United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Benjamin Manns, Pro Se Plaintiff;
Benjamin D. Johnson, Johnson, Ayers & Matthews P.L.C.,
Roanoke, Virginia, for Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones United States District Judge
plaintiff, Benjamin Manns, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, brought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. He alleges that because of his race, a jail official
did not allow him telephone calls to arrange a furlough for a
family member's funeral. The defendants have filed a
Motion to Dismiss, and Manns has responded. After review of
the record, I conclude that the defendants' motion must
be granted in part and denied in part.
an African-American, was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee
at the Patrick County Jail in the fall of 2017. On September
11, 2017, Manns learned from a newspaper obituary that his
father-in-law had died. Manns had enjoyed a close
relationship with his father-in-law. For three days, Manns
made verbal and written requests to jail officials, asking to
use the telephone to call to his family about the death and
about arranging for a lawyer to obtain a court-ordered
funeral furlough. Jail officials, who are all white, ignored
Manns' requests for telephone calls and for grievance
forms. By contrast, a white inmate had been immediately
granted an opportunity to call his family after learning that
his nephew had died.
September 14, Manns asked Lieutenant Jones for a grievance
form, and the officer refused to provide one. Manns filed
handwritten documents titled “Formal Complaint
Form” and “Grievance Form, ” complaining
about all of these frustrations. ECF No. 11. In response to
one of these complaints, an officer wrote: “Lt Jones
was asked about you coming up and using the phone . . . and
he said no.” Id.
construed, Mann's submissions assert that: (1) Lieutenant
Jones discriminated against Manns on the basis of race by
denying him telephone access with family to arrange for a
funeral furlough, (2) Jones denied Manns a grievance form;
and (3) these violations of Manns' rights occurred
because Dan Smith, the Patrick County Sherriff, failed to
train and supervise his subordinates. Manns argues that these
actions violated his federal and state constitutional rights.
The defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Manns
district court should dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6)
if, accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint
as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences in the
plaintiff's favor, the complaint does not allege
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly. 550 U.S. at
570. To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege “the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show
that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting
under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
well established that “inmates have no constitutional
entitlement or due process interest in access to a grievance
procedure.” Booker v. S.C. Dep't of Corr.,
855 F.3d 533, 541 (4th Cir. 2017). Thus, Manns has no
federally protected interest or constitutional entitlement to
the jail's grievance procedures. I will grant the
defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to Manns' §
1983 claims about his inability to file grievances.
also dismiss Manns' claims under state law. He states
merely that “Defendants Smith and Jones actions also
violated Article 1, sections 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12 of
Virginia's Constitution.” Compl. 5, ECF No. 1-1.
Manns offers no indication that he has a private right of
action under these provisions by which to raise separate,
supplemental state law claims of race discrimination or
denial of access to a grievance procedure. See, e.g., Doe
v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason Univ., 132
F.Supp.3d 712 (E.D. Va. 2015) (explaining limitations on
private right of action under Virginia Constitution). I may
not undertake to construct such claims for him. See,
e.g., Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir.
1993) (“While the courts liberally construe pro se
pleadings as a matter of course, judges are not also required
to construct a party's legal arguments for
also cannot prevail on any claim for monetary damages against
the defendants in their official capacities. See Will v.
Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989). I
will grant the defendants' motion as to all official
capacity claims. I will consider separately Manns' other
claims against the defendants in their personal capacities.
have no specific constitutional right to a furlough, whether
for visitation of sick relatives or attendance of
funerals.” Hipes v. Braxton, 878 F.Supp. 56,
57 (W.D. Va. 1995). They do, however, “retain their
First Amendment rights to communicate with family and
friends, ” and to reasonable access to the telephone
for that purpose, subject to limitations related to security
or other legitimate penological concerns. Washington v.
Reno, 35 F.3d 1093, 1100 (6th Cir. 1994). Moreover,
inmates are entitled to equal protection of the law, and even
an otherwise ...