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Lewis v. Oregon Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 16, 2018

OREGON DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, Hearings Officer, HEATHER NEVIL, Hearings Officer, DAVE POWELL, Correctional Officer, G. PARSONS, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate formerly housed at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleged violations of his constitutional rights to due process and against retaliation. Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), and in response, plaintiff moves to amend his complaint. Defendants' motion is granted and plaintiff's motion is denied.


         The following facts are taken from plaintiff's Complaint and from his proposed Amended Complaint. (ECF Nos. 2, 31-1).

         On November 14, 2016, plaintiff was working in the EOCI cafeteria and asked defendant Parsons if he could leave to use the restroom. Parsons told plaintiff no and directed him to “hold it.” Compl. at 3. Plaintiff urgently needed to use the restroom and ultimately used a mop bucket to relieve himself because the restrooms were locked and unavailable for use without permission. Plaintiff maintains that he disposed of the urine through a drain and “properly cleaned up the area” by sanitizing the drain and disposing of the dirty bucket. Id.; Proposed Am. Compl. at 4. Plaintiff was later taken to “punitive segregation.” Compl. at 3.

         On November 15, 2015, Parsons issued a Misconduct Report charging plaintiff with violations of Disobedience of an Order I and Disrespect I. On November 16, 2016, the Misconduct Report was resubmitted with the additional violation of Inmate Assault II, which prohibits conduct that causes bodily fluids to come into contact with another inmate. Or. Admin. R. 291-105-0015(2)(d)(A).

         On November 21, 2016, Hearings Officer Powell conducted a disciplinary hearing and found that plaintiff committed Inmate Assault II. Powell sanctioned plaintiff with thirty days in disciplinary segregation and fourteen days of restrictions on his activities.

         Plaintiff alleges that Parsons subsequently told plaintiff that he did not find evidence supporting the charge of Inmate Assault II, but that Hearings Officer Nevil had instructed Parsons to charge plaintiff with Inmate Assault II. Compl. at 4; see also Proposed Am. Compl. at 6-7. Plaintiff alleges that Nevil did so to retaliate against plaintiff for filing grievances and speaking out against Nevil. Id.


         Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c), arguing that plaintiff's allegations fail to establish a cognizable claim. The Ninth Circuit has held that motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) are “functionally identical” to motions for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), “and that ‘the same standard of review' applies to motions brought under either rule.” Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054, n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (1989)).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint is construed in favor of the plaintiff, and its factual allegations are taken as true. Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). The court need not accept as true “conclusory” allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. Id. Instead, “for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory ‘factual content,' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). In pro se cases particularly, the court must construe the complaint liberally and afford the plaintiff “the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). “Unless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure” defects in the complaint, “a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action.” Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam).

         In response to defendants' motion, plaintiff moved for leave to amend and attached a proposed Amended Complaint. I consider plaintiff's proposed amendments when determining the sufficiency of his claims.

         A. Due Process Claim

         In his first claim, plaintiff alleges that Parsons and Powell violated his due process rights by issuing the amended Misconduct Report and imposing sanctions when no ...

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