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Neale v. RSW Regional Jail

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

April 6, 2015


Joshua Ray Neale, Pro Se Plainitff.


JAMES P. JONES, District Judge.

Plaintiff Joshua Ray Neale, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Neale alleges that the jail's medical staff has provided inadequate medical care for his injured knee and resultant pain. After review of the Complaint, I find that it must be summarily dismissed.

Neale is an inmate at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail ("RSW Jail"). Neale injured his knee while playing ball on September 16, 2014. He alleges that his knee was "swollen and was giving out on [him]." (Compl. 17, ECF No. 1.) The corrections sargeant and the nurse who were present told Neale to put in a request to see a nurse about his knee. When the nurse examined his knee two days later, she provided him with ibuprofen for pain. Neale waited another week to see a doctor, who examined the knee. Although the knee was still painful and swollen, the doctor said it was fine. When these symptoms did not resolve after another week, Neale asked to see the doctor again. Eleven days later, he underwent an X ray, which showed no abnormalities.

In late November, Neale still could not walk without pain. He asked the medical staff for an MRI, but they refused "due to cost." ( Id. at 18.) On December 15, Neale asked to see the doctor. A nurse examined him two days later, but did not arrange for him to see the doctor who was at the jail that same day. Neale alleges that the jail doctor "refuses to see [him] about [his] pain, " and he has asked unsuccessfully to see an "outside" doctor about the pain. ( Id. )

Neale filed this action in late January 2015, seeking injunctive relief. As defendants, he names the RSW Jail, its superintendent, and the "medical staff." ( Id. at 15.)

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 upon 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, 48 (1988).

Neale cannot pursue a § 1983 claim against two of the defendants he has named. Neither the RSW Jail nor its "medical staff" constitutes a "person'" subject to suit under § 1983. Preval v. Reno, No. 99-6950, 2000 WL 20591, at *1 (4th Cir. Jan. 13, 2000) (unpublished) (quoting Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989)). Therefore, I will summarily dismiss without prejudice Neale's claims against these defendants, pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1), as legally frivolous.

While the jail superintendant is a person acting under color of state law for purposes of § 1983, Neale's allegations do not state any actionable constitutional claim against him. Apparently, Neale seeks to impose liability on this defendant merely based on his position as a supervisory official, which is not a viable basis for liability under § 1983. "[L]iability will only lie where it is affirmatively shown that the official charged acted personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff['s] rights. The doctrine of respondeat superior has no application" under § 1983. Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Because Neale states no facts indicating that the superintendant acted personally in any way that deprived him of constitutionally protected rights, he states no claim against this defendant.[1] Therefore, the court will summarily dismiss this action without prejudice, pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim.[2]

A separate Final Order will be entered herewith.

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