United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JAMES E. CUNNINGHAM, Plaintiff,
DANVILLE CITY JAIL, ET AL., Defendants.
E. Cunningham, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge
James E. Cunningham, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Liberally construed, his Complaint alleges that living
conditions at the local jail where he is confined violate his
constitutional rights. Upon review of the record, I find that
this lawsuit must be summarily dismissed.
is incarcerated at the Danville City Jail (“the
Jail”). Court records indicate that he is serving at
least one term of confinement for violating the terms of his
prior release under a suspended sentence. He brings this
§ 1983 action against the Jail and the City of Danville
(“the City”). The allegations in Cunningham's
Complaint are brief:
Eye sight damage according to the flores[c]ent lights or from
the lights over the years.
No outside recreation-no windows and poor or no ventilation
system, water taste[s] terrible jail under ground. No
recreation once a day
Can stay in Jail up to two years without going outside, no
church service, a stank smell from poor circulation and
Compl. 2, ECF No. 1. As relief, he seeks monetary
compensation and transfer to another facility.
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 on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). A “frivolous” claim is
one that “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325,
327 (1989) (interpreting “frivolous” in former
version of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)). To state a claim and
survive dismissal under § 1915A(b)(1), the pleading must
state sufficient facts to make it clear that a claim for
relief is not merely conceivable, but “plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007).
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). One of the
defendants Cunningham names - the Jail itself - is not a
“person” subject to suit under § 1983.
See McCoy v. Chesapeake Corr. Ctr., 788 F.Supp. 890,
893-94 (E.D. Va. 1992) (finding that a jail is not a person
for purposes of § 1983). See also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (“[A] plaintiff
must plead that each Government-official defendant, through
the official's own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution.”). Because the Jail cannot be sued under
§ 1983, I will dismiss without prejudice all claims
against this defendant under § 1915A(b)(1) as legally
also sues the City itself for the problems he has encountered
at the jail. A municipality can be sued under § 1983 for
constitutional violations committed by its employees under an
“official municipal policy of some nature.”
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S.
658, 690 (1978). Cunningham's Complaint states no facts
indicating that the lighting, recreation schedule,
ventilation system, and other undesirable conditions at the
jail have been imposed on him to implement any policy or
decision issued by City officials. Accordingly, I conclude
that his claims against the City must also be summarily
dismissed without prejudice as legally
has also filed a pleading that I construe as a Motion to
Amend. He seeks to add a claim against the Jail and the City
for denial of treatment for Hepatitis C at the Jail. Because
I conclude that the proposed amended claim is futile, I will
deny the Motion to Amend.
allegations in the Motion to Amend do not state any
actionable § 1983 claim. He does not state what symptoms
of the disease he is experiencing, when he asked for
treatment, whether such treatment could reasonably be
provided before the end of the term of confinement he is
presently serving, or what injury he will suffer from not
receiving treatment at the jail. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976) (holding that only a
prison official's deliberate indifference to inmate's
serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment). The
deliberate indifference standard “is not satisfied by .
. . mere disagreement concerning ‘[q]uestions of
medical judgment.'” Germain v. Shearin,
531 F. App'x 392, 395 (4th Cir. 2013) (unpublished)
(quoting Russell v. Sheffer, 528 F.2d 318, 319 (4th
Cir. 1975)). Thus, Cunningham's mere disagreement with
the Jail's doctor about whether or not the current stage
of his disease requires immediate treatment is not sufficient