United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
(Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff has been granted in forma pauperis
status. (Doc. No. 7).
Plaintiff Leslie Sanchez, a North Carolina prisoner currently
incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution, filed
this action on December 20, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, naming the following Defendants, all identified
as employees at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in
Charlotte, North Carolina, at all relevant times: (1) FNU
Cooper (sergeant); (2) FNU Boone (deputy); (3) FNU Waters
(deputy); (4) FNU Pew (officer); and (5) FNU Good (officer).
Plaintiff alleges that while he was a pre-trial detainee at
the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, Defendants
negligently failed to follow protocol, resulting in two
inmates assaulting Plaintiff on August 24, 2016. Although
Plaintiff does not articulate his legal claim, he appears to
be attempting to bring a claim for deliberate
indifference/failure to protect. To support his claim,
Plaintiff alleges the following facts in the Complaint:
On 8/24/16 in the late morning 11:08, when I was coming back
from court I was placed in the downstairs court holding cell
with other segregation inmate. Deputies Boone and Waters,
along with officers Pew and Good and their sergeant named
Cooper did not do their jobs properly and follow protocols.
As a result of their negligence, I was injured by Keep
Seperate [sic] Lee and another inmate named J. Lamison.
(Doc. No. 1 at 5). As relief, Plaintiff states that he seeks
“proper punishment” against Defendants, including
suspension “with a write-up, or fire them, for not
making sure I was safe.” (Id.). Plaintiff
further states that he seeks compensatory damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
under § 1915A the Court must conduct an initial review
and identify and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief.
frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a
pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the liberal
construction requirement will not permit a district court to
ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his Complaint which
set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990).
violently assaulted in prison is simply not part of the
penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses
against society.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994) (quotation marks omitted). As such, the
Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause
imposes on prison officials “a duty . . . to protect
prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Id. at 833 (quotation marks
omitted). Still, not “every injury suffered by one
prisoner at the hands of another . . . translates into
constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for
the victim's safety.” Id. at 834. To state
a claim for damages against a prison official for failure to
protect from inmate violence, an inmate must plead facts that
show (1) he was incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm, (2) the official was
deliberately indifferent to that substantial risk to his
health and safety, and (3) the official's deliberate
indifference caused him harm. Id. at 834.
indifference” in this context is a subjective standard
in that the prison official must actually have known or been
aware of the excessive risk to inmate safety. Id. at
835-37. It is not sufficient that the official should have
known of the risk. Id. A plaintiff can, however,
prove an official's actual knowledge of a substantial
risk to his safety “in the usual ways, including
inference from circumstantial evidence.” Id.
at 842. In other words, “a factfinder may conclude that
a prison official knew of a substantial risk from the very
fact that the risk was obvious.” Id. See also
Makdessi v. Fields, 789 F.3d 126, 133 (4th Cir. 2015).
of negligence is not cognizable in a civil action under
§ 1983. See, e.g., Davidson v. Cannon,
474 U.S. 344, 345-48 (1986) (prison officials' lack of
due care in failing to protect an inmate from an attack by
another inmate not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation); Ruefly v. Landon, 825 F.2d 792, 793 (4th
Cir. 1987) (“Mere negligent conduct on the part of
prison officials who fail to protect a prisoner from a risk
of harm posed by fellow inmates does not constitute a
violation of the eighth amendment's prohibition against
cruel and unusual punishment.”). Moreover, § 1983
does not general impose liability for violations of duties of
care that may arise under state law. DeShaney v.
Winnebago Cnty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189,
has failed to state a claim for a violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights against Defendants. Plaintiff alleges no
facts tending to show that Defendants had actual knowledge of
a substantial risk to Plaintiff's safety before he was
attacked by two other inmates. At most, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants were “not do[ing] their jobs properly,
” not “follow[ing] protocols, ” and being
“negligen[t].” (Doc. No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff's
allegations simply do not rise to the level of deliberate
indifference for purposes of stating a cognizable claim of a
constitutional violation. See Jackson v. Sampson,
536 Fed. App'x 356, 357 ...