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Caballero v. Boney

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

May 17, 2018

PHILLIP BONEY, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of the Complaint, [1] (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 4).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff, a North Carolina prisoner, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is complaining about an incident that occurred at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution on June 12, 2014.[2] He names as Defendants the following Lanesboro C.I. employees: Officer Phillip Boney, Officer Burke, Officer Heh, Officer Mack, Officer Mcintosh, Officer Smith, and Officer Holder.

         Liberally construing the Complaint and accepting the allegations as true, Plaintiff was being escorted to the rec yard in handcuffs when Officer Smith called him a "wetback m.... f... .r Mexican, " threw him to the floor, placed his knee on Plaintiffs back, held his head still, and beat him by hitting various parts of his body. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Officers Boney, Mack, Mcintosh, Goss, Holder, Bruce, Burke, Heh, and Smith all joined in the beating. Plaintiff was not a threat to the officers and did not resist. The beating was an act of retaliation and occurred after a long history of harassment, bias, racial slurs, threats, intimidation, and prejudice toward Mexicans. Plaintiff sustained fractures to his right hand, one foot, and shoulder, and injuries to his left hand, arms, head, and face. He has problems walking due to these injuries. Plaintiff seeks punitive damages of $50, 000 from each Defendant.


         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. § l9l5(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 plaintiffs complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiffs 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) Unnamed Individuals

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that, "[i]n the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties." Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a); see Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551 (7th Cir. 2005) ("to make someone a party the plaintiff must specify him in the caption and arrange for service of process."). Although pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed, Haines, 404 U.S. at 520, "[d]istrict judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants, " Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225 (2004).

         The body of the Complaint refers to individuals who are not named as defendants in the caption as required by Rule 10(a). This failure renders Plaintiffs allegations against them nullities. See, e.g., Londeree v. Crutchfield Corp., 68 F.Supp.2d 718 (W.D. Va. Sept. 29, 1999) (granting motion to dismiss for individuals who were not named as defendants in the compliant but who were served). Therefore, this cause cannot proceed on any claims against individuals who are not named in the caption of the Complaint and, to the extent Plaintiff intended to assert claims against them, they are dismissed.[3]

(2) Excessive Force

         "[T]he treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, " Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments, " the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not, for example, use ...

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