United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Zackary Alan Cooley, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge
Alan Cooley, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that he slipped on ice and was injured. Upon review
of the record, I find that the action must be summarily
dismissed for failure to state a claim.
is incarcerated at Pocahontas Correctional Center
(“PCC”). He alleges that on the morning of
November 27, 2018, as he was walking between buildings at PCC
and “approached Gate 2 [he] slipped on a patch of ice
and fell face first into the Gate. There were no caution
signs and no ice melt on the sidewalks.” Compl. Attach.
B, ECF No. 1. Within ten minutes, prison staff came to help
Cooley. He was taken to a hospital and underwent an X ray. He
alleges that since this incident, he has “had trouble
with [his] neck as well as psychological and emotional
distress. [He] suffer[s] from a long history of mental
illness and this has caused it to be harder on [him].”
filed this § 1983 lawsuit in August of 2019. He names as
defendants Health Authority, Yates; Assistant Warden, R.
Waltz; QMHP, Murphy; and Major Bishop. Compl. Attach. A, ECF
No. 1. He does not state what relief he seeks in this case.
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). The 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 could be granted.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Plaintiff's
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, ” to one that is
“plausible on its face, ” rather than merely
“conceivable.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007).
§ 1983 case, “liability will only lie where it is
affirmatively shown that the official charged acted
personally in the deprivation of the plaintiffs'
rights.” Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928
(4th Cir. 1977); Swint v. City of Wadley, 51 F.3d
988, 999 (11th Cir. 1995) (explaining that 42 U.S.C. §
1983 “require[s] proof of an affirmative causal
connection between the official's acts or omissions and
the alleged constitutional deprivation”). “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.” Lewis-Bey v.
Wilson, No. 3:17CV763, 2019 WL 4889261, at *3 (E.D. Va.
Oct. 3, 2019) (quoting Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d
1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974)).
Complaint lists the defendants, but it does not describe any
action or omission committed by any of them in violation of
his rights. Thus, he has not demonstrated the necessary
personal action and causation required for a § 1983
claim against any of them. Moreover, while I sympathize with
Cooley's pain and suffering, the event that allegedly
caused his distress simply was not a violation of his
Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment “protects inmates from inhumane treatment
and conditions while imprisoned.” Williams v.
Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). “An
official's failure to alleviate a significant risk that
he should have perceived but did not, while no cause for
commendation, cannot under our cases be condemned as the
infliction of punishment.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). In other words, an official's
merely negligent action or inaction is not sufficient to give
rise to a constitutional claim and, accordingly, is not
actionable under § 1983. Cty. of Sacramento v.
Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 849 (1998) (“[T]he
Constitution does not guarantee due care on the part of state
officials; liability for negligently inflicted harm is
categorically beneath the threshold” of constitutional
allegations, at the most, suggest that PCC staff members were
negligent in failing to post warning signs about the ice or
to clear it. Such mere negligence cannot support a claim of
unconstitutional punishment so as to be actionable under
reasons stated, I will summarily dismiss this action,
pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1), for failure to state a claim.
separate Final Order will be entered herewith.