United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Douglas Jerome Thomas, Jr., Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones, United States District Judge
plaintiff, Douglas Jerome Thomas, Jr., a Virginia inmate
proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Upon review of the complaint, I
conclude that the action must be summarily dismissed.
complaint makes these allegations:
On May 17, 2019, George Lee Loving accused [Thomas] of
assaulting him with a sheet. [Thomas] was segregated for (5)
days and brought criminal charges. On June 21, 2019, the
criminal charge was dismissed due to insufficient evidence to
pursue the charge. [Thomas's] attorney informed [him]
that the Major in charge contacted the prosecutor's
office and let them know what had happened. After reviewing
the video footage of the incident, the Site Administrator of
Blue Ridge Regional Jail acknowledged no assault occurred. .
. . [Thomas has] a copy of the incident report where George
Lee Loving accuse[d Thomas] of balling the sheet up and
throwing it in his chest. . . . This incident also occur[r]ed
during the month of Ramadan. [Thomas] explained to George Lee
Loving that the sheet [he] had was being used as [his] prayer
rug. He disregarded that fact and demanded the sheet anyway.
Video footage will also show other inmates in possession of
sheets, towels, etc., yet [Thomas] was the only individual
Compl. 2-4, ECF No. 1. Thomas also alleges that without the
video footage, he “may have been punished, prosecuted,
and convicted for something that did not happen.”
Id. at 3. He contends that Loving must be
“held responsible for fabricating this incident.”
Id. at 3-4. As relief, Thomas seeks “nominal,
punitive, compensatory and an injunction.” Id.
court is required to dismiss any action or claim filed by a
prisoner against a governmental entity or officer if the
court determines the action or claim is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
1983 permits an aggrieved party to file a civil action
against a person for actions taken under color of state law
that violated his constitutional rights. Cooper v.
Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). “[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). Supervisory officials may not be
held automatically liable for the unconstitutional conduct of
their subordinates. Id. Thomas fails to describe any
action whatsoever that defendant Espinoza took in violation
of his constitutional rights and thus states no claim against
Complaint alleges that defendant Loving characterized
Thomas's actions on May 17, 2019, as an assault, but
officials reviewing the video later disagreed with this
characterization. Thomas was not prosecuted, convicted, or
punished for an assault. At the most, as a result of the
assault charge, Thomas was held in segregated confinement for
five days. Although Thomas does not identify a constitutional
right that he believes Loving's actions violated, I
construe his submission as claiming a temporary deprivation
of liberty without due process.
state a procedural due process violation, a plaintiff must
(1) identify a protected liberty or property interest and (2)
demonstrate deprivation of that interest without due process
of law.” Prieto v. Clarke, 780 F.3d 245, 248
(4th Cir. 2015). The Constitution itself does not create
“a liberty interest in avoiding transfer to more
adverse conditions of confinement.” Wilkinson v.
Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). Thus, to prove that he
had a protected liberty interest in avoiding segregated
confinement, Thomas must (a) “point to a Virginia law
or policy providing him with an expectation of avoiding the
conditions of his confinement, ” and (b)
“demonstrate that those conditions are harsh and
atypical in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison
life, ” Prieto, 780 F.3d at 252, or
“will inevitably affect the duration” of his
confinement. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487
allegations do not make the required showings. He does not
describe conditions in segregation that differed
significantly from living conditions in other sections of the
jail. Mere limitations on privileges, property, and
activities for an administratively segregated inmate
“in response to [suspected] misconduct fall within
the expected perimeters of the sentence imposed by a court of
law.” Id. at 485. Accordingly, Thomas does not
show that the brief period he spent in segregation conditions
while under investigation for an alleged assault was so harsh
or atypical as to create a protected liberty interest. Thomas
also does not allege that Loving's actions had any effect
on the duration of his confinement. Because Thomas fails to
state facts showing deprivation of any protected liberty
interest, he has stated no due process claim against Loving.
stated reasons, I will summarily dismiss this case, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.
separate Order will be ...