United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge
Andrew Stevens, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that a correctional officer denied him
breakfast on December 15, 2018, and that other defendants
failed to correct the correctional officer's
“misconduct” after Stevens filed grievances
concerning the missed breakfast. Stevens does not allege that
he was denied any other meals that day or on any other day.
The court finds that Stevens' allegations fail to rise to
the level of a constitutional claim and, therefore, dismisses
his complaint without prejudice.
Eighth Amendment, applicable to the states through the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits
“cruel and unusual punishment” of those convicted
of crimes. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991)
(citing Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 666
(1962)). In Wilson, the Court identified two
elements necessary to support an Eighth Amendment claim
challenging prison conditions: first, an objective element,
i.e., whether the deprivation was sufficiently serious to
constitute cruel and unusual punishment; and second, a
subjective element, i.e., whether the officials acted with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind. Id. To meet the
objective element, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient
to show either that he has sustained a serious or significant
mental or physical injury as a result of the challenged
conditions or that the conditions have created an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future health.
Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1380-81 (4th
Cir. 1993); Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25 (1993).
of inadequate prison food service may be sufficient to state
a cognizable claim under § 1983 if the deprivation is
serious. Shrader v. White, 761 F.2d 975, 986 (4th
Cir. 1985); Bolding v. Holshouser, 575 F.2d 461, 465
(4th Cir. 1978) (prisoner's allegation of failure to
provide adequate sanitary food service facilities states a
cognizable claim); French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250,
1255 (7th Cir. 1985) (finding that inmates are entitled to
receive nutritionally adequate food). Failure to meet an
inmate's basic nutritional needs is cruel and unusual
punishment because the inmate relies on prison officials to
provide food; if the officials fail to do so, the
inmate's basic nutritional needs will not be met. Cf.
Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Under some
circumstances, therefore, inadequate, unsanitary food service
can be sufficiently serious to satisfy the objective element
of an Eighth Amendment claim. However, occasional,
short-lived problems with prison food service and isolated
instances of inmates missing a meal or two do not implicate
the Eighth Amendment. See Brown v. Mathena, No.
7:10cv192, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47641, 2010 WL 1965105 (W.D.
Va. May 14, 2010) (finding that denial of one meal did not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation); Islam
v. Jackson, 782 F.Supp. 1111, 1114 (E.D. Va. 1992)
(finding that inmate's missing one meal as isolated event
did not state Eighth Amendment violation).
as Stevens only alleges that he was denied one meal on one
day, the court finds that he has failed to allege a
sufficiently serious deprivation giving rise to a
constitutional claim. Moreover, Stevens has not sufficiently
alleged a “serious medical and emotional deterioration
attributable to” being denied breakfast on December 15,
2018. See Lopez v. Robinson, 914 F.2d 486, 490 (4th
Cir. 1990) (quoting Shrader v. White, 761 F.2d 975,
979 (4th Cir. 1985)).
the court finds that Stevens' allegation of being denied
one meal fails to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment.
Finally, “[r]uling against a prisoner on an
administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to [a
constitutional] violation, ” George v. Smith,
507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007), and inmates do not have a
constitutionally protected right to participate in the
grievance procedure, see, e.g., Adams v.
Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, the
defendants are not liable under § 1983 for their
responses to the grievances or appeals. See Brown v. Va.
Dep't Corr., No. 6:07cv33, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
12227, at *8, 2009 WL 87459, at *13 (W.D. Va. Jan. 9, 2009);
see also Brooks v. Beard, 167 Fed.Appx. 923, 925 (3d
Cir. 2006) (holding allegations that prison officials and
administrators responded inappropriately to inmate's
later-filed grievances do not establish the involvement of
those officials and administrators in the alleged underlying
these reasons, Stevens' complaint is dismissed without
prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for
failure to state a claim. The court notes that this dismissal
is without prejudice to ...