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Parker v. Keen

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

April 4, 2017


          Courtney Parker, Pro Se Plaintiff.


          James P. Jones United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff, Courtney Parker, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Parker alleges that Virginia prison officials have disregarded his safety and caused him injury through deliberate indifference in connection with a vehicle accident. After review of Parker's submissions, I conclude that this action must be summarily dismissed.


         Parker makes the following statement of facts on which he bases his claims under § 1983:

On 05-11-16, between approximately 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., I was being transferred from Keen Mountain Correctional Center. . . . I was handcuffed and shackled to be transferred. . . . I made a statement to the driver of the tansport [sic] vehicle, (Defendant Keen), about the bus not having seat belts, for which he stated that I will be “alright, ” that I “don't need no seat belt, I will need a bag to throw up in though.” I reached my seat and was sitting on the left side of the bus, the seat closest to the aisle. During the transport, the bus came to an instant stop, where I heard a hug [sic] crashing sound while at the same time being thrown from my seat to the floor of the bus, hitting my head and neck area on the metal part of the seat attachment. After gathering myself from the dizziness and pain I was feeling, I got up to look at what happened and seen that the bus had ran into the back of a parked van at Bland Correctional Center where we were supposed to change transportation vehicles. After the accident I instantly reported to the bus driver that I was thrown from the seat and hit my head and neck on the landing. I was told that I would be okay. I was then told to get off the bus to change vehicles, and the driver of the . . . bus simply left us there without reporting the accident or my injuries. I then was put on the River North Correctional Center bus where I instantly told that bus driver of what happen and the pain I was feeling and was assured that I would receive medical attention upon arrival at River North. I suffered serious migranes [sic] and dizziness the entire ride to River North Correctional Center where after I arrived, I again reported my pain and the injuries I had suffered from the bus accident. Medical staff eventually spoke to me about the pain and what had happened and I was given pain medication and an appointment to get an x-ray taken. Ever since this incident, I have been having daily migranes [sic] that are unbearable at times, constant pain in my neck and back, and when I am asleep, if I am laying a certain way, the whole right side of my body goes numb to the point I cannot feel or move my arm or hand for long periods after waking up. Since the accident I have been put on ibuprofen and tydel, (a muscle relaxer), for the intense pain I have been having.[1]

Compl. 3-4, ECF No. 1. Parker alleges deliberate indifference to his safety and his medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, he contends that Keen Mountain Correctional Center staff caused the accident and River North Correctional Center staff provided negligent medical treatment because of the time it took them to treat him after he reported his injuries to them. As defendants, Parker names Officer Keen, D. Wells, and B. Walls, Institutional Ombudsman. He seeks monetary and injunctive relief.


         Section 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.

         The Complaint mentions the names of defendants Wells and Walls only in the heading of the Complaint form. Parker does not state any facts concerning specific actions either of these defendants undertook, personally, in violation of his constitutional rights. Because Parker does not show that each of these defendants, through his or her own “individual actions [or inactions], has violated the Constitution” or caused others to violate it, he fails to state any actionable § 1983 claim against Wells and Walls. Id. at 676. Accordingly, his § 1983 claims against them must be dismissed under § 1915A(b)(1).[2]

         Parker's Complaint also states no constitutional claim against Officer Keen for his actions. To state a prima facie § 1983 claim that a

prison condition[ ] violate[d] the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show both (1) a serious deprivation of a basic human need; and (2) deliberate indifference to prison conditions on the part of prison officials. . . . [T]he first showing requires the court to determine whether the deprivation of the basic human need was objectively sufficiently serious, and the second requires it to determine whether subjectively the officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.

Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1379 (4th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). For purposes of this opinion, I will assume from Parker's allegations about his injuries in the bus accident and seemingly related pain thereafter that he has stated a sufficiently serious deprivation to satisfy the first facet of the Eighth Amendment standard.

         Under the second facet of that standard, however, Parker falls short. In a conditions claim, a ‘“sufficiently culpable state of mind'” requires demonstrating deliberate indifference - by stating facts showing that the defendant knew a particular action or condition presented a substantial or excessive risk of serious harm and, nevertheless, failed to take “reasonable measures” to alleviate that risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 847 (1994) (citation omitted). An official's merely negligent action is not sufficient to give rise to a constitutional claim and, accordingly, is not actionable under § 1983. See Cty. of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 849 (1998) ...

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