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Soto v. United States Marshalls

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

October 4, 2019

KYLE G. SOTO, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES MARSHALLS, in their official capacity; PENNINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, in their official capacity; AND JUDGE ROBERT MANDEL, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JEFFREY L. VIKEN CHIEF JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Kyle Soto is an inmate at the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City, South Dakota. He filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents alleging defendants violated his constitutional rights.[1] (Docket 1 at p. 1). The court granted Mr. Soto leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and he timely paid his initial filing fee. (Docket 5). The court now screens and dismisses Mr. Soto's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         I. Facts

         Mr. Soto states he was “summoned to appear in civil court for a protection order hearing” on May 21, 2018. (Docket 1 at p. 4). Mr. Soto asked a jail official if he would be taken to court for the hearing and the official told him the United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) had placed a hold on him, preventing his transfer to court. Id. The official further stated “they don't transfer Federal inmates to civil court because it's to [sic.] much of a hassel [sic].” Id. Mr. Soto alleges the failure to transport him to court resulted in a default protection order, which denied him contact with his children. Id. Mr. Soto also alleges he was forced to obtain a lawyer to avoid default and has incurred $4, 000 in expenses as well as missed time with his children. Id. at p. 5.

         The protection order proceedings took place before South Dakota Seventh Circuit Judge Robert Mandel. Id. Mr. Soto alleges Judge Mandel made rulings in three separate hearings without him present. Id. Mr. Soto further states he sent “letters begging for relief” from the lack of transportation to Judge Mandel, without response. Id.

         Mr. Soto asserts the USMS, the Pennington County Sheriff's Office and Judge Mandel violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at pp. 4-5. He specifically asserts Judge Mandel denied him due process by making rulings in his case without him present. Id. at p. 5. Mr. Soto requests injunctive relief for himself and other federal inmates that they may be transported to court from the Pennington County Jail. Id. at p. 7. Mr. Soto finally asks the court to sanction Judge Mandel for “improper and excessive rulings.” Id. Finally, he seeks reimbursement for the $4, 000 in attorney's fees as well as damages for mental and financial stress “forced” upon him, his parents, and his children. Id.

         I. Prisoner Complaint Screening

         A. Legal standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review a prisoner complaint and identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This screening process “applies to all civil complaints filed by [a] prisoner[], regardless of payment of [the] filing fee.” Lewis v. Estes, 242 F.3d 375 at *1 (8th Cir. 2000) (unpublished) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999)). During this initial screening process, the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety or in part if the complaint is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The court may dismiss a complaint under §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim as “the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

         Because Mr. Soto is proceeding pro se, his pleading must be liberally construed and his complaint, “however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.

         Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 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 Fed.Appx. 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davi ...


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