United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART AND
ROBERTO A. LANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cristian Cabrera-Asencio (“Cabrera-Asencio”)
filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 1.
Cabrera-Asencio is an inmate at the South Dakota State
Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. This Court has screened his
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the
following reasons, the Court dismisses Cabrera-Asencio's
complaint in part and directs service.
FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT
is a Spanish speaking, undocumented immigrant inmate. Doc. 1
at 5-6. He alleges that he is routinely given jobs by the
prison, but that Department of Corrections
(“DOC”) policies prevent him from getting paid
for his work because he is an undocumented immigrant.
Id. at 5. Cabrera-Asencio filed grievances,
complaining about his lack of pay. Id. He alleges
that he got fired from his job for complaining. Id.
He also claims that this happens to all undocumented
immigrant inmates. Id.
alleges that prison officials told him to stop speaking
Spanish, his native language. Id. at 6. He filed
grievances and complained to the prison staff, but he alleges
that he is not allowed to file grievances and that
Coordinator Elizabeth Vitetta, Warden Darin Young, and
Associate Warden Al Allcock ignored his complaints.
Id. On November 5, 2014, Cabrera-Asencio was written
up for speaking Spanish. Id. He alleges that prison
staff lied to ensure he would be disciplined and even ignored
another inmate who claimed responsibility. Id.
Cabrera-Asencio was found guilty of the infraction and
disciplined. Id. He allegedly received other write
ups and was punished for what he refers to as "bogus and
fabricated reports . . . ."Id.
alleges that defendants ignored his attempts to grieve or
resolve these issues. Id. at 7. He alleges that
Young, Allcock, and Vitetta were aware of his complains but
did nothing to resolve the issues. Id. He alleges
that Kaemingk rejected all of the complaints sent by
Cabrera-Asencio. Id. Because of these rejections,
Cabrera-Asencio alleges that the DOC staff continues to
disrespect and dehumanize him. Id.
1, 2016, Cabrera-Asencio filed this complaint. Doc. 1. He
alleges that defendants violated his rights under the Equal
Protection Clause by refusing to pay him for his work,
violated his First Amendment rights by punishing him for
speaking Spanish and for his complaints, and violated his
rights under the Eighth Amendment by ignoring his grievances.
Id. at 5-7. As relief, Cabrera-Asencio requests
compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 8. He also
requests that his write up be expunged and his fines be
remitted. Id. Finally, he requests injunctive relief
to eliminate the DOC policies preventing payment of
undocumented immigrant inmates and that defendants be barred
from retaliating against him. Id.
stage of the case, this Court must accept the well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Schriener v.
Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014).
Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally
construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart,
Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this
construction, "a pro se complaint must contain specific
facts supporting its conclusions." Martin v.
Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis
v. City of Minneapolis, 518 F.App'x 502, 504 (8th
Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely
conclusory. Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th
Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 F.App'x 481,
482 (8th Cir. 2007).
complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations .
. . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "If a plaintiff cannot make the
requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate."
Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court must screen prisoner
claims filed in forma pauperis and determine whether they are
(1) "frivolous, malicious, or fail[ ] to state a claim
on which relief may be granted; or (2) seek[ ] monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
See also Onstad v. Wilkinson, 534 F.App'x 581,
582 (8th Cir. 2013).
complaint raises three claims. He claims that defendants'
regulations barring undocumented immigrants from being paid
for working prison jobs violates his Equal Protection rights.
He claims that defendants violated his rights by punishing
him for speaking Spanish and retaliating against him for
lodging complaints. Finally, he claims that supervisory