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Sherron v. Slagle

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

November 29, 2017

MIKE SLAGLE, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). He is proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 7).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Robbie Sherron is a North Carolina prisoner who is complaining about events that occurred at the Mountain View Correctional Institution in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.[1] He names as Defendants the following Mountain View C.I. employees: Administrator Mike Slagle, Assistant Superintendent of Program Services Dexter Gibbs, Medical Doctor Assistant Keith Damico, and “State Actors et. al unknown at this time.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3).

         Construing the allegations liberally and accepting them as true, Medical Assistant Domico interfered with Plaintiff's ability to receive adequate medical treatment for his prior back injury and “Hep-c-liver damage” (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Domico refused to provide medical treatment for these serious needs, ignored Plaintiff's prior prison medical history, and refused to provide treatment for his previously diagnosed conditions. (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff is being ignored by “correctional administrators” and Assistant Superintendent Gibbs. (Doc. No. 1 at 1). Plaintiff is suffering from “serious deprivation and physical pain” and Defendants are breaching their duty of care by failing to provide timely treatment. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). He has been denied and delayed eyeglasses, special shoes, back brace, “disabled devices.” (Doc. No. 1 at 4). His medical condition is worse now than it would have been had he received adequate care. Further, he is being charged medical co-pays for occasions when he was not provided adequate treatment.

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, damages for his pain, elimination of the co-pays charged to him when no treatment was provided, investigation of Mountain View C.I., and all other relief the Court deems fit and proper. (Doc. No. 1 at 4).


         A “court shall dismiss [a prisoner's] case at any time if the court determines that ... the action or appeal ... fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)). In its frivolity review, a 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).

         A pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is particularly appropriate where … there is a pro se complaint raising civil rights issues.”). 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). A pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints including those filed under § 1983). This “plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief. Id.


         (1) John Doe Defendants

         John Doe suits are permissible only against “real, but unidentified, defendants.” Schiff v. Kennedy, 691 F.2d 196, 197 (4th Cir. 1982). The designation of a John Doe defendant “is generally not favored in federal courts; it is appropriate only when the identity of the alleged defendant is not known at the time the complaint is filed and the plaintiff is likely to be able to identify the defendant after further discovery.” Njoku v. Unknown Special Unit Staff, 217 F.3d 840, 840 (4th Cir. 2000). “[I]f it does not appear that the true identity of an unnamed party can be discovered through discovery or through intervention by the court, the court could dismiss the action without prejudice.” Schiff, 691 F.2d at 197-98.

         Plaintiff names as Defendants “State Actors et. al unknown at this time.” He has failed to state any factual allegations whatsoever against these John Doe Defendants, and thus, the claims against them would be insufficient to proceed even if Plaintiff had provided their names. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (short and plain statement is required); Simpson v. Welch, 900 F.2d 33, 35 (4th Cir. 1990) (conclusory allegations, unsupported by specific allegations of material fact are not sufficient); Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 201-02 (4th Cir. 2002) (a pleader must allege facts, directly or indirectly, that support each element of the claim).

         Therefore, the claims against the John Doe Defendants are ...

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