placed in medical segregation following complaints of chest pain and inadequate dental care that led to an infection. See Complaint at 45, 7-8, 12-15. Salazar also attaches grievance forms relating to being disciplined for a physical altercation with other prisoners. See Complaint at 21-24. The only relief requested in his Complaint is “[p]ermanent injunctive & restraining order.” Complaint at 5. Salazar is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. See Order Granting Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) and to Make Payments or Show Cause, filed January 30, 2019 (Doc. 5).


The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under either rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Under rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleading. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The Court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991)(quoting


McKinney v. Okla. Dep't of Human Servs., 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

Under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may dismiss the complaint at any time if the Court determines that the action fails to state a claim for relief, or is frivolous or malicious. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The authority granted by § 1915 permits the Court the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). See also Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1109. The authority to “pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations” means that a court is not bound, as it usually is when making a determination based solely on the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). The Court is not required to accept the truth of the Plaintiff's allegations, but, instead, may go beyond the pleadings and consider any other materials the parties file, as well as court proceedings subject to judicial notice. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. at 32-33.

In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court liberally construes the factual allegations. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). A pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged, however, by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants and a pro se plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court. See Ogden v. San Juan Cnty., 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10th Cir. 1994). The Court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the Plaintiff or to supply factual allegations to support the Plaintiff's claims. Nor may the Court assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1110.



Section 1983 is a vehicle for vindicating substantive rights against State officials under the Constitution. See Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3 (1979); Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)(nothing that Section 1983 creates no substantive rights; rather it is the means through which a plaintiff may seek redress for deprivations of rights established in the Constitution); Bolden v. City of Topeka, 441 F.3d 1129 (10th Cir. 2006). Section 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State . . . subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983 (emphasis added). Only a “person” may be held liable under § 1983. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must assert acts by State government officials acting under color of law that result in a deprivation of rights the Constitution secures. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). There must be a connection between official conduct and violation of a constitutional right. Conduct that is not connected to a constitutional violation is not actionable under § 1983. See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 1998).

Further, a civil rights action against a public official or entity may not be based solely on a theory of respondeat superior liability for the actions of co-workers or subordinates. See Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. A plaintiff must plead that each government official, through the official's individual actions, has violated the Constitution. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). To succeed under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege an identified official's personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violation. See Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir.


2008). In a § 1983 action, it is particularly important that a plaintiff's complaint “make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each individual with fair notice as to the basis of the claim against him or her.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1249-50 (10th Cir. 2008)(emphasis in original). Generalized statements that the defendants caused the deprivation of a constitutional right, without plausible supporting factual allegations, are not sufficient to state any claim for relief. See Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d at 1249-50.

Injunctive relief is available under § 1983. A prisoner plaintiff may not maintain, however, § 1983 claims for temporary, preliminary, or permanent injunctive relief based on conditions of incarceration if the plaintiff is no longer housed at the facility. See Green v. Branson, 108 F.3d 1296, 1300 (10th Cir.1997); White v. State, 82 F.3d 364, 366 (10th Cir.1996). Once a prisoner is released from the prison facility, injunctive relief would have no effect on defendants' behavior and, therefore, injunctive relief is moot. See Green v. Branson, 108 F.3d at 1300; Abdulhaseeb v. Calbone, 600 F.3d 1301, 1311 (10th Cir. 2010). The rule that injunctive relief becomes moot applies both where the prisoner is released from prison and where the prisoner is transferred to a different prison facility. See Love v. Summit County, 776 F.2d 908, 910 n. 4, 912 (10th Cir. 1985).

Prisoners' post-conviction claims for inadequate medical or dental care proceed under the Eighth Amendment. Guided by “contemporary standards of decency, ” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976), the Supreme Court has addressed those minimal standards of providing humane conditions of confinement, see Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31-32 (1993), and prison officials' duties to assure the safety of inmates, see Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 52627 (1984). Even under these parameters, the Court will find an Eighth Amendment violation only when the alleged deprivation is “objectively, ‘sufficiently serious, '” and the prison official acts with “‘deliberate indifference' to inmate health or safety.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S....

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