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.

Hinton v. Mason

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

April 12, 2018

MASON, et al., Defendants.


          John A. Gibney Jr., Judge.

         Donald Lee Hinton, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] In his Particularized Complaint ("Complaint, " ECF No. 15), Hinton contends that Defendants Mason, the Food Service Manager at Lawrenceville Correctional Center ("LCC"), and Defendant Edward Wright, the Warden at LCC, violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to investigate an incident where Hinton received a bloody napkin. The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.


         Pursuant 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)). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         "A 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 5A 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).

         The 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 Atl. 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).


         Hinton's initial Complaint ("Initial Complaint, " ECF No. 1), indicated on its first page that it was brought pursuant to "42 USC § 1983 to remedy the deprivation, under color of state law, of rights guaranteed by the First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment[s] to the United States Constitution." (Init. Compl. 1 .)[2] However, in the statement of his claims, he alleged that defendants' conduct amounted to reckless endangerment and gross negligence, but he failed to identify how that conduct violated the Constitution. Accordingly, by Memorandum Order entered on January 26, 2018, the Court directed Hinton to particularize his Initial Complaint. The Court noted that Hinton's allegations were repetitive, conclusory, and failed to provide each defendant with fair notice of the facts and legal basis upon which his or her liability rests. See Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

         In his latest Particularized Complaint ("Complaint"), Hinton mostly complied with the Court's directives; however, he lacks a section containing a comprehensive statement of the facts giving rise to his claims. Instead, the facts are scattered throughout the Complaint and are extremely repetitive making it difficult for the Court to provide a concise summary. Moreover, the Complaint is long on legal conclusions and short on facts related to the named Defendants.[3] Accordingly, the Court has parsed the Complaint and makes a list of pertinent facts as follows:[4]

1. On "August 24, 2016, during afternoon chow, Hinton sat down to eat, after eating, Hinton unwrap[ped] a napkin that was around a plastic fork." (Compl. ¶ 26.) Hinton "grab[bed] the napkin and proceed[ed] to wipe his mouth constantly [and] he notice[d] blood on the napkin." (Id. ¶ 27.) "Hinton wipe[d] his mouth twice with a bloody napkin." (Id. ¶ 45.)
2. "Officer Harrison went to the back of the kitchen [and] explained to the Kitchen Supervisor Mrs. Mason about the incident" and Mason said "she did not have time to talk to her" and "Mason never came out to investigate the situation, nor seen the napkin." (Id. ¶¶ 28-29).
3. On "September 1, 2016, Hinton prepared an Informal Complaint... about the contaminated napkin." (Id. ¶ 35.) Supervisor D. Burke responded that "I spoke to Mrs. Mason and the linemen; both said they [had] seen the napkin [and] both said it was tomato paste from the beans." (Id. ¶ 36.)
4. Hinton filed a second Informal Complaint "to Warden Edward Wright and he transferred that complaint to Hinton's building Unit Manager J. Streat to look into the incident." (Id. ¶ 39.) Streat "call[ed] Hinton to his office to explain to him what happened [on] August 24, 2016 in the chow hall [and] Hinton explained the incident. (Id. ¶ 40.)
5. Streat spoke with Defendant Mason who said "she examine[d] the napkin [and] it was tomato paste. Mason lied, she never came out, neither her nor the linemen investigated the napkin." (Id. ¶ 41.)
6. By finding Hinton's Informal Complaint unfounded, Defendant Wright was "[b]asically calling Hinton a liar . . . show[ing] the courts the gross negligence and deliberate indifference to Hinton's health and safety and the conduct of Warden Ed Wright of this horrible ...

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.