United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge
Welty, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. The matter is proceeding on Welty's
Fourth Particularized Complaint ("Complaint," ECF
No. 94) against Pete Meletis, George Hurlock, and Glendell
Hill ("Defendants"). Meletis is the Superintendent
of the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention
Center ("ADC"). (ECF No. 1, at 2.) Hurlock is the
Director of Security at the ADC. (Id. at 3.) Hill is
the Chairman of the Prince William-Manassas Jail Board.
(Id. at 4.) The matter is before the Court on
Defendants* Motion to Dismiss and the Court's obligation
to review prisoner actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Welty has responded. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 98) will be GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
STANDARD FOR 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 Bell Atl.
Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or
complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim,
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 will not
act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua
sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the
inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint.
See Brock v. Carroll, 107F.3d241, 243 (4th Cir.
1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
SUMMARY OF PERTINENT ALLEGATIONS
January 5, 2015, Welty was incarcerated in the ADC. (Compl.
1.) Welty was detained in the main jail of ADC
("MJ"), block 31. (Id.) At approximately
9:45 p.m., Welty was standing in the middle of the dayroom
when he was assaulted by an unknown inmate or inmates.
(Id.) The beating went on for roughly 45 minutes,
until Welty's unconscious body was discovered by ADC
was awoken by ADC staff. (Id. at 2.) Welty was
transported to a local hospital. (Id. at 3.) Welty
required in excess of a dozen stitches and sustained deep
bruising to his pubic area and penis. [Id. at 1-2.)
was returned to ADC, Welty was placed in cell 25.
(Id. at 4.) "The two inmates that were in cell
25 were moved to 26. One of the inmates was Patterson, AKA
Beast, a known Blood gang member. Patterson was in 31 at the
time of the attack." (Id. at 4.) Sergeant
Delany asked Welty if "any inmates tried to help him
from the floor. Patterson was said to have a fresh wound with
blood all over his hands. [Patterson] claimed they came from
helping Welty up. Patterson was in jail for murder."
Security in the ADC Dayrooms
According to Welty:
There was/is no reasonable security within MJ 3I... i.e., no
security cameras, intercoms, staff presence, staff does not
enter dayrooms on security walks, only 3 (three) small
observation windows (one 2' x 3' and two 2' x
2') whose size and positioning "hinder"
visibility, dim lights in the dayroom(s) while hall lights
are kept bright creating a mirror effect preventing staff
vision, extreme architectural design flaws preventing
visibility, inmates see staff coming long before being seen.
(Id. at 2.) Welty contends that because of the lack
of monitoring in the dayrooms, inmates know they are
"free to commit acts of violence" as "the only
form of inmate monitoring is through
Defendants' Knowledge Regarding the Security in the ADC
contends that Defendants "Hurlock and Meletis have had
20 (twenty) plus years [of] prior knowledge" of the
above conditions. (Id.) Welty contends that
Defendant "Hill's knowledge has been for an unknown
amount of years ...." (Id.)
Allegations Pertaining to Grievances
presents the following allegations regarding grievances that
he filed after the assault:
In July 2016, ADC Major Osborne and Defendant Hurlock visited
Welty in protective custody concerning a large number of
grievances he was filing and to discuss their nature. Each
pertained to a specific part of the attack on Welty. After
learning the information was going to be used for litigation
they said they were all being voided and not to file anymore.
For this Obsorne told Welty via memo that in order to file a
grievance he must request permission to do so from Sgt.
Fenner only by written request. Sgt. Fenner is then to view
the grievance and decide whether to allow the grievance to be
filed. This is gross abuse of policy which is located in the