Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Manning v. Edmonds

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

February 5, 2018



          Hon. Glen E. Conrad, Senior United States District Judge

         Douglas R. Manning, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials have denied him access to legal materials. After review of the record, the court concludes that the defendant's motion to dismiss must be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         Manning is incarcerated at Dillwyn Correctional Center ("Dillwyn"), serving a prison sentence in the custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC"). After he filed this civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Court noted deficiencies in his complaint and directed him "to provide specific answers" to three - questions: "1. Who are the individuals who violated your constitutional rights? 2. How did these individuals violate your constitutional rights? Specify the facts upon which you rely to support this allegation. 3. What harm have you suffered from the actions of these individuals?" Order 1-2, ECF No. 2. Manning then submitted a § 1983 form that named the VDOC, Dillwyn, and Warden Edmonds as defendants, offered some description of his claims, and incorporated by reference numerous attached exhibits as factual support. The Court then transferred the case here, because Dillwyn is located in the Western District.

         Liberally construed, Manning's submissions present the following sequence of events related to his § 1983 claims.[1] In May 2015, in an incident unrelated to the defendants in this case, Manning suffered an injury that required surgery and left him "nonambulatory and confined in a wheelchair." Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. He has also been diagnosed with "spondylosis, degenerative lumbar and cervical spine and disc disease, with severe sciatica that is a chronic condition with daily consistent acute painful functional limiting symptoms." Id. When he arrived at Dillwyn in 2016, he had been prescribed 800 mg. of Neurontin for pain. A doctor at Dillwyn reduced the dosage of this medication to "300 mg X3" and also prescribed "a low mg. of eleville ... for acute pain." Id. Manning did not find this medication combination to be as effective as the higher dosage of Neurontin and filed "many request[s] and complaints for help." Id. at 4.

         At Dillwyn, Manning was assigned to a housing area for parole violators and as such, he was not allowed to go to the law library to conduct legal research. He was also not permitted to order law journals or other legal assistance manuals from outside vendors. However, he was permitted to, and did, submit written requests for copies of specific materials from the law library and has cited to many court decisions in his pleadings. In February 2016, Manning asked for a state habeas corpus form, but was provided a federal habeas form instead. Am. Compl. 16, ECF No. 5.[2] On March 15, Manning filed requests asking the library staff for: information about "the different kinds; of injunctions [and] how to file, " "the statute of limitations on filing a 'state' habeas, " a "state habeas" form instead of the federal form previously provided, two "civil injunction (Emergency)" forms, two "standard motion form[s], " and two "forma pauparis [sic] form[s]." Id. at 19-20. He did not receive any forms, other than the federal habeas one. Around the same time, Manning also requested "info pertaining to transfer (assigned security levels vs. medical conditions, " classification of medically disabled prisoners, " and information about "prisoner medically disabled protection from potential serious risk of injury." Id. at 21. The materials provided two weeks later in response to this request were, according to Manning, "very evasive and only [concerned] involuntary commitment." Id. at 21. Other particular legal - materials Manning requested were not available in the Dillwyn law library.[3] Staff suggested that he address requests for such materials to the institutional attorney.

         On March 21, 2016, Manning filed an "emergency medical injunction" and "TRO" in Buckingham County Circuit Court. Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 1. The Court Clerk did not offer any satisfactory response to Manning's request for copies of federal rules or to his questions regarding a processing date and other information about his case. On May 16, 2016, Manning also filed in his Buckingham County court case a "certified response to courts attempt to thwart processing claim." Id. at 9.

         At some point, Manning filed a request to meet with an institutional attorney at Dillwyn. He received an undated "Institutional Attorney Receipt" advising that his request had been received and that he would be notified when the institutional attorney arrived. Am. Compl. 22, ECF No. 5. The receipt also provided a name and address where Manning could write directly to the attorney if he needed "urgent legal assistance." Id. (emphasis in original). Manning met with an institutional attorney on two occasions in the spring of 2016.[4]

         On May 20, 2016, Manning wrote a request to the law library staff, stating that he could not do necessary research without accessing the law library and complaining that two attorney visits had not sufficiently helped him. Id. at 29. A law library official forwarded one of Manning's requests to an administrator, Mr. Oates, asking him to arrange for Manning to access the law library himself or to otherwise help him obtain the materials he needed. Id. Oates wrote back to Manning, asking for particulars about what his needs were. Id. at 30. On May 27, Manning responded that he needed to do research for "claims for criminal and civil cases [that he was] currently attempting to file." Id. at 31. Oates responded that a law clerk would meet with Manning to address his concerns. Id.

         In June, Manning requested a Prisoner Self-Help Litigation Manual and was told that he had been scheduled to see the institutional attorney, who would bring the requested material. When Manning saw Institutional Attorney Thomas on September 8, 2016, Thomas said "he was not made aware, said he didn't even know what a Prisoner Self Help Manual was and if he did he couldn't give it to [Manning] because he don't get reimbursed for buying books or making copies of them to give" away. Id. at 7. Thomas asked Manning to explain his legal problem and then advised him, "give up, you[']ll never win." Id.

         Manning filed an informal complaint on September 8, 2016, stating:

It is evident from my initial request dated 5-20-16, I need access to the tools necessary to do meaningful research for legal cases pending and to be submitted. My initial need request was sent to the Operations Manager, who then repeated my need and forwarded this to Mr. Oates. As you can clearly see, Mr. Oates is not able to comprehend because he sent me his routing and transmittal slip on 5-24-16 asking what do I need? 5-27-16 I sent the same request back to him, he diverts the problem back to Mrs. Harris and this circle goes on and on. Mrs. Harris did send a Library Aid to see me in Mr. Huddleston's office and he did bring a Georgetown Law Journal and said/that he was told by Mrs. Harris to show it to me to pick a case and bring it back and that's it. This Library Aid went to school to study Paralegal things. After listening to my need, he said that even in his opinion, that I needed physical access and also professional help or I would not be able to adequately research, sir.

Id. at 38. The response to this complaint was another appointment with the institutional attorney.

         Dissatisfied, Manning then filed a regular grievance on September 14, stating that he had "filed request to law library concerning access to material that may provide adequate knowledge of how to research, present, and litigate cases and[/]or criminal/civil case to the court; several times to several dept.'s. All return me to Inst. Attorney which has proven to be ineffective at the least." Id. at 39. In response to the question on the grievance form, "What action do you want taken?" Manning wrote: ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.