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Robinson v. Whitehead

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

March 19, 2019

SGT. WHITEHEAD, et al., Defendants.



         Lester R. Robinson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] The action proceeds on Robinson's Second Particularized Complaint ("Complaint," ECF No. 12) against Defendants Sgt. Whitehead, Officer Tirinado, and Lt. Ward.[2]The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. For the reasons set forth, the action will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim except for the excessive force claim against Defendants Whitehead and Tirinado.


         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. MyIan 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 sponle 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).


         In his Complaint, Robinson provides the following summary of his claims:

At 10:48, I just finished stopping a gang from bullying a gay guy. Discrimination and intimidation was at full effect at that moment. I thought Sgt. Whitehead could come and assist me with the matter that I honestly prevented.
Its Ramadan holy time for us Muslims. Mr. Whitehead commanded me to come down the steps very rudely. I ask him to please come up the steps that leads straight to my room that I was three cell rooms down in front of the steps. Now rumor has it that [he is an] abusive officer. I was not trying to test him nor did I believe in rumors unless I see [them] firsthand.
Sgt. Whitehead ran up the steps and ordered me to get down on the floor, reaching for his pepper-spray. Sgt. Whitehead's body weight [is] eas[ily] 280 and I weight about 185 as he pins his knee on my face and neck with the other knee on my spine.
I'm positively sure this was on camera. I was already handcuffed from behind, I push saying, sir this excessive force is not necessary. Sgt. Whitehead decide to pick me up out of impulse 3ft in [the] air and then power drive me down to the ground of the hard concrete using the pressure point of his body against mine in front of Officer [Tirinado]. Blood came out of my gums in a nice puddle to fill about half of a cup 8oz water about 4oz violating my Eighth Amendment right, maliciously assaulting me and failure to protect.
I went to surgery because he crushed my jaw [on the] right side that was broken before 20 years ago which the date of surgery was 10-16-2018. 1 received three bogus charges 154 Failure to Follow Rules, they did an illegal body search, and did search my private possessions in front of me, my roommate, and violated my Fourteenth Amendment rights.
I was found guilty on appeal and was held past my release date because the Administration abused their authority by not responding to none of my request, complaints, as well as ...

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