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Atkins v. Lt. Glaser

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

February 5, 2019

David Atkins, Plaintiff,
Lt. Glaser, et al, Defendants.


          Leonie M. Brinkema United States District Judge.

         David Atkins, a former Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights during his incarceration. He specifically claims that he endured defendants' use of excessive force and deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Plaintiff further alleges that defendants are responsible for the loss of his personal belongings and that defendant Sheriff Baron is liable for all other defendants' actions in his supervisory capacity. Defendants Samboy, Glaser, Williams, Cleek, and Baron have filed Motions to Dismiss, as well as memoranda in support thereof. Dkt. Nos. 10-13. Plaintiff was provided the Notice required by Local Rule 7(K) and the opportunity to file responsive materials pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). He later filed a Motion for Judgment. Dkt. No. 16. For the reasons that follow, defendant Samboy's Motion to Dismiss will be granted, defendants Glaser, Williams, Cleek, and Baron's Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiffs Motion for Judgment will be denied without prejudice, as premature. The denial of defendants Glaser, Williams, Cleek, and Baron's Motion to Dismiss is without prejudice to their ability to file a properly-supported Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         The following allegations are assumed true for the purpose of ruling on defendants' Motions to Dismiss. While plaintiff was incarcerated at Norfolk City Jail in 2014, defendant Nurse Samboy concluded that plaintiff suffered from epilepsy and added this information to his institutional medical records. Compl. § IV, p. 1. Accordingly, Nurse Samboy altered plaintiffs diet to address his apparent medical condition. Id. Plaintiff suffered seizures, headaches, and cold sweats in the time that followed. Id. Three years later, on October 21, 2017, plaintiff received a lunch tray which contained an insect. Id. at 2. Plaintiff rejected his food, notified Officer Turner, and later complied with an investigation of the incident by Lieutenant Glaser. Id. The lieutenant asked defendant Sergeant Williams to "take [plaintiff] to Section 1 where no-one could see [him]" Id. at 3. Plaintiff asked the sergeant why he was being moved, and Williams responded by attempting to "put [plaintiffs] face though [sic] the wall." Id. at 3-4.

         Once plaintiff was relocated, Lt. Glaser teased him regarding the lunch tray incident, stating that plaintiff should have eaten the bug and asked, "You wish you would have [eaten it] now, don't you?" Id. at 4. Officer Cleek then said, "Atkins I fucked that bug up, It [sic] was good, you should have eaten it. But you refused it. That was your meal." Id. at 5.

         At some point during or after this encounter, plaintiff lost and then regained consciousness due to a seizure, falling to the floor in the process. Id. Doctors at Norfolk General Hospital determined that, when plaintiff lost consciousness and fell, he chipped a bone in his left arm. Id. When plaintiff returned to Norfolk City Jail, he was denied pain medication despite the fact that it was prescribed by hospital staff Id. at 7. Additionally, plaintiff directed a letter to Sheriff Baron in which he complained about his diet at the institution and its effect on his overall health. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff was transferred to Hampton Roads Regional Jail ("HRRJ") on October 25, 2017. Id. at 9-10. During this process, plaintiff learned that Norfolk City Jail staff had lost a chain belonging to plaintiff worth $ 1, 800. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss tests whether a complaint states a cause of action upon which relief can be granted. Whether a complaint sufficiently states a claim is determined by "the familiar standard... under Fed. R Civ. P. 12(b)(6)." Sumner v. Tucker, 9 F.Supp.2d 641, 642 (E.D. Va. 1998). Accordingly, a plaintiffs alleged facts are presumed true, and the complaint should be dismissed only when "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984).

         To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged" Id. A plaintiffs allegations must "raise a right to relief above the speculative level," and "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to meet this standard. Id.

         Where a complaint is filed by a litigant acting pro se, that complaint must be construed liberally regardless of how unskillfully it is pleaded. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Such litigants are not held to the strict pleading requirements demanded of attorneys. Estelle v. Gamble. 429 U.S. 97, 106-07 (1976). Indeed, a court's "power to summarily dismiss a prisoner's pro se complaint is limited." Figgins v. Hudspeth, 584 F.2d 1345, 1347 (4th Cir. 1979).

         III. Analysis

         1. Defendant Samboy's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt No. 10]

         Prisoners are entitled to reasonable medical care and may sue prison officials under the Eighth Amendment if such care is inadequate. Estelle. 429 U.S. at 104-05. To state a claim, a plaintiff "must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Id. at 106. A plaintiff must therefore satisfy two distinct elements: first, he must allege the existence of a sufficiently serious medical need. See, e.g.. Hall v. Holsmith, 340 Fed.Appx. 944, 947 & n.3 (4th Cir. 2009) (holding that flu-like symptoms did not constitute a serious medical ...

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