United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Demetric Venable, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge
plaintiff, Demetric Venable, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, filed this prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Venable alleges that Virginia jail officials do
not protect him from exposure to second-hand smoke, deprived
him of good conduct time without due process, and are holding
him in segregated confinement without cause. After review of
Venable's submissions, I conclude that this action must
be summarily dismissed.
a prisoner at the Danville Adult Detention Center
(“DADC”) makes the following brief allegations in
This is a smoking facility with no non-smoking pods, not
giving me the option not to be exposed to second hand smoke
and jeopardizing my future health.
. . . I was found guilty of an institutional charge that took
my good time without allowing me to face my accuser or
present a witness I felt could have helped me beat that
. . . I have constantly been harassed by administration. I
cannot go outside to recreation. I have been left on
administrative seg for periods of time and I was told my
inmate account had a hold until I received a quran.
(Compl. 2, ECF No. 1.) Venable sues DADC Director Frank
Mardavich, Major Roland Witcher, and Captain Walker, seeking
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). An inmate's
complaint may be summarily dismissed under this section if it
fails to allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Giarratano
v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). In determining whether the complaint states a claim,
a court must view the factual allegations in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, but “need not accept as
true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments.” Id. at 302 (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted).
1983 permits an aggrieved party to file a civil action
against a person for actions taken under color of state law
that violated his constitutional rights. See Cooper v.
Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). Thus, a
§ 1983 plaintiff “must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009).
“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.” Id. at 678.
Complaint mentions the names of his defendants only in the
heading of the complaint form. He does not state any facts
concerning specific actions any of these defendants
undertook, personally, in violation of his constitutional
rights. Because Venable does not show that each defendant,
through his own “individual actions [or inactions], has
violated the Constitution” or caused others to violate
it, he fails to state any actionable § 1983 claim
against any of these defendants. Id. at 676;
Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 373 (4th Cir. 1984)
(holding that supervisory liability under § 1983
requires showings that official had actual or constructive
knowledge of risk of constitutional injury and was
deliberately indifferent to that risk, and that there is an
affirmative causal link between the injury and supervisory
official's inaction). Accordingly, his § 1983 claims
are subject to dismissal under § 1915A(b)(1). In any
event, Venable's allegations do not state any § 1983
claim against anyone.
his Complaint does not provide the necessary elements of a
claim of unconstitutional living conditions. The Complaint
includes no facts suggesting that exposure to second-hand
smoke has caused Venable “a serious or significant
physical or emotional injury”; nor has he alleged that
his particular health issues, term of confinement, or housing
assignments at DADC create a “substantial risk”
that he will suffer “such serious harm” from
second-hand smoke during his incarceration
there. Shakka v. Smith, 71 F.3d 162, 166
(4th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and citation
Venable's complaints about his disciplinary hearing do
not implicate any constitutional right. “Prison
disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal
prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant
in such proceedings does not apply.” Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). At such a
proceeding, an inmate is entitled to call witnesses only when
consistent with institutional safety and correctional goals
and does not have a constitutional right to confront or
cross-examine the witnesses against him. Id. at
566-68. Thus, the hearing officer's refusal to allow
Venable to cross-examine a witness against him or to obtain
testimony from a requested witness does not support a federal
due process claim.
Venable does not prove any constitutional claim related to
his term in segregated confinement. Temporary segregated
confinement implicates federal due process protection only if
conditions there “impose[ ] atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S.
472, 484 (1995). Venable fails to allege facts showing that