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James v. Bailey

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

January 17, 2017

HENRY JAMES, Plaintiff,
M. BAILEY, et al., Defendants.


          John A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge

         Henry James, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] The matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants M. Bailey, S. Cain, J. Lewis, and Harold Clarke.[2] (ECF No. 12.) James has submitted a Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff s Opposition Reply to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss ("Response, " ECF No. 19). For the reasons stated below, the Court will GRANT the Motion to Dismiss.


         "A 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) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). 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).

         The 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 Atl. 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, 51A 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).


         In his Complaint, James raises claims concerning his placement in ambulatory restraints and the decision to replace his meals with diet loaf for a seven-day period. James alleges that on October 15, 2014, at approximately 12:27 p.m., "an alleged incident occurred . . . wherein Plaintiff was accused of dousing a security staff with liquid substances." (Compl. ¶ 2, ECF No. I.)[3] Afterwards, "[e]ven though Plaintiff was secured in his cell posing no form of threat to himself, security staff or others . . ., Defendant Cain cont[]acted Defendant Bailey and obtained his authorization to place Plaintiff in bodily/ambulatory restraints." (Id.)

         At 3:35 p.m., Defendant Lewis entered James's cell and placed James in the ambulatory restraints "as Defendant Cain, Lieutenant Walker and Sergeant Carver stood by watching." (Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant Lewis "secured Plaintiffs wrists in handcuffs and a lock box then placed shackles on his ankles." (Id.) Defendant Lewis then connected the shackles to the lock box with a chain and lock. (Id.) James's property was removed from his cell, and he "was stripped of his uniform/jumpsuit." (Id. ¶ 4.) James remained in the ambulatory restraints for ten hours and 45 minutes. (Id.)

         The next day, October 16, 2014, Defendant Bailey ordered that James be "placed on a loaf diet consisting of vegetables and beans baked into a dough." (Id. ¶ 5.) James received the diet loaf "twice a day for the 7 days following his release from bodily restraints." (Id. ¶ 6.)

         The Court construes James's Complaint to raise the following claims for relief:

Claim One: Defendants Bailey, Cain, and Lewis violated James's (a) rights under the Eighth Amendment[4] and (b) due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment[5] by placing him in ambulatory restraints for ten hours and 45 minutes. (Id. ¶¶ 1-4.)
Claim Two: Defendant Bailey violated James's (a) rights under the Eighth Amendment and (b) due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by ordering that James receive diet loaf for his meals for seven days following James's removal from the ambulatory restraints. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.)
Claim Three: Defendant Clarke violated James's rights because "subordinate staff to Defendant Clarke" unconstitutionally placed James in ambulatory restraints for ten hours and 45 minutes and restricted him to "diet loaf for seven days. (Id. ¶ 7.)


         To state an Eighth Amendment claim, an inmate must allege facts that indicate (1) that objectively the deprivation suffered or harm inflicted "was 'sufficiently serious, ' and (2) that subjectively the prison officials acted with a 'sufficiently culpable state of mind.'" Johnson v. Quinones, 145 F.3d 164, 167 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Wilson v. Setter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). "These requirements spring from the text of the amendment itself; absent intentionality, a condition imposed on an inmate cannot properly be called 'punishment, ' and absent severity, such punishment cannot be called 'cruel and unusual.'" Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 238 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Wilson v. Seller, 501 U.S. 294, 298-300 (1991)). "What must be [alleged] with regard to each component Varies according to the nature of the alleged constitutional violation.'" Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5(1992)).

         When an inmate challenges his conditions of confinement, he must allege "(1) a serious deprivation of a basic human need; and (2) deliberate indifference to prison conditions on the part of prison officials." Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 824 (4th Cir. 1991) (internal citation omitted) (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 301-03). Deliberate indifference requires the plaintiff to allege facts suggesting that a particular defendant actually knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to the plaintiffs person. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). "Deliberate indifference is a very high standard-a showing of mere negligence will not meet it." Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06(1976)).

[A] prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.

Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Farmer teaches "that general knowledge of facts creating a substantial risk of harm is not enough. The prison official must also draw the inference between those general facts and the specific risk of harm confronting the inmate." Quinones, 145 F.3d at 168 (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837); see Rich v. Bruce,129 F.3d 336, 338 (4th Cir. 1997) (stating same). Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, the deliberate indifference standard requires a plaintiff to assert facts sufficient to form an inference that "the official in question subjectively recognized a substantial risk of harm" and "that the official in question subjectively recognized that his actions were ...

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