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Turner v. Muse

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

October 27, 2014

Michael Lynn Turner, Plaintiff,
William W. Muse, et al., Defendants.


ANTHONY J. TRENGA, District Judge.

Michael Lynn Turner, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants William W. Muse, Chairman of the Virginia Parole Board; Harold W. Clarke, Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections; and Evert Simms, a counselor at Coffeewood Correctional Center. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants have violated his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to release plaintiff on discretionary parole. Plaintiff also makes several common law tort claims against defendant Simms, including intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff has applied to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. After reviewing plaintiff's complaint, the claims must be dismissed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim.[1]

I. Background

On December 5, 2007, plaintiff was released from the Brunswick Correctional Center on mandatory parole, with a minimum date of discharge from supervision of December 5, 2012. See Compl. 4; Ex. B. He was also directed to be on supervised release until December 15, 2012, "not at the direction of the parole officer." Id . On December 1, 2010, plaintiff was arrested for driving while intoxicated and refusing a breathalyzer test. Compl. 4. The charge was reduced to a reckless driving charge, of which plaintiff was convicted on March 30, 2011. Id .; see also Ex. C. On February 6, 2013, as a result of this conviction, the Virginia Parole Board revoked plaintiff's parole. Compl. Ex. C.

On August 2, 2013, the Virginia Parole Board denied plaintiff's release on discretionary parole, based in part on his prior failure to comply with the terms of his release. See id. Ex. D. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Muse, by revoking plaintiff's parole on February 6, 2013, conducted a "void hearing." Id . 6. Plaintiff also states that Muse exceeded the jurisdiction of the Virginia Parole Board by conducting a discretionary hearing in July 2013. Id . Plaintiff states that defendant Clarke, "by maintaining the unlawful procedure used by the [Virginia Parole Board], " violated plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights. Id . Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages from Muse and Clarke. Id . 9.

Plaintiff also states that defendant Simms "acted outside of his professional and official capacities of supervision, " "violated all ethics and common law [sic] and demonstrated an unprofessional attitude, " and "caused intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress." Id . 7 of 11. These allegations appear to relate to a conversation between plaintiff and Simms on June 25, 2013. At approximately 10:55 am, plaintiff asked Simms for a list of witnesses to call at his upcoming parole hearing. Simms responded "I don't have no fucking list! When I get the list I'll call you. Don't come to my door and knock on it for nothing." Id . Ex. E. Informal Compl. After plaintiff filed an informal and formal complaint about this incident, Coffeewood Correctional Facility staff investigated the incident, and advised Simms to be professional at all times. Id . Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages from Simms. Compl. 9.

II. Standard of Review

In reviewing a complaint pursuant to § 1915A, a court must dismiss a prisoner complaint that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted is determined by "the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Sumner v. Tucker, 9 F.Supp.2d 641, 642 (E.D. Va. 1998). To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, and thus state a claim under § 1915A(b)(1), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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 663. However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to meet this standard, id. at 678, and a plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 55. Moreover, a court "is not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

In addition, to state a claim under § 1983, plaintiff must prove that a person, acting under color of state law, violated his constitutional rights. Supervisory officials can only be liable for constitutional violations of their subordinates in certain situations. See Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368 (4th Cir. 1984)). This liability is not premised on respondeat superior, but upon "recognition that supervisory indifference or tacit authorization of subordinates' misconduct may be a causative factor in the constitutional injuries they inflict on those committed to their care." Id. at 798 (quoting Slakan, 737 F.2d at 372-73). "[L]iability ultimately is determined by pinpointing the persons in the decisionmaking chain whose deliberate indifference permitted the constitutional abuses to continue unchecked.'" Id . To establish supervisory liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate:

(1) that the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge that his subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed "a pervasive and unreasonable risk" of constitutional injury to citizens like the plaintiff; (2) that the supervisor's response to that knowledge was so inadequate as to show "deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of the alleged offensive practices, "; and (3) that there was an "affirmative causal link" between the supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.

Id. at 799 (citations omitted).

III. Analysis

A. Defendant Muse

Plaintiff alleges that Muse violated plaintiff's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by "subject[ing] plaintiff to discretionary parole review beyond plaintiff's minimum date of discharge from supervision...;" failed to perform his administrative duties "by not directing [his] agency to correct a void proceeding...;" and violated state law. See Comp. 5-8. ...

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