United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. WHITNEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff Marcus Antoine Wilson's pro se civil Complaint
(Doc. No. 1). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A,
a prisoner in the custody of the North Carolina Department of
Public Safety (“NC DPS”), filed the instant
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while a pre-trial
detainee at the Cleveland County Detention
Center. Plaintiff names Southern Health
Partners' nursing staff at Cleveland County Detention
Center and Cleveland County Detention officers, as a whole,
as Defendants in this action.
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, ”
“malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In its frivolity
review, the Court must determine whether the Complaint raises
an “indisputably meritless legal theory, ”
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992), or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
“fantastic or delusional scenarios, ” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). While a pro se
complaint must be construed liberally, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the liberal
construction requirement will not permit a district court to
ignore a plaintiff's clear failure to allege facts which
set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law,
see Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Here, Plaintiff invokes the Eighth Amendment to the federal
Constitution and the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), Pub.L. No.
104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996). (Compl. 3, 8, 9, Doc. No. 1.)
alleges that on numerous unidentified dates and times, he
notified unidentified nurses and officers at the Cleveland
County Detention Center that they were violating his HIPAA
rights during medical examinations. According to the
Complaint, nurses left the door open when examining Plaintiff
which enabled officers and other inmates to see and hear the
examinations. The Complaint also alleges the nurses were
“bad about talking to the officers about [his] health
issues” and that other inmates were able to hear what
was said about his medical conditions. He asserts these
practices made him depressed and ashamed because of the
sensitive nature of his health issues and the location of the
area that needed to be treated. He asserts further that other
inmates laughed at him and gossiped about the location of his
wound. (Compl. 7; Pl.'s Ex., Doc. No. 1-1 at 12-13.)
Complaint fails, as an initial matter, because he has not
named any person or legal entity capable of being sued.
Individual liability under § 1983 must be based on
personal participation in the constitutional violation.
See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658, 694 (1978) (stating that under § 1983, liability is
personal in nature). To proceed on a § 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must identify the individuals or distinct legal
entity alleged to have acted under color of state law.
See id. at 688 & n.55 (noting that, for purposes
of a § 1983 action, a “person” includes
individuals and “bodies politic and corporate”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b). Neither “Southern Health
Partners' nursing staff” nor “Cleveland
County Detention officers” is a distinct legal entity
capable of being sued; nor is either a “person”
within the meaning of § 1983.
Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief under § 1983
based on a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The
Eighth Amendment contains a prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Because
Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at all relevant times, the
Fourteenth Amendment applies to his claim, but the analysis
is the same as claims raised under the Eighth Amendment.
See City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239
upon the nature of Plaintiff's allegations, the Court
assumes Plaintiff invokes the Eighth Amendment because it
protects against the “deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs” of an inmate, see Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976), rather than because it
protects inmates from inhumane methods of punishment and
other inhumane conditions of confinement, see Williams v.
Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). To state a
claim under the Eighth Amendment for “deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, ” a plaintiff
must show “that the defendants actually knew of and
disregarded a substantial risk of serious injury to the
detainee or that they actually knew of and ignored a
detainee's serious need for medical care.”
Young v. City of Mt. Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 575-76
(4th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “To establish that
a health care provider's actions constitute deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need, the treatment must be
so grossly incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock
the conscience or to be intolerable to fundamental
fairness.” Miltier v. Beorn, 896 F.2d 848, 851
(4th Cir. 1990).
does not allege anywhere in the Complaint that nurses or
officers at Cleveland County Detention Center were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Nor
does he allege any facts that would support such a claim. The
only facts alleged in the Complaint relate to Plaintiff's
HIPAA claim and issues of privacy. In short, Plaintiff has
failed to articulate any facts that, when accepted as true,
demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief
under § 1983 based upon Defendants'
“deliberate indifference to [his] serious medical
needs.” See Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d
186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007) (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