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Bobbitt v. Scott

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

December 4, 2017

FNU SCOTT, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc. No. 4).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Willie T. Bobbitt has filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regards to incidents that allegedly occurred at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution. He names the following as Defendants: Correctional Officers Scott and Gaddy, Captain Mimms, Program Director Georgia Hall-Martin, and the Mental Health Department.

         Construing the Compliant liberally and accepting the allegations as true, Plaintiff has a long history of mental health problems. He was in a cell on suicide watch in Lanesboro C.I.'s main medical unit on March 16, 2016, and he was released from suicide watch the following day. Defendant Scott came to Plaintiff's cell asking him to stop knocking on the door. Plaintiff repeatedly stated that he was no longer on suicide watch and needed clothes and was ready to go back to his cell. Scott assaulted Plaintiff by saying “don't make me come in there.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3).

         A short time later, around 11:00 or 11:30 AM, Defendant Scott opened the food trap and sprayed Plaintiff and Plaintiff's cell with MK-9 pepper spray. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Scott then told Gaddy to open Plaintiff's cell and he entered, which caused Plaintiff to fear for his safety. Scott continued to spray the entire can of MK-9 on Plaintiff as well as his personal mace, then punched Plaintiff's left eye twice. Plaintiff tried to cover himself with the suicide smock as Scott sprayed him. Plaintiff was never aggressive toward Scott or himself and did nothing to provoke the type of force that Scott used. During the assault Scott was yelling “I should kill you.” (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Defendant Gaddy watched the assault and did nothing to stop it. Plaintiff received a red swollen left eye, loss of vision and bruises.

         After the assault, Plaintiff was removed from main medical and was taken to see Nurse Wilkerson. Plaintiff received no medical treatment and was sent to his cell. Plaintiff did not receive treatment for his exposure to mace until 3:00 PM when two other correctional officers took him for treatment. Plaintiff was in a great deal of pain and discomfort from the MK-9 and mace. As a result of the incident, Plaintiff fears for his life, has problems sleeping, and experiences stress, depression and anxiety. Plaintiff sent numerous mental health requests yet received no help.

         Plaintiff told Defendant Gaddy that he was going to write to his mother and newspapers about being assaulted, and Gaddy said she would report it to Mims. Mims retaliated by rejecting Plaintiff's outgoing mail that was sealed for no justifiable reason, which caused Plaintiff to become depressed and stressed. Hill-Martin retaliated by rejecting Plaintiff's grievance “based on her lie.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff fears for his well-being and is under a lot of unnecessary stress.

         Hill-Martin retaliated by rejecting Plaintiff's grievance which was unjustifiable and intentional. Plaintiff worries that other papers of his that Hill-Martin comes across might not get processed (Doc. No. 1 at 6). Hill-Martin should show the reasons she rejected his grievances. It was later determined by Amanda Henry, the Administrative Secretary Grievance Coordinator that “plaintiff had no grievance pending to stop him from submitting one.” (Doc. No. 1 at 6).

         Mims retaliated by rejecting Plaintiff's outgoing mail. He had never rejected Plaintiff's outgoing mail until Gaddy told him that Plaintiff was going to write to his mother and newspapers about the assault. Plaintiff is not a threat to the prison and is not a Security Threat Group member so rejecting his sealed outgoing mail is unjustifiable and retaliatory. Plaintiff has serious family issues and he is not sure if his loved ones are getting his mail, this is causing him stress and worry.

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and such other relief to which he is entitled.


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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 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)).

         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.

         III. ...

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