United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
This is a civil rights action filed by Plaintiff George Reynold Evans, who was at one time incarcerated in the Guilford County, North Carolina, jail. He alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights while he was an inmate there. Plaintiff Evans names as Defendants the Guilford County Detention Center, B.J. Barnes (the Sheriff of Guilford County), Guilford County, North Carolina, and two jail employees, Sgt. Lanier and Officer Mangum. Defendants B.J. Barnes, Guilford County Detention Center, Sgt. Lanier, and Officer Mangum have filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Doc. #15] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendant Guilford County has filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. #22] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the reasons set out below, the Court recommends that both Motions be granted, and that this action be dismissed.
I. FACTS, CLAIMS, AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff's Complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and in it he alleges that he was incarcerated in the Guilford County jail (or "detention center") in the middle of October 2011. (Compl. [Doc. #5] at 3.) The public records of the detention center show that Plaintiff entered the facility on October 17, 2011, and was released on November 7, 2011. Therefore, Plaintiff spent about 21 days in the jail. Plaintiff was apparently a pretrial detainee during this period. Plaintiff names as Defendants the Guilford County detention center, Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes, Sergeant Lanier and Officer Mangum, who work at the detention center, and Guilford County. The Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.
Plaintiff alleges that the detention center was operated by and under the control of Sheriff Barnes during the relevant time period. Plaintiff makes several allegations against the medical staff at the jail. (Compl. [Doc. #5] at 3.) He claims that the medical staff denied him heart medication for the treatment of high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and an enlarged heart. He says that as a result of being denied medication, he had to be admitted to the hospital. Plaintiff also claims that the medical staff used an "out dated medical tube" to perform a medical test, which put him at risk due to an unidentified blood disorder from which he says that he suffers. Plaintiff claims that he was not provided a special diet, and that the medical staff should not have charged him for treatment of chronic conditions.
Plaintiff also makes general allegations regarding the conditions at the detention center. He claims that he was not afforded the proper amount of square footage per inmate, he had to sleep on the floor of a cell designed to hold 6 inmates but holding 12 to 15 inmates, and the cell had only one toilet, one shower, and one sink. Plaintiff further alleges that there were sometimes no sheets, towels, or face cloths. According to Plaintiff, the food was served cold and the food servers did not have the proper equipment or pass a health test.
Plaintiff also complains that he was not afforded due process at disciplinary hearings because he was not allowed to have representation. He also asserts that he was punished for pleading not guilty rather than pleading guilty at the disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff also says that he was punished for filing a grievance and was placed in segregation. According to Plaintiff, his medical information was shared with other inmates and other persons who were not authorized to receive the information. Plaintiff also complains about actions taken toward other prisoners. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that detention officers were not making rounds as required. As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief.
Defendants move for dismissal of all claims either through Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or Rule 12(c). The Clerk's Office mailed Plaintiff notices of his right to respond to both Motions. (Notices [Doc. #18, #24].) The notices were mailed to the address Plaintiff provided the Court, however the first notice was returned by the postal service as undeliverable. The second notice was sent to the same address, and was not returned. Plaintiff thereafter filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file a response [Doc. #25], which the Court granted [Doc. #26] as to both Motions. Plaintiff has not filed a response to either Motion, however, and the time for responding has now expired. Therefore, Defendants' Motions are unopposed.
The standard for granting judgment on the pleadings is the same as for granting a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Burbach Broad. Co. v. Elkins Radio Corp. , 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th Cir. 2002). A plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Rule 12(b)(6) when the complaint does not "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
As stated above, Plaintiff has not responded to either of Defendants' Motions. Under this Court's local rules, when a respondent fails to file a response to a motion, "the motion will be considered and decided as an uncontested motion, and ordinarily will be granted without further notice." LR 7.3(k). The Court will nevertheless briefly outline the reasons for granting Defendants' motions.
A. Defendant Guilford County
In North Carolina, the Sheriff of the county is responsible for the operation of the local jail or detention center. See Blair v. County of Davidson, No. 1:05CV11, 2006 WL 1367420, at *7 (M.D. N.C. May 10, 2006) (allegations against Sheriff and his deputies for actions taken while plaintiff was in jail fail to state a claim against the county in North Carolina). As in Blair, Plaintiff has not alleged an unconstitutional policy or conduct by the county; his allegations pertain only to the employees of the ...