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Woodson v. Jenkins

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

January 9, 2015

MOSES WOODSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL JENKINS, [1] Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

Moses Woodson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[2] Woodson contends that Defendant Officer Michael Jenkins assaulted him during his incarceration in the Piedmont Regional Jail. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 16.) For the reasons stated below, the Court will DENY the Motion to Dismiss.

I. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

"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) (citation omitted). 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 Atl. 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); lodice 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).

II. SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS

The sum of Woodson's allegations is as follows:[3]

On 7-19-2013 I was placed in hand cuff[s] by Officer M. Jenkins around 1:50 a.m. and escorted by him and four other officers from one part of the jail to the other. While doing so, I was assaulted several times by Officer Jenkins to the face and head with his walky-talky/radio. And a result [of] the blows I received to the face and body, I was hospitalized in Central Community Hospital for a hole in my bottom lip and major pain in my lip. I was treated and received three stitches in the mouth. And had to have surgery on my lip.

(Compl. 5.)

Woodson demands monetary damages for his hospital bill, $10, 000.00 for pain, and injunctive relief in the form of "charging the officer with assault with a weapon and fire him." (Id. at 6.)

III. JENKINS'S ARGUMENTS FOR DISMISSAL

Jenkins argues that Woodson's claims should be dismissed because: (1) Woodson failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) Woodson fails to state a federal claim for relief; and, (3) Jenkins is entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss will be DENIED.

A. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

The pertinent statute provides: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 U.S.C. § 1983] or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Generally, in order to satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the inmate must file a grievance raising the claim and ...


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