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Smith v. Haynes

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 30, 2018

JOHN GARRETT SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD HAYNES, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          J. RICHARD CREATURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The District Court has referred this action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura. Plaintiff John Garrett Smith, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, initiated this civil rights action in February of 2018. Dkt. 1. He has now filed an amended complaint. Dkt. 6. However, his amended complaint suffers from the same deficiencies as his original complaint, and those deficiencies cannot be remedied by amendment. Therefore, the Court recommends that the claims regarding his underlying conviction be dismissed without leave to amend, but that he be allowed to proceed on his other claims regarding his claimed mistreatment while incarcerated.

         BACKGROUND

         In plaintiff's original complaint, he alleged that he is being unlawfully detained by the Department of Corrections (“DOC”) and that, in doing so, he is losing substantial money from his businesses. Dkts. 4 at 3; 4-1 at 7. He also claimed that defendants' actions were in violation of the RICO Act. Dkt. 4 at 3. The Court also interpreted one of his allegations as claims that several defendants have treated him with animosity and refused his requests for protection from physical violence. Dkt. 4-1 at 3. The Court ordered plaintiff to show cause or file an amended complaint, noting that some of his challenges necessarily imply that his underlying conviction is invalid and are therefore inappropriate. Dkt. 5 at 2-3. The Court provided leave to amend and further noted that plaintiff's claims alleging animosity from prison staff could move forward if he included them in his amended complaint. Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff has now filed an amended complaint. Dkt. 6. In it, he again includes allegations that officials are violating the RICO Act by conspiring to keep him unlawfully detained. Id. at 3. He also again includes specified acts by individual defendants, including belligerent taunting and provocation to commit assault. Id. at 7. He further clarified that the Court misinterpreted one of his claims: he does not request relief from the DOC failing to protect him because he has made no such requests from the DOC. Rather, he is claiming that “the DOC and tyrant state is, by far, [plaintiff's] largest threat to life, liberty, & property.” Id. at 3. As relief, he requests $20.05 billion, plus an addition $6.3 million per day in tolling. Id.

         The Court takes judicial notice that plaintiff has numerous other civil matters pending in this Court, including two pending Petitions for Writs of Habeas Corpus.[1] The Court therefore also takes notice that plaintiff's underlying conviction has not yet been vacated by either a state or federal court order.[2]

         DISCUSSION

         I. Heck v. Humphrey Bar and RICO Allegations

         Plaintiff again alleges defendants violated his constitutional protections when they framed him for a crime he didn't commit. As noted in the Court's previous order, a plaintiff may only recover under § 1983 for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction if he can prove that the conviction has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. A “§ 1983 action is barred (absent prior invalidation) - no matter the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of his suit (state conduct leading to the conviction or internal prison proceedings) - if success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) (emphasis in original).

         Here, plaintiff alleges that defendants are holding him unlawfully in violation of the RICO Act. Dkt. 6 at 3. However, these claims imply that plaintiff's underlying conviction is invalid and that he has not yet overturned his conviction through direct appeal or collateral attack. As noted above, a challenge under § 1983 that would necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction and resulting confinement is not appropriate until the conviction has been overturned or vacated, either by direct appeal or collateral attack. Further, aside from filing completely new causes of action, plaintiff cannot provide an amended complaint that would remedy this deficiency.

         Because the Court cannot grant plaintiff's desired relief for these claims, because the Court has already placed plaintiff on notice that this claim cannot move forward, and because the deficiency cannot be remedied through amendment, the Court recommends plaintiff's RICO claims be dismissed without leave to amend.

         II. Remaining Claims

         As in his original complaint, plaintiff has included particularized allegations against several specific defendants, including allegations that staff attempted to provoke him to assault and taunted him. Dkt. 6 at 7. These claims are colorable on their face. Therefore, the Court recommends allowing these claims to move ...


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