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Pickrell v. Stewart

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

April 2, 2015

Robert Lee Pickrell, III, Plaintiff,
Mr. Stewart, et al., Defendants.


CLAUDE M. HILTON, District Judge.

Robert Lee Pickrell, III, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants, officials at Norfolk City Jail ("Norfolk") and Hampton Roads Regional Jail ("Hampton Roads") violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff has applied to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. To determine whether plaintiff qualifies to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court directs plaintiff's correctional institution to provide more information about the balance of his inmate account. After reviewing plaintiffs complaint, the claims against defendants Dune, Skaggs, Watch Commander, Correct Care Solutions, and ABL Food Services Management will be dismissed with prejudice, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim.[1] The claims against defendants Graves and McArtor will be dismissed without prejudice, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20, as misjoined. Additionally, for the reasons stated below, this complaint does not conform to all requirements for § 1983 civil actions, and plaintiff will be directed to provide additional information regarding all remaining defendants.


Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee. See Compl. "Statement of the Claim" ¶ (c). He arrived at Norfolk on August 20, 2014, and appears to suffer from two distinct medical conditions. First, he requires prosthetic arch supports for his feet, which fracture or break without such supports. Second, he requires a special diet free of ally meat products, due to a past emergency intestinal surgery. See id. 1(a). Plaintiff informed medical staff at Norfolk of his foot condition upon arrival at the facility. Id.

On September 9, 2014, plaintiff asked defendant Dune for a grievance form to address his ongoing medical concerns. Id. Dune informed plaintiff that he would refer his concerns to defendant Stewart, Norfolk's grievance coordinator. Id. That same day, Stewart spoke with plaintiff. Plaintiff told Stewart that he was in "severe pain" due to the failure to receive his arch supports; plaintiff also told Stewart that he had lost approximately twenty pounds due to the failure to receive his proper diet, Id. Stewart told plaintiff that he "would go speak to medical right away and... would come back same day [sic] to let [plaintiff] know the outcome." Id. During this same conversation, plaintiff told Stewart that the food at Norfolk was generally of poor quality, and that the inmates were "being starved." Id. 1(b). Stewart allegedly told plaintiff that the jail did not have the budget to pay anyone from ABL Food Services to properly oversee the kitchen. Id.

Plaintiff requested grievance forms about all topics he discussed with Stewart, but "could tell as soon as [he] acknowledged these facts to [Stewart], he and others are covering up facts of [inhumane] treatment and have denied so many others their grievance rights and processes...." Id. Plaintiff never received any grievance forms, and Stewart allegedly never followed up with plaintiff regarding his concerns. Id. In 1(13)-1(c). Plaintiff alleges that Stewart, Sheriff Robert McCabe, Officer Dune, Officer Skaggs, and the Watch Commander are all engaged in a willful cover-up of the inhumane conditions at Norfolk, and deliberately prevent inmates from filling out grievance forms on these issues. See id. ¶¶ 1(c)-5(c). Plaintiff also appears to allege that, as soon as he filed a formal grievance, he was transferred to Hampton Roads. Id. 5(b).

Plaintiff also alleges that the "Acting Doctor in Charge" at Norfolk; Ms. Samboy, the medical director; and Correct Care Solutions, the health services provider, denied him proper medical care. See id. ¶¶ 6(a)-8(b). On approximately September 3, 2014, plaintiff gave the medical staff written permission to access his medical records regarding his existing medical conditions. Staff apparently did not attempt to access these records. See id. ¶ 6(b). Plaintiff also notified the medical staff on two separate occasions about the pain in his feet and the fact that he required a special diet. Id. Although plaintiff met with the head doctor on September 7, 2014, the doctor allegedly did not provide any adequate treatment for plaintiffs foot pain. Id. 6(b)-6(c). The doctor also did not provide any treatment for plaintiff's dietary needs, and staff told plaintiff to request a special diet from the chaplain. Id. ¶ 6(c). Plaintiff allegedly submitted numerous requests to Samboy complaining about his medical treatment, but never received any response. Id. ¶ 7(b).

On September 23, 2014, plaintiff was transferred to Hampton Roads. See id. ¶ 10(a). Plaintiff gave nurse Graves permission to access his medical records from Norfolk, and told Graves about his existing medical problems. Id. ¶¶ 10(a)-10(b). Graves told plaintiff that he "would put [him] in [immediately] to see the doctor the next day, and would also notify the kitchen as well the next day about [plaintiffs] special dietary] tray." Id. 10(b). "After this, weeks went by and [plaintiff] never saw the doctor, [his] tray wasn't changed, and [he] was put threw [sic] the same treatment... by them starting [him] and no medical treatment.... Id. Plaintiff eventually requested a lacto-ovo tray from the chaplain and received his proper diet. Id.

Plaintiff states that his feet have gotten worse at Hampton Roads, and that he currently requests assistance to walk, in the form of a cane or wheelchair. Id. ¶ 10(c). He states that he was scheduled to receive x-rays, but never received them. Id. Defendant McArtor has allegedly ignored all of plaintiff's additional medical request forms. Id. 11(a)-11(b).


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(3)(6)." Sumner v. Tucker, 9 F. Stipp. 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. Although the facts should be construed in plaintiff's favor. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro. 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999), "[threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to meet this standard, Iqbal. 556 U.S. 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.


As plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, his claim is governed by the Due Process Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment. Sec Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-36 (1979). It is well-established, however, that the Due Process rights of a pretrial detainee are at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner. See Snide v. Hampton Roads Regional Jail, 407 F.3d 243, 250 (4th Cir. 2005). Therefore, plaintiff's claims of ...

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