United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
April 1, 2014
JIMMIE POPE, Plaintiff,
ROY W. CHERRY, Defendant.
JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.
Jimmie Pope, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this civil rights action. The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
The Magistrate Judge made the following findings and recommendations:
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or (2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon "an indisputably meritless legal theory, ' or claims where the "factual contentions are clearly baseless.'" Clay v. Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)), The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
"A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Att. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " id. (citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely "conceivable." Id. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell All. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, therefore, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
Summary of Allegations
In his Complaint,  Pope alleges:
I was hurt during my arrest on 4-18-12 and complained over [and] over again to medical dep. of Ports. City Jail, nothing done until I wrote a grievance, then they took me to Maryview Hospital the next day 6-13-12 I was moved to Hampton Roads Regional Jail and I explained about my medical problems, but the doctor gave me some kind of meds. and put in for a bottom bunk pass but meds didn't do anything to help. So I went to eat and after I got to [the] last step, I fell, so I told the dep. but he said put in for sick call. I did, but no one answered] until a week later, then the doctor once again didn't send for medical records, so I ask to see another doctor, two weeks passed by. After I saw this doctor she re-entered a request for my medical records from Maryview Hospital and put in for another bottom bunk and that I fell again in my cell, still didn't get a bottom bunk until my cell mate got locked down.
(Compl. (ECF No. 1) 5.) Pope states that he finally received a bottom bunk on August 3, 2012, and that as of the date of filing his Complaint, he "still [hasn't] received the proper treatments for my head pain." ( Id. ) Pope names Roy Cherry, the Superintendent of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, as Defendant. Pope seeks money damages and full disability benefits. ( Id. at 6.)
In order to state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff milk allege that a person acting under color of state law deprived him or her of a constitutional right or of a right conferred by a law of the United States. See Dowe v. Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145 F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir. 1998). "Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (citations omitted). "[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Id. Pope fails to mention Defendant Cherry in the body of his Complaint, much less explain how he was personally involved in the events for which Pope seeks relief. "Where a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint is properly dismissed, even under the liberal construction to be given pro se complaints." Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974) (citing U.S. ex rel. Brzozowski v. Randall, 281 F.Supp. 306, 312 (E.D. Pa. 1968)). Accordingly, Pope has failed to state a claim against Defendant Cherry.
Accordingly, it is RECOMMENDED that the action be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim.
(Nov. 15, 2013 Report and Recommendation (alterations and omission in original).) The Court advised Pope that he could file objections or an amended complaint within fourteen (14) days after the entry of the Report and Recommendation. Pope has filed neither objections nor an amended complaint.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
"The magistrate makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court." Estrada v. Witkowski, 816 F.Supp. 408, 410 (D.S.C. 1993) (citing Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976)). This Court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). "The filing of objections to a magistrate's report enables the district judge to focus attention on those issues - factual and legal - that are at the heart of the parties' dispute." Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). In the absence of a specific written objection, this Court may adopt a magistrate judge's recommendation without conducting a de novo review. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005).
There being no objections, the Report and Recommendation will be ACCEPTED and ADOPTED. Pope's claims and the action will be DISMISSED. The Clerk will be directed to note the disposition of the action for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
An appropriate Order will accompany this Memorandum Opinion.