United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
WILLIAM D. BATTLE, Plaintiff,
J. LEDFORD, et al., Defendants.
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge
William D. Battle, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging that the defendants used excessive force
against him and denied related grievances and appeals.
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and Battle
responded, so this matter is ripe for disposition. Having
considered the record, the court concludes that Battle's
allegations fail to state a claim against defendants Holloway
and Hinkle and that defendants' motion for summary
judgment must be granted as to Battle's excessive force
alleges that on December 6, 2013, defendants Ledford and
Edwards used excessive force against him during transport.
Thereafter, Battle was charged with a disciplinary infraction
for assaulting an officer during the same incident. Battle
was found “guilty” of the disciplinary
infraction, and he appealed. Defendant Warden Holloway denied
Battle's appeal on February 18, 2014. Battle also alleges
that defendants Holloway and Hinkle denied Battle's
administrative grievances and appeals concerning the alleged
excessive force used against Battle. Battle's last
administrative appeal was denied on February 27, 2014.
undisputed that Battle filed his complaint on January 11,
2016. In their motion for summary judgment, defendants argue
that Battle's complaint is untimely filed and fails to
state a cognizable federal claim against defendants Holloway
and Hinkle. For the following reasons, the court will dismiss
alleges that defendant Holloway denied Battle's appeal of
his disciplinary conviction and that defendants Holloway and
Hinkle denied Battle's administrative grievances and
appeals concerning the alleged excessive force. The court
finds that Battle's allegations do not demonstrate a
violation of a federal right and, therefore, will dismiss the
claims against defendants Holloway and Hinkle pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(3)(2)(B)(ii).
state a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must
establish that he has been deprived of rights guaranteed by
the constitution 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 (1988). “Ruling against a prisoner on an
administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to [a
constitutional] violation, ” George v. Smith,
507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007), and inmates do not have a
constitutionally protected right in the grievance procedure,
see, e.g., Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d
72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, defendants Holloway and
Hinkle are not liable under § 1983 for their responses
to the grievances or appeals. See Brown v. Va. Dep't
Corr., No. 6:07cv33, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12227, at *8,
2009 WL 87459, at *13 (W.D. Va. Jan. 9, 2009); see also
Brooks v. Beard, 167 F. App'x 923, 925 (3d Cir.
2006) (holding allegations that prison officials and
administrators responded inappropriately to inmate's
later- filed grievances do not establish the involvement of
those officials and administrators in the alleged underlying
deprivation). Moreover, to the extent Battle alleges that
defendants Holloway and Hinkle failed to investigate his
claims, his allegations fail to state a claim. See
Charles v. Nance, 186 F. App'x 494, 495 (5th Cir.
2006) (holding that alleged failure to investigate a
grievance “fails to assert a due process
violation”); Sweat v. Rennick, No. 9:11-2908,
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55200, at *5, 2012 WL 1358721, at *2
(D.S.C. Feb. 7, 2012) (“Plaintiff's complaint that
this Defendant has not properly investigated his claims . . .
fails to set forth a claim for a violation of a
constitutional right.”); Lewis v. Williams,
Nos. 05-13, 05-51, 05-52, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8444, at
*18-19, 2006 WL 538546, at *7 (D. Del. Mar. 6, 2006)
(“[T]he failure to investigate a grievance does not
raise a constitutional issue.”).
extent Battle's complaint could be construed as alleging
that he was denied due process at his disciplinary hearing,
his allegations fail to state a claim. First, Battle does not
allege how any of the named defendants denied him due process
at the hearing. Moreover, to establish a violation of
procedural due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment, an inmate must demonstrate a deprivation of
“life, liberty, or property” by governmental
action, which Battle has not done. Beverati v.
Smith, 120 F.3d 500, 502 (4th Cir.1997). When the
punishment does not cause the original sentence to be
enhanced, protected interests will generally be limited to
freedom from restraint that imposes 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). Battle does not allege that as a result of his
disciplinary conviction, the sanction imposed enhanced his
sentence or constituted an atypical or significant hardship
on Battle in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life. Therefore, Battle's allegations do not state a due
process violation concerning the disciplinary hearing.
Further, no due process right attaches to the administrative
appeals process. See Riccio v. Cnty. of Fairfax, 907
F.2d 1459, 1469 (4th Cir. 1990); Chambers v. Wilson,
No. 1:15cv646, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23454, at *13, 2016 WL
775779, at * (E.D. Va. Feb. 24, 2016) (“To the extent
the ruling may be administratively appealed, a prisoner has
no federal due process rights in the appeal process”)
(citation omitted). Accordingly, the court concludes that
Battle's allegations fail to state a claim against
defendants Holloway and Hinkle, and, therefore, will dismiss
Battle's claim against them.
alleges that defendants Ledford and Edwards used excessive
force against him in 2013. The court finds that these claims
are untimely filed and, therefore, will grant defendants'
motion for summary judgment.
purposes of the statute of limitations, § 1983 actions
are considered personal injury claims and are governed by the
personal injury statute of limitations and tolling laws in
the state where the alleged injury occurred. Lewis v.
Richmond City Police Dep't, 947 F.2d 733, 735 (4th
Cit. 1991) (citing Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261,
280 (1985)). Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations
for general, personal injury claims. Va. Code §
8.01-243(A); Almond v. Kent, 459 F.2d 200, 203-04
(4th Cir. 1972). Under these principles, a plaintiff bringing
a civil rights action under § 1983 in Virginia must do
so within two years from the time when his action
case, Battle's excessive force claims accrued on December
6, 2013. Battle filed this action on January 11, 2016, more
than two years after the alleged excessive force claims
accrued. Accordingly, the court finds that Battle's
excessive force claims against defendants Ledford and Edwards
are barred by the statute of limitations; ...