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's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No.
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, (Doc. No.
9). Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel, (Doc.
se Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 while a pretrial detainee at the Buncombe County
Detention Facility (“BCDF”). He names as
Defendants: Deputy Billy Watkins, Officer John Doe, Heathcare
Provider Jane Doe, and Buncombe County.
the Amended Complaint liberally and accepting the allegations
as true, Plaintiff attempted to commit suicide in his cell at
BCDF on November 11 or 12, 2016.
the intake medical assessment at BCDF, inmates are asked to
sign a form stating that they are aware that self-injurious
behavior could make them liable for all costs that result
from those actions. This practice is deliberately indifferent
to the risk of harm to inmates inclined to attempt suicide
and “may have been the proximate cause of the multiple
constitutional violations that nearly cost [Plaintiff] his
life” if officers are under the impression that an
inmate's signature on the forms absolves them from
liability on Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment claims. (Doc. No.
10 at 14). This also suggests that “all inmates known
to be inclined to suicide are being deliberately placed in
imminent danger.” (Id.).
has attempted suicide at BCDF more than once before the
November incident, and all of the attempts took place under
identical circumstances. Deputy Watkins did nothing to
prevent the attempt or intervene in Plaintiff's attempt
to commit suicide. Officer John Doe issued Plaintiff sheets
and blankets and assigned him to a cell with tie-off points
despite knowing Plaintiff's history of suicide attempts.
No. precautions were taken against the known risk of suicide
attempts. John and Jane Doe “recklessly disregarded a
substantial risk of serious harm.” (Doc. No. 10 at 6).
was found unconscious, not breathing, and with a faint pulse.
His condition required immediate life-saving measures and
emergency transport to Mission Hospital where he was kept on
life support for nearly two weeks. Plaintiff suffered
traumatic brain injury, broken ribs, and a damaged esophagus.
Plaintiff is still suffering from short-term memory loss,
post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and chronic
headaches. Plaintiff is in need of “comprehensive
neurological analysis and treatments” and
“comprehensive evaluation and possibly long term
treatment.” (Doc. No. 10 at 6).
seeks declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and
compensatory and punitive damages.
SCREENING STANDARD OF REVIEW
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)).
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