United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
SEAN A. BROWNLEE, Plaintiff,
JEFFERY NEWCOME, Defendants.
Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge
Brownlee, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. The matter is before the Court for
evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this
Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the
Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or
(2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims based
upon "'an indisputably meritless legal theory,
'" or claims where the '"factual
contentions are clearly baseless."' Clay v.
Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)),
aff'd, 36 F.3d 1091 (4th Cir. 1994). The second
standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
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 5 A
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).
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.'" BellAtl. 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 All.
Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or
complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim,
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); lodice v. United
States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly,
while the Court liberally construes pro se
complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151
(4th Cir. 1978), it will not act as the inmate's advocate
and develop, suasponte, statutory and constitutional
claims that the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of
his or her 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).
Summary of Allegations and Claims
Complaint, Brownlee alleges:
On March 21st, 22nd, 23rd,
and the 24th 2016, my 8th Amendment
right was violated by the Riverside Regional Jail staff that
was assigned to Housing Unit 3. The institution was on
"lockdown" for an overall search, which is commonly
known as a "shakedown" by the inmates and jail
staff. It is stated in the inmate handbook that every 72
hours, we are able to take a shower, during these days we
were denied the opportunity to take a shower and [were] also
totally confined to our cell. On March 24th it was
well past 72 hours, I asked Officer Sample if it was possible
to take a shower. He said "he would see what he could
do, but don't get your hopes up." Sgt. Givens came
in to serve trays at lunch and I asked if it was possible to
serve and let us take a shower he said "sir take your
tray to your cell." Capt. Hendricks came with a VCU
student who was conducting a survey, I asked if it was
possible to take a shower he said "no, after you finish
the survey go back to your cell." So night shift comes
on, the housing unit was already searched and we [were] still
on lockdown, I and a few other inmates asked to speak with
Sgt. Jones to see if we could take showers, the officer
making rounds told us that Sgt. Jones refused to come into
the housing unit. March 25th was when we were able to take
showers. 4 days without a shower, 4 days of total
(Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.)
Court construes Brownlee's Complaint to raise the
following claim for relief:
Claim One: Defendants violated Brownlee's rights under the
Eighth Amendment by (a) denying him a shower for four days,
and (b) keeping him on lockdown in his cell for four days.
seeks injunctive relief as well as monetary damages.
(Id. at 6.)