United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JERMAINE D. REAVES, Plaintiff,
HAROLD W. CLARKE, ET AL., Defendants.
Jackson L. Kiser, Senior United States District Judge.
D. Reaves, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
complaining that he has been housed in segregated confinement
instead of being transferred to a prison in his home state of
New York. After review of the record, I conclude that the
defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of
is incarcerated at Wallens Ridge State Prison ("Wallens
Ridge"), a high security facility in Pound, Virginia,
operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections
("VDOC"). As defendants to this lawsuit, he names
VDOC Director Harold W. Clarke, Director of Offender
Management Services James E. Parks, and Wallens Ridge Unit
Manager Dennis R. Collins. As relief, Reaves seeks an award
of monetary damages and costs and injunctive relief directing
that he must be transferred closer to his home in New York.
alleges that a series of past events, unrelated to the
defendants in this case, have made him fearful for his safety
if he is assigned to a general population unit at a VDOC
prison. He has allegedly signed forms refusing a general
population assignment and has requested a transfer under an
Interstate Compact to a different state's prison, closer
to his home in New York. Reaves believes that he clearly
qualifies for such a transfer, but the defendants have
wrongfully maintained him in segregation for months instead.
There, he has little human contact and cannot interact with
his family, including his children. He has experienced
various emotional difficulties, an ant infestation, and
unspecified "lighting issues." (Am. Compl. 20, [ECF
No. 4].) He is allowed only two telephone calls per month.
also states that while in segregation, his "JP5 Player
(Electronic Device used for Emails to family etc.) was taken
when it malfunctioned (Not Disciplinary)."
(Id. at 10.) Officials refused to return the device
or otherwise "resolve the situation" by fixing or
replacing it. (Id. at 4, 17.)
construing the amended complaint, I find that Reaves has
asserted the following claims under § 1983: (1) he has
been held in segregated confinement for a lengthy period, in
violation of due process; (2) the defendants have failed to
transfer him outside Virginia, although he is not safe where
he is confined; and (3) his JP5 device was confiscated and
not repaired or replaced. The defendants have filed a motion
for summary judgment [ECF No. 17], and Reaves has responded.
Reaves has also filed a motion for preliminary injunctive
relief [ECF No. 6], a motion for default [ECF No. 23], and a
"Cross Motion for Summary Judgment" [ECF No. 25].
initial matter, Reaves is not entitled to default judgment.
On January 4, 2019, the clerk electronically notified the
Office of the Attorney General of Reaves' amended
complaint, pursuant to an agreement between that office and
the court. The agreement provides that the defendants who are
represented by an attorney from that office then have sixty
days to respond to the complaint. An attorney in that office
filed waivers of service for the defendants later in January
and filed an answer and a summary judgment motion on their
behalf on March 4, 2019, within the sixty-day period as
directed. Accordingly, I will deny Reaves' motion for
award of summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). For a party's evidence to
raise a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to avoid
summary judgment, it must be "such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). In making this determination, "the court is
required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in
a light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Shaw
v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994).
vicarious liability is inapplicable to ... § 1983 suits,
a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official's own individual actions,
has violated the Constitution." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). "Where a complaint
alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the
defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant
except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint
is properly dismissed, even under the liberal construction to
be given pro se complaints." Potter v. Clark,
497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974).
most, Reaves' submissions contend that the defendants, as
administrators and supervisory officials, are automatically
liable for the past assaults, the failure to transfer him
out-of-state, the months of segregated confinement its
alleged effects on him, and the confiscation and failure to
fix or replace his JP5 device. Reaves does not describe any
particular action or omission by any of the three defendants
that caused or failed to alleviate the alleged violations. He
also does not demonstrate that any of the violations he
alleges occurred pursuant to any policy for which these
defendants is responsible. Because vicarious liability does
not apply in § 1983 actions and Reaves presents nothing
more than that contention, I conclude that the defendants are
entitled to summary judgment as a matter of
Reaves' § 1983 claims do not rise to the level of
constitutional violations by anyone. First, I find no
constitutional right for Reaves to be transferred from the
VDOC to a prison in another state nearer to his home.
"Just as an inmate has no justifiable expectation that
he will be incarcerated in any particular prison within a
State, he has no justifiable expectation that he will be
incarcerated in any particular State." Qlim v.
Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983). Second, while
prison officials have a constitutional obligation to take
reasonable measures to protect inmates against assaults from
other inmates, Reaves fails to show that he is currently
confined under conditions that present that particular
hazard. Third, temporary confinement in segregation for
administrative reasons, or because of Reaves' own refusal
of a general population assignment, does not implicate his
constitutional rights, even when conditions do not mirror
those in the general population. See Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 486 (1995). Finally, Reaves has
attempted to build a § 1983 complaint comprised of
conclusory assertions that his constitutional or statutory
rights have ...