United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
R. Spencer Judge
Batra, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. The matter is before the Court on the
Motion to Dismiss filed by Correctional Officer Edward L.
Smith and Sergeant S.T. Hite and the Court's authority to
review complaints filed by prisoners. Batra has responded. For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 48)
will be GRANTED and the action will be DISMISSED.
STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
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 plaintiffs 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).
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 Ail. 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 Atl.
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 Pertinent Facts
4, 2013, Correctional Officer Smith submitted a Disciplinary
Offense Report ("DOR"), wherein he charged Batra
with escape. In the DOR, Smith stated that:
On June 19, 2013, 1, Officer E. Smith, was working an outside
work crew (Crew #9) at the Shenandoah Valley Airport. At
approx. 8:40am we started cleaning the private terminal.
Offender K. Batra ... was assigned to clean the men's
bathroom. ... Batra ... was last accounted for at 9:15am. The
crew finished with the private terminal at approx. 9:30 AM,
so I gathered my crew together in order to move on to the
next building as a group. At this time, ... Batra .. . could
not be accounted for. I asked the crew if they knew where he
was. They suggested he may be in the bathroom. I checked the
bathroom however, he was not there. I immediately notified
the Airport Police and we searched the immediate area At
approx. 9:45 am, I then called the shift commander, Sgt. S.
Hite, and informed him that Offender K. Batra may have
walked- off of my work crew and could not be accounted for At
approx.. 2:25 PM, I returned to the [Cold Springs Work
Center] with [the remaining] 7 offenders. Due to an ongoing
investigation, it was determined that... Batra... did escape
from custody while working on an outside work crew......
(Compl. Ex. 1, at 1-2 (capitalization
corrected).) On July 8, 2013, Sergeant Hite provided
Batra with a copy of the DOR. (Id. at 1.) The DOR
also notified Batra that he could call witnesses at the
16, 2013, R.M. Leaboh conducted a disciplinary hearing on the
above offense. ( Id. at 4.) Leaboh found Batra
[B]ased on [the reporting officer's ("R/O")]
summary and oral statement that the accused left the area he
was assigned to and when he searched for him he was not
located. R/O states that during an investigation it was
determined that the accused had escaped and was in the area
of Washington D.C. The accused states his father was ill and
he went to see him he states he feels that he left the area
without permission but did not escape.
(Id.) Batra was penalized with loss of all of his
accumulated good time and thirty days disciplinary
segregation. (Id.) Batra appealed his conviction and
the penalty. (ECF No. 1-3, at 1.) Batra's appeal was
contends that Defendants denied him due process in conjunction
with the above conviction on the following grounds.
One The DOR "fails to provide a correct summary of how
the offender violated this offense" because it fails to
state when and how Batra ...