United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
ELIZABETH K. DILLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wendell Lewis Franklin, proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed this civil rights complaint
asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Franklin's complaint names Mark Cahow and the Bedford
Adult Detention Center (“BADC”) as defendants.
(Dkt. No. 1.) In his complaint, Franklin alleges that after
his mother passed away on May 14, 2019, he requested to
attend her funeral, which was scheduled for May 19. BADC
staff initially told him he could attend the funeral if he
completed certain paperwork and paid the cost of transport.
Four days later, however, Captain Cahow told Franklin that he
would not be able to attend because of an escape charge in
his record from 2010. After Franklin explained that the
escape charge had been dismissed, Cahow then said he did not
have enough correctional officers to volunteer. Franklin
claims that Cahow's decision was an abuse of discretion,
“having the amount of time he had to figure out what
could be done in order to get” him to the funeral. He
further alleges that the reasons given for the denial were
either erroneous or “not a factor.” He contends
that there “should have been some type of protocol in
place” to address the problem. He seeks $1 million in
damages as a result of not being permitted to attend the
funeral. (See generally Compl., Dkt. No. 1.)
subsequently filed a letter docketed as a motion to amend his
complaint, which addresses his exhaustion of administrative
remedies and states that he “would like to revise the
original date on my claim if it will hinder [him] from
proceeding.” (Dkt. No. 8.) To the extent he seeks to
amend his complaint, the court will deny that motion as
futile. For the reasons set forth herein, his complaint,
either as it currently stands or as amended with additional
allegations concerning exhaustion, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, the court
concludes that this action should be dismissed with
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) requires initial review of a
“complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” See also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) (requiring court, in a case where plaintiff
is proceeding in forma pauperis, to dismiss the case
if it, for example, is frivolous or fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted). Pleadings of self-represented
litigants are accorded liberal construction and held to a
less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(per curiam). Liberal construction does not mean, however,
that the court can ignore a clear failure in pleadings to
allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal
district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Social
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
state a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege facts indicating that he has been deprived of rights
guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States
and that this deprivation resulted from conduct committed by
a person acting under color of state law. West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). As an initial matter,
BADC is not a legal entity and thus is not a
“person” subject to suit under § 1983.
Weeks v. Blue Ridge Reg'l Jail Auth., No.
7:06-CV-00665, 2006 WL 3423904, at *1 (W.D. Va. Nov. 28,
2006) (noting that the Bedford Adult Detention Center is not
a proper defendant in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983);
see also McCoy v. Chesapeake Corr. Ctr.,
788 F.Supp. 890, 894 (E.D. Va. 1992) (explaining that a jail
“is not an individual, a corporation, a partnership, or
an unincorporated association” and thus “lacks
the capacity to be sued as a jail”).
event, Franklin's complaint fails to state a federal
constitutional claim against Cahow or anyone else, and the
case is subject to dismissal. This is true regardless of how
his claims are characterized.
to the extent his claims are due process claims, numerous
courts-including this one-have recognized that there is no
protected liberty interest, and thus no constitutional right,
to leave prison for a family member's funeral.
E.g., Rathers v. Raney, 238 F.3d 423, 2000
WL 1871702, at *2 (6th Cir. Dec. 13, 2000) (unpublished)
(“An inmate has no liberty interest in attending a
family member's wake or funeral . . . .”);
Merritt v. Broglin, 891 F.2d 169, 174-75 (7th Cir.
1989); Jones v. Lynchburg Adult Detention Ctr., No.
7:10-cv-00009, 2010 WL 227831, at *1 (W.D. Va. Jan. 19, 2010)
(collecting authority); Hipes v. Braxton, 878
F.Supp. 56, 57 (W.D. Va. 1995). Moreover, to the extent that
state law lays out provisions that might have enabled a
funeral furlough, violations of state law by state officials
do not provide a basis for constitutional claims under §
1983. Weller, 901 F.2d at 392.
extent his claims are Eighth Amendment claims alleging cruel
and unusual punishment, the allegations are, at best, claims
of negligence by Captain Cahow. Individuals do not have a
constitutional right to be free from a government
employee's negligence, even if it causes an injury; thus,
officials' negligent actions do not give rise to any
viable claim under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams,
474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986); Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 835 (1994). Any Eighth Amendment claim here fails.
See Thomas v. Farley, 31 F.3d 557, 559 (7th Cir.
1994) (affirming dismissal of Eighth Amendment claim arising
from negligent failure to allow prisoner to attend his
these reasons, Franklin's lawsuit is subject to
dismissal. Furthermore, because it appears that there are not
any additional facts Franklin could plead that would allow
him to state a federal claim, his complaint will be dismissed
with prejudice. An appropriate order will be entered.
 Franklin does not appear to be
asserting an Equal Protection claim, and he does not allege
any facts to ...