United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ANTHONY L. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
DR. WIEDEMANN, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION TO
E. HUDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
L. Thompson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action. Thompson contends that
Defendants denied him adequate dental care during his
incarceration in the Greensville Correctional Center
("GCC"). The matter is before the Court on the
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 55) filed by Defendant D.Y.
Kinsley and on the Court's duties under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. Despite the provision of
Roseboro notice (ECF No. 57), Thompson has not
responded. For the reasons stated below, Defendant
Kinsley's Motion to Dismiss will be granted.
STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
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). 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.'" Bell All. 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 Atl.
Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or
complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim,
therefore, 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); Iodice 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 does not act as the inmate's
advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and
constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on
the face of his 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 RELEVANT ALLEGATIONS
Complaint (ECF No. I),  Thompson alleges that Defendant Kinsley
denied him adequate dental care during his incarceration in
the GCC, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Thompson did not
include Defendant Kinsley in the caption of his Complaint.
Rather, in his list of Defendants, he alleged the following:
"D.Y. Kinsley is currently employed [at the] Greensville
Correctional Center, and is in charge of the Law Library. She
is being sued in her individual capacity.'" (Compl.
Attach. 3.) In the body of his Complaint, Thompson alleges,
in sum: "On February 24, 2016, the grievance was
dismissed by D.Y. Kinsley as 'the issue in the grievance
is different from the issue in the informal complaint."
(Id. at 6.) Thompson identified no claim against
Defendant Kinsley in his section entitled "LEGAL
CLAIMS." (Id. at 8-11.) Thompson seeks
declaratory judgment and monetary damages. (Id. at
order to state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of
state law deprived him or her of a constitutional right or of
a right conferred by a law of the United States. See Dowe
v. Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145
F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, "[b]ecause
vicarious liability is inapplicable to ... § 1983 suits,
a plaintiff must [allege] 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). Courts must liberally
construe pro se civil rights complaints in order to
address constitutional deprivations. Gordon v.
Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978).
Nevertheless, "[principles requiring generous
construction of pro se complaints are not... without
limits." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). In his current Complaint,
Thompson fails to identify the particular constitutional
right that was violated by Defendant Kinsley's conduct.
For this reason alone, Thompson's claim against Defendant
Kinsley can be dismissed.
generously construing Thompson to argue that Defendant
Kinsley violated Thompson's Eighth Amendments rights when
she dismissed his grievance, Thompson fails to state a claim
for relief. As a preliminary matter, "there is no
constitutional right to participate in grievance
proceedings." Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75
(4th Cir. 1994) (citing Flick v. Alba, 932 F.2d 728,
729 (8th Cir. 1991)). Because Thompson enjoys no
constitutional right to participate in grievance proceedings,
his allegation that Defendant Kinsley improperly dismissed
his grievance is legally frivolous. See Banks v.
Nagle, Nos. 3:07CV-419-HEH, 3:09CV14, 2009 WL 1209031,
at *3 (E.D. Va. May 1, 2009) (citation omitted). Moreover,
simply "[r]uling against a prisoner on an administrative
complaint does not cause or contribute to the
[constitutional] violation." George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2007). To the
extent that Thompson argues that Defendant Kinsley violated
his rights by simply dismissing his grievance, this claim
will be dismissed.
respect to an allegation that Defendant Kinsley somehow
violated his Eighth Amendment rights when she dismissed a
grievance that he submitted, presumably complaining about his
dental care, Thompson fails to state a claim for relief. As a
law librarian, Thompson fails to allege that Defendant
Kinsley had any direct involvement in the decisions about
Thompson's dental care. Thus, he fails to show that she
possessed personal knowledge of Thompson's dental
treatment or particular dental needs. While an inmate's
letters to prison administrators may establish a basis for
§ 1983 liability, the plaintiff must allege facts that
suggest "that the communication, in its content and
manner of transmission, gave the prison official sufficient
notice to alert him or her to 'an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety.'" Vance v. Peters,
97 F.3d 987, 993 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)). Thompson must allege
that because of the purported grievance, Defendant Kinsley
"knew of a constitutional deprivation and approved it,
turned a blind eye to it, failed to remedy it, or in some way
personally participated." Id. at 994 (citing
Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir.
1995)). Thompson's Complaint lacks any detail about the
content or manner of transmission of his one alleged
communication to Defendant Kinsley. Thus, Thompson's
vague allegations fall short of permitting the conclusion
that his one grievance placed Defendant Kinsley on sufficient
notice of an excessive risk to Thompson's health or
safety. See Id. As such, Thompson's limited
factual allegations against Defendant Kinsley fail lo
"produce an inference of liability strong enough to
nudge the plaintiffs claims 'across the line from
conceivable to plausible.'" Nemet Chevrolet,
Ltd. v. Consumerajfcws.com, Inc.. 591 F.3d 250. 256 (4th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 683).
Thompson fails lo allege sufficiently that Defendant Kinsley
actually perceived that Thompson faced a substantial risk of
serious harm from merely denying a grievance for procedural
errors. Thus, Thompson insufficiently states an Eighth
Amendment claim against Defendant Kinsley. Accordingly, The
Motion lo Dismiss will be granted.
reasons set forth above, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 55)
will be granted. Any claim against Defendant Kinsley is