United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION TO
E. HUDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Keith Smith, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. The matter is before the Court on the Motion to
Dismiss filed by Defendants Wanda Rollins and C. Webb. For
the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
23) will be granted.
STANDARD FOR A 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); 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).
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).
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 BellAtl.
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 ALLEGATIONS
brings his Particularized Complaint ("Complaint, "
ECF No. 19) against three individuals who work at Sussex II
State Prison ("SUSP"): Wanda Rollins, a Unit
Manager; C. Webb, a Corrections Personal Property Officer;
and Dr. Inder Jeet Singh Gujral. He alleges that various
actions by these defendants violated his rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
Pertinent Allegations with Respect to Smith's Due Process
April 11, 2016, Rollins and Webb came to search Smith's
cell. (Compl. 5.) Rollins and Webb had concerns about
Smith's excessive amount of personal property.
(Id. at 5-6.) Rollins instructed another
correctional officer to remove all of Smith's personal
property from the cell and place it on a table in the pod.
(Id. at 6.) Smith informed Rollins and Webb
"that the bulk of the property consisted of legal
material... that [was] part of his ongoing post-conviction
challenge and upcoming medical lawsuit against her and
medical officials for refusing to provide him with a
wheelchair pusher and denial of adequate medical care."
(Id.) Smith advised Rollins and Webb of the prison
policy concerning personal property and his belief that he
had abided by that policy. (Id. at 7.)
told Smith that he had thirty minutes to go through his
property and retrieve the files he needed because the rest
was going to be thrown away. (Id. at 8.) Smith then
sorted through his property, but was "unable to locate
his lawsuit, which he had already drafted ... as well as all
associated notes and supporting documents ...."
(Id. at 9.) After about thirty or forty minutes,
Rollins told Webb and the other correctional officers to
throw away the remainder of Smith's property.
(Id. at 10.) Smith pleaded with Rollins not to take
this action as it would interfere with his post-conviction
challenges and his lawsuit. (Id.) Rollins responded,
"You gotta do what you gotta do."
Pertinent Allegations with Respect to the Denial of Medical
suffers from chronic degenerative joint disease.
(Id. at 14.) "His medical condition has
confined him to a permanent wheelchair assignment for
mobility outside of the building." (Id.) As of
2011, Smith was assigned a "permanent wheelchair with an
inmate 'caretaker' to assist [Smith] with mobility
outside of the housing unit." (Id. at 15.)
Sometime later, Dr. Gujral began to supervise Smith's
medical care. (Id. At 15-16.) After ordering x-rays,
Dr. Gujral concluded that Smith only had a mild case of
arthritis. (Id. at 16.) Dr. Gujral prescribed
Motrin, Tylenol, and anti-inflammatory medication.
(Id.) Following Dr. Gujral's supervision of
Smith's medical care, Smith's pain has increased and
his mobility has decreased. (Id.)
Gujral refused to issue a medical detail for a caretaker and
Defendant Rollins refused to assign one without a medical
detail." (Id. at 17.) Defendant Rollins
dismissed Smith's caretaker. (Id. at 16.) Smith
is the only inmate at his prison "confined to a
wheelchair without an assigned caretaker to assist him . . .
." (Id. at 17.) Smith insists that ...