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Aguilar v. Colorado Deparment of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 26, 2016

LAZARO AGUILAR 148078, Plaintiff,
v.
COLORADO DEPARMENT [sic] OF CORRECTIONS, and COLORADO STATE PENETENTRY [sic], Defendants.

ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE AMENDED PRISONER COMPLAINT

GORDON P. GALLAGHER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Plaintiff Lazaro Aguilar is an inmate in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections. On April 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed pro se a Prisoner Complaint and Prisoner’s Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF Nos. 1, 3). He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 5).

The Court must construe the Prisoner Complaint liberally because Plaintiff is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to submit an Amended Prisoner Complaint if he wishes to pursue the claims in this action.

I. PRISONER COMPLAINT

Plaintiff asserts nine claims for relief against two Defendants, the Colorado Department of Corrections and Colorado State Penitentiary, based on alleged violations of his federal constitutional rights. Although he does not identify the basis for the Court’s jurisdiction in the Prisoner Complaint, the Court exercises jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In the first claim, he alleges that “prison officials” have handled his “case” with prejudice and discrimination. The allegations underlying this claim are rambling and difficult to understand, but it appears Plaintiff disagrees with the execution of his sentence, in that he believes he should have been released in April 2015. He alleges his “racial group” is the basis of his continued incarceration in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He requests money damages.

In the second claim, he alleges the Colorado State Penitentiary law library has violated his access to the courts due to its various restrictions and costs. He alleges such restrictions and “denial of access to legal material caused [his] potential meritorious claim to fail” in another case filed in this District. He requests money damages and injunctive relief.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth claims allege violations of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff requests money damages and injunctive relief. In the third claim, Plaintiff alleges he was not provided a cleaning kit for ten days and, when one was provided to him, he removed dirt, lint, dust, and “stains of feces and mucus” from his cell, which caused him emotional and physical injury. The fourth and fifth claims allege that he was not provided with toilet paper for multiple three-day periods, in addition to the roll of toilet paper provided weekly, which deprived him of basic hygiene and threatened his dignity. In the sixth claim, he alleges the correctional facilities lost his laundry and he went without certain articles of clothing at various times. He also alleges articles of laundry were reissued to him. The seventh claim concerns his request for new shoes. Plaintiff received shoes on March 31, 2015 but wanted new ones. In the eighth claim, he challenges the Colorado State Penitentiary’s policy of allowing a clean blanket one per month. The allegations are unclear, but it appears Plaintiff wants a clean blanket on a more frequent basis.

In the ninth claim, Plaintiff alleges Travis Trani, Warden of Colorado State Penitentiary, warned him regarding “the filing of frivolous grievances.” He alleges this constituted retaliation and deprived him of access to the courts. He makes allegations pertaining to a request for grievance forms, but does not allege forms were not provided to him. In the Request for Relief, Plaintiff seeks $1, 000, 000 per violation of his constitutional rights as alleged in the Prisoner Complaint.

II. ANALYSIS

a. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8

The Prisoner Complaint does not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass’n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). The requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff’d, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992). Specifically, Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, . . . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” The philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Taken together, Rules 8(a) and (d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8. The Prisoner Complaint contains repetitive and rambling allegations that are difficult to understand. Plaintiff must comply with Rule 8 in the filing of an Amended Prisoner Complaint and state his claims clearly, with supporting factual allegations, and without unnecessary repetition.

b. Colorado Department of Corrections and Colorado State Penitentiary

Any constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Plaintiff might assert against the Colorado Department of Corrections and Colorado State Penitentiary are barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity, regardless of the relief sought. Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989); Steadfast Ins. Co. v. Agricultural Ins. Co., 507 F.3d 1250, 1252-53 (10th Cir. 2007). "It is well established that absent an unmistakable waiver by the state of its Eleventh Amendment immunity, or an unmistakable abrogation of such immunity by Congress, the amendment provides absolute immunity from suit in federal courts for states and their agencies." Ramirez v. Okla. Dep’t of Mental Health, 41 F.3d 584, 588 (10th Cir. 1994). The Colorado Department of Corrections and Colorado State Penitentiary are agencies of the State of Colorado. The State of Colorado has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, seeGriess v. Colorado, 841 F.2d 1042, 1044-45 (10th Cir. 1988), and congressional enactment of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 did not abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity, see Ellisv. Univ. of Kan. Med. Ctr., 163 F.3d 1186, 1195-96 (10th Cir. 1998). The Eleventh Amendment may not bar a federal court action so long as the plaintiff seeks in substance only prospective relief and not retrospective relief for alleged violations of federal law, but a claim for prospective relief may only be asserted against ...


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