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Lunsford v. Wythe Cty. Sheriff

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

February 19, 2019

ANTONIO LUNSFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
WYTHE CTY. SHERIFF, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge

         Antonio Lunsford, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] The matter before the court is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Wythe County Sheriff.

         I.

         In Plaintiffs amended complaint, he asserts that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by improper medical treatment and unsafe living conditions. Defendant moved to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiff failed to allege personal involvement. Plaintiff responded, and Defendant filed a reply, making this matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I will grant Defendant's motion to dismiss.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         Defendant asserts that the complaint lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Under Rule 12(b)(1), if a court determines that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case or controversy, it must dismiss the action. See Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp.. 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006). The Eleventh Amendment affords sovereign immunity to the states against suits for damages in federal court. See Bland v. Roberts, 730 F.3d 368, 389 (4th Cir. 2013). A finding of sovereign immunity precludes federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction. Hendy v. Bello, 555 Fed.Appx. 224, 226 (4th Cir. 2014). A suit against a government officer in his official capacity is considered "a suit against the official's office," and so officers acting within their authority generally also receive sovereign immunity. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Defendant also argues that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         A complaint need only contain "a short, plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations. See Vitol, S.A. v. Primerose Shipping Co., 708 F.3d 527, 539 (4th Cir. 2013); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiffs obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Stated differently, to survive a motion to dismiss, "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).

         A court need not "accept the legal conclusions drawn from the facts" or "accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship. 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, with all allegations in the complaint taken as true and all reasonable inferences drawn in the plaintiffs favor, Chao v. Rivendell Woods. Inc., 415 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2005). Rule 12(b)(6) does "not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Making the plausibility determination is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal 556 U.S. at 679.

         C. Pro Se Pleadings

         The plaintiff is proceeding pro se and, thus, entitled to a liberal construction of the pleading. See, e.g., Erickson, 551 U.S. at 90-95. However, "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). The Fourth Circuit has explained that "though pro se litigants cannot, of course, be expected to frame legal issues with the clarity and precision ideally evident in the work of those trained in law, neither can district courts be required to conjure up and decide issues never fairly presented to them." Id., at 1276; see Kalderon v. Finkelstein, No. 08 Civ 9440, 2010 WL 3359473, at *1 n.l (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 24, 2010) ("Plaintiffs complaint belongs to the everything-but-the-kitchen sink school of thought." "The complaint is extremely difficult to follow because of its extreme length and purported factual detail. The factual allegations are often repetitive, inconsistent, and contradicted by documents referenced in the complaint.").

         D. 42 ...


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