United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge.
Reginald Azeez, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
naming various staff of the Wallens Ridge State Prison as
defendants. Plaintiff complains that he was kept in
segregation before and after being acquitted of an
institutional charge. The court conditionally filed the
complaint, warned Plaintiff that the complaint failed to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and granted
Plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint. This
matter is now before the court for screening pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. After reviewing the amended complaint,
the court finds that it fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, and it is dismissed.
involving numerous inmates started near where Plaintiff was
exercising in the prison. Plaintiff moved away from the melee
and complied with officers' orders for all inmates to lie
on the floor. Later that day, Plaintiff told investigators
that he was not involved with the melee. Despite his denial,
staff moved Plaintiff to segregation, and defendant Boyd
charged him with the institutional infraction of
"fighting with any person." Defendant Carico
reported the charge, defendant Stallard approved the charge,
and defendant Gillen water was a witness in support of the
charge. Defendants King and Collins approved changing
Plaintiffs classification to pre-hearing segregation during
the pendency of the charge.
Hensly conducted the disciplinary hearing, reviewed the video
recording of the melee, and found Plaintiff innocent of the
charge. Nevertheless, Plaintiff remained in segregation for
fourteen days after Hensley dismissed the charge, for a total
of twenty four days in segregation. Plaintiff argues that
this time in segregation violated the Due Process and Equal
Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
court must dismiss an action or claim filed by an inmate if
the court determines that the action or claim is frivolous or
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b)(1); 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). The first standard includes claims based upon
"an indisputably meritless legal theory, "
"claims of infringement of a legal interest which
clearly does not exist, " or claims where the
"factual contentions are clearly baseless."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The
second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
accepting a plaintiffs factual allegations as true. A
complaint needs "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and
sufficient "[f]actual allegations ... to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level" Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted). A plaintiffs basis for relief
"requires more than labels and conclusions . .. ."
Li Therefore, a plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient
to state all the elements of [the] claim." Bass v. E.I.
Dupont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir.
amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted because Plaintiff has not stated a deprivation
of a federal right. See, e.g.. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (noting that to state a claim under §
1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a federal
right and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law). While
Plaintiff complains generally about the temporary stay in
segregation, he does not describe how the housing assignment
violated the Equal Protection or Due Process Clauses of the
Process Clause does not protect every change in the
conditions of confinement that has substantial and adverse
impact on the prisoner. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S.
472, 478 (1995). In Sandin, the Supreme Court
rejected the prisoner's claim that he enjoyed a liberty
interest in avoiding confinement in punitive segregation for
thirty days. Id. at 487. The Court concluded that
thirty days in segregation "did not present the type of
atypical [and] significant deprivation in which a State might
conceivably create a liberty interest." Id. at
Sandin, Plaintiff fails to describe either that
being in segregation exceeded his imposed sentence in such an
unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due
Process Clause of its own force, or both that the confinement
created an atypical or significant hardship and the state had
granted Plaintiff a protected liberty interest in remaining
free from that confinement or restraint via regulation or
statute. See Id. at 483-84; cf. Incumaa v.
Stirling. 791 F.3d 517, 520 (4th Cir. 2015) (holding a
prisoner's twenty-year assignment to segregation is an
atypical and significant hardship in relation to the general
population and implicates a liberty interest in avoiding
detention). Unlike the plaintiff in Dilworth v.
Adams, __F.3d__, 2016 WL 6575076, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS
20039 (4th Cir. 2016), Plaintiff is not a pretrial detainee,
and he received a hearing that resulted in the charge's
dismissal. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-37
(1979) (noting a pretrial detainee retains a liberty interest
in freedom from "punishment"). Furthermore,
Plaintiff cannot rely on labels and conclusions to set forth
an equal protection claim. See, e.g.,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, Plaintiff cannot
succeed on a claim of supervisory liability where there is no
underlying deprivation of a federal right. See,
e.g., Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th
Cir. 1994). Accordingly, the amended complaint fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted.
foregoing reasons, the court dismisses the amended complaint
for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be