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Welsh v. North Western Regional Jail

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

February 5, 2014

KEITH MICHAEL WELSH, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH WESTERN REGIONAL JAIL, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GLEN E. CONRAD, Chief District Judge.

Keith Michael Welsh filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he fell in the shower and was injured at a Virginia jail. Upon review of the record, the court finds that the action must be summarily dismissed.

Welsh was an inmate at the Northwestern Virginia Regional Jail ("the jail") when he filed this civil action.[1] Welsh states that the shower curtains at the jail were too long and would stop up the drain in the shower. Inmates routinely placed the curtains outside the shower, which directed a pool of soapy water onto the smooth concrete floor. When Welsh tried to step out of the shower, he slipped in this water and fell, suffering injuries to his right arm and elbow. He sues the jail, faulting officials for failing to install shorter curtains, no-skid strips, or handrails. He seeks compensation for pain and suffering and possible loss of employment.

The court is required to dismiss any action or claim filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer if the court determines the action or claim is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). To state a cause of action under §1983, a plaintiff must establish that he has been deprived of rights guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States and that this deprivation resulted from conduct committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42 (1988). The jail, as the only defendant Welsh has named in this action, is not a "person" subject to suit under § 1983. Preval v. Reno , 203 F.3d 821, 2000 WL 20591, at *1 (4th Cir. Jan. 13, 2000) (unpublished) (quoting Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police , 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989)); McCoy v. Chesapeake Correctional Center , 788 F.Supp. 890, 893-94 (E.D. Va. 1992) (finding city jail immune from suit and not a person for purposes of § 1983).

Because Welsh cannot prevail in a § 1983 claim against the jail, the court dismisses his complaint without prejudice, pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1), as legally frivolous.[2] The Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion and accompanying order to plaintiff.


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