United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JAMAR R. CEPHAS, SR., Plaintiff,
BUCKINGHAM CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendant.
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge.
R. Cephas, Sr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, against the Buckingham Correctional Center
(“BKCC”), alleging that he was improperly
confined near a mentally ill inmate who injured him. After
review of the record, the court concludes that this civil
action must be summarily dismissed.
alleges the following sequence of events on which he bases
his § 1983 claim. On May 9, 2019, at BKCC, Cephas and
Kevin Hunter were confined in the same housing area, A3 Pod.
Hunter had not been taking his mental health medications.
After the two inmates had a conversation about music, Hunter
became offended, ordered him into a cell, and followed him,
holding a knife to his back. Once they were inside the cell,
Hunter stabbed Cephas numerous times and then walked away.
Cephas was hospitalized for four days and then spent several
days in the BKCC infirmary. His injuries required stitches.
filed this § 1983 action against BKCC, complaining that
his life was put in danger because the prison housed mental
patients around normal individuals. As relief, he seeks
monetary damages for pain and suffering.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), the court may dismiss any
§ 1983 action “with respect to prison conditions .
. . if the court is satisfied that the action is frivolous,
malicious, [or] fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted.” A “frivolous” claim is one
that “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989) (interpreting “frivolous” in former
version of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)). Section 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).
stated, Cephas identifies only one defendant: BKCC. The
prison, however, is not a person that can be sued under
§ 1983. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70 (1989). Because Cephas'
§ 1983 claim cannot proceed against the only defendant
he has named, the court will summarily dismiss the action
without prejudice under § 1997e(c)(1) as legally
frivolous. An appropriate order will enter this day.
Such a dismissal leaves Cephas free to refile his claim in a
new and separate civil action if he can correct the
deficiencies described in this opinion.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion
and accompanying order to plaintiff.
 Moreover, the current complaint does
not state facts supporting any actionable § 1983 claim
The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,
but neither does it permit inhumane ones. Prisons house
persons with demonstrated proclivities for antisocial
criminal, and often violent, conduct, and at the same time
strips inmates of virtually every means of self-protection. .
. . .
Prison officials are, therefore, obligated to take
reasonable measures to guarantee inmate safety. In
particular, prison officials have a duty to protect prisoners
from violence at the hands of other prisoners.
That being said, not every injury suffered by a
prisoner at the hands of another translates into
constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for
the victim's safety. Rather, liability attaches only when
two requirements are met. First, a prison official's act
or omission must result in the denial of the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities. For a claim
based on a failure to prevent harm, the plaintiff must show
that he was incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm.
Makdessi v. Fields, 789 F.3d 126, 132-33 (4th
Cir. 2015). Cephas has met this first aspect of the
constitutional standard by showing that he suffered