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Shipley v. Anderson

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

April 22, 2019

Donald R. Shipley, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Dr. Alten Anderson, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER & MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION

          Robert T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Donald R. Shipley, Jr., a former pretrial detainee proceeding pro se, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is currently before the court for the screening required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). For the following reasons, Shipley's claims will be allowed to proceed, but the Brunswick County Detention Center should be dismissed as a defendant.

         I. Screening Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act

         The PRLA requires courts to review, prior to docketing, actions filed by prisoners against governmental entities or officials. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The purpose of this review is to eliminate those claims that unnecessarily impede judicial efficiency and the administration of justice. The court must examine the pleadings, identify cognizable claims, and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b).

         Here, Shipley alleges defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Specifically, he contends that he seriously injured his head getting out of bed, and that defendants Dr. Alten Anderson and Nurse Fran Jewel were aware of this injury but delayed the provision of medical treatment. Compl. at 5-7, D.E. 1. Because it does not clearly appear from the face of the complaint that Shipley is not entitled to relief, this claim is allowed to proceed.[1]

         However, Shipley also names the Brunswick County Detention Center as a defendant. Shipley's claims against the Brunswick County Detention Center should be dismissed because the Center is not a defendant amenable to suit in a § 1983 action. In order to successfully claim a violation of § 1983, the plaintiff must allege that a “person” acting under color of state law violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48-49 (1988). A detention center is not a “person” under § 1983. See, e.g., Preval v. Reno, No. 99-6950, 2000 WL 20591, at *1 (4th Cir. 2000) (dismissing an action because the “[j]ail is not a ‘person' and is therefore not amenable to suit under § 1983”); Perdue v. Penalosa, No. 93-6313, 1994 WL 559140, at *1 (4th Cir. 1994) (same); Tanksley v. Wilson Cty. Det. Ctr., No. 5: 14-CT-3023-F, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156356, at *2 (E.D. N.C. 2014) (explaining that “[b]ecause the Wilson County Detention Center is not a person, it is not a proper party to a § 1983 action”); Brooks v. Pembroke City Jail, 722 F.Supp. 1294, 1301 (E.D. N.C. 1989) (a jail is not a person under § 1983). Thus, Shipley's claims against the Brunswick County Detention Center should be dismissed.

         II. Conclusion

         As discussed above, Shipley may proceed with his deliberate indifference claims against Anderson and Jewel. The court directs the United States Marshal Service to make service pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). In addition, the court directs the clerk of court to serve a copy of plaintiff's complaint and this order on the Brunswick County Attorney.

         Finally, it is recommended that the Brunswick County Detention Center be dismissed as a defendant.

         The Clerk of Court must serve a copy of this Memorandum and Recommendation (“M&R”) on each party who has appeared in this action. Any party may file a written objection to the M&R within 14 days from the date the Clerk serves it on them. The objection must specifically note the portion of the M&R that the party objects to and the reasons for their objection. Any other party may respond to the objection within 14 days from the date the objecting party serves it on them. The district judge will review the objection and make their own determination about the matter that is the subject of the objection. If a party does not file a timely written objection, the party will have forfeited their ability to have the M&R (or a later decision based on the M&R) reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

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Notes:

[1] Courts analyze the claims of pretrial detainees under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than under the Eighth Amendment. See, e.g., Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n.16 (1979). “Due process rights of a pretrial detainee are at least as great as the eighth amendment protections available to the convicted prisoner.” Hill v. Nicodemus, 979 ...


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