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Abdullah-El v. Washington State Penitentiary

United States District Court, Western District of Washington

April 23, 2015

HANNIBAL ABDULLAH-EL Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON STATE PENITENTIARY, WASHINGTON CORRECTIONS CENTER, Defendants.

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR TO AMEND

Karen L. Strombom United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff Hannibal Abdullah-El filed this civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff, who is no longer incarcerated, alleges that after he was convicted in 1997, he was incorrectly classified at the Washington Corrections Center (WCC) as maximum security and wrongfully imprisoned at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP). Dkt. 4.

Having reviewed and screened Plaintiffs Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court declines to serve Plaintiffs Complaint but provides Plaintiff leave to file an amended pleading by May 29, 2015, to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

DISCUSSION

The Court will dismiss a complaint at any time if the action fails to state a claim, raises frivolous or malicious claims, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he suffered a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, and (2) the violation was proximately caused by a person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). The first step in a § 1983 claim is therefore to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). To satisfy this second prong, a plaintiff must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused, or personally participated in causing, the harm alleged in the complaint. See Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981).

Plaintiff brings this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and claims "unlawful incarceration (Title 6)." Dkt. 4-1, p. 1. He alleges that in 1997, he was sentenced in Spokane County Court to 51 months imprisonment. He states that he was incorrectly classified as "maximum security" at WCC and as a result, was sent to WSP, which placed his life and liberty in jeopardy. He seeks $100, 000.00 in monetary damages and to have his conviction removed from his record or in the alternative, to have his conviction "sealed." Dkt. 4, pp. 2-3. Plaintiffs complaint suffers from deficiencies that, if not corrected in an amended complaint, require dismissal.

A. Proper Defendants

Plaintiff names only the WCC and WSP as defendants but these entities are not proper defendants in this action. Neither a state nor its officials acting in their official capacities are "persons" within the meaning of § 1983. Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). States and state agencies are immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment unless a state expressly waives its constitutional immunity. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706 (1999). The State of Washington has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity. Whiteside v. State of Washington, 534 F.Supp. 774 (E.D. Wash. 1982). Therefore, the WSP and WCC are immune from suit. See e.g., Banks v. Washington, 2009 WL 3831539 (W.D. Wash. 2009) (Western State Hospital is an improper § 1983 defendant).

Therefore, Plaintiff must name specific individuals as defendants and must allege in more specific terms who harmed him and how that harm violated a specific constitutional right. However, even if Plaintiff is able to name a viable defendant, his complaint remains deficient because there is no constitutionally protected right to a classification status and furthermore, his claims appear to be untimely.

B. No Constitutional Right to Classification

The Supreme Court has routinely held that federal prisoners have no constitutionally protected right to classification status pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g. Camarena v. Adams, 11 Fed.Appx. 789, 790 (9th Cir.2001); Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n. 9 (1976). The Eighth Amendment similarly provides no such protection, since "the mere act of classification does not amount to an infliction of pain." Myron v. Terhune, 476 F.3d 716, 719 (9th Cir.2007). The Ninth Circuit applied this to Washington state prisoners, holding that they too have no constitutional right to classification status. See Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316, 1318 (9th Cir. 1987).

Therefore, Plaintiff has not demonstrated a deprivation of a constitutional right giving rise to a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim regarding his prisoner classification status. Plaintiff states that the allegedly erroneous classification placed his "life and liberty in jeopardy" but he provides no factual allegations to support this claim. In this regard, Plaintiff is advised that "the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment." Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). If a prison official shows "deliberate indifference" to an inmate's health or safety, he will be in violation of this amendment. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 824, 834 (1994). "Deliberate indifference" requires more than ordinary lack of due care for an inmate's safety. Whitley v. Alters, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). It can be equated to recklessly disregarding a known risk of serious harm to an inmate. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 836. "[The] official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837.

To the extent Plaintiff seeks to pursue an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim, he must provide facts describing who caused him harm, when such harm was caused, and what ...


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