United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
pro se Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No.
15), and on Defendants' Motions for Extension of Time to
Answer, (Doc. Nos. 16, 18). Plaintiff is proceeding in
forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 5).
se Plaintiff filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, addressing incidents that allegedly
occurred at the Alexander Correctional Institution where he
still resides. The original Complaint passed initial review
on claims of unlawful conditions of confinement against
Defendants Beaver and Townsend and on claims of retaliation
against Defendants Fox, Harris, and Snuffer. See
(Doc. Nos. 1, 7).
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants:
Alexander C.I. Administrator Kenneth Beaver,
Unit Manager Rondal Townsend, Medical
Supervisor Pamela Chapman, Chronic Care
Nurse Renee Harris, Nursing Supervisor C.
Fox, Sergeant Goins,
Correctional Officer Brent Snuffer, NCDPS
Medical Director Dora Plummer, NCDPS
Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter, and
NCDPS Secretary Erik Hooks.
construing the Amended Complaint and accepting the
allegations as true, Plaintiff had surgery at Duke Regional
Hospital on February 13, 2018, to repair vertebrae in his
neck. According to the surgeon, it takes at least six months
for the titanium brace, screws, and bone graph to become
attached. Plaintiff returned to Alexander C.I. on March 29,
neck brace was confiscated less than 24 hours after returning
to Alexander C.I. Defendant Goins persuaded a nurse to take
the brace by falsely stating it had been discontinued by the
resident physician in retaliation for Plaintiff's
complaint that Goins had mistreated another inmate. Defendant
Goins also instructed Defendant Snuffer to confiscate
Plaintiff's religious headgear, and he has repeatedly
harassed Plaintiff. Plaintiff addressed this issue to
Defendants Townsend, Beaver, Lassiter, Hooks and Plummer but
they provided no relief.
several complaints of severe neck pain, Plaintiff was given
an x-ray which showed that the hardware in his neck is loose.
Obstacles were placed in Plaintiff's way that were
implemented to prevent him from going to see the surgeon
despite his persistent requests. When he went to see his
doctor, he was restrained painfully with a black box and
waist chain with his arms stacked which caused great
discomfort, prevented him from using an inhaler and urinal,
and caused pain in his shoulder and neck. This continued even
after the doctor wrote an order to preclude such restraints.
Defendants Fox and Chapman were aware of that order which was
written on May 29, 2018 and failed to take any action in
retaliation for making complaints about his medical care.
Plaintiff sought relief from Beaver to no avail.
date, treatment has not been provided for this serious
medical need and Plaintiff is suffering unnecessary pain even
though Defendants Fox and Chapman are fully aware of the
severity of his medical needs. Plaintiff informed supervisory
staff Defendants Beaver, Hooks, Lassiter, and Plummer of his
serious medical needs but they did not provide any
Townsend and Beaver refused to honor a medical order for a
handicap cell when Plaintiff returned from surgery in
retaliation for Plaintiff's complaints of staff
misconduct. Plaintiff was placed in a small non-handicap cell
that had no outlet to plug in his breathing machine and
lacking adequate space to turn around his wheelchair. He was
unable to maneuver in the cell well and fell on two
occasions, hurting his wrist. He was also denied an orderly
which he had been previously assigned in retaliation for his
complaints. Officer Snuffer also retaliated against Plaintiff
for making complaints against him and his co-workers.
Plaintiff was subjected to unreasonable searches by Snuffer
that served no institutional interest, were malicious and
harassing, and lacked any prison needs or penological
justification. Defendant Snuffer vandalized Plaintiff's
cell, confiscated his personal property, and placed
Plaintiff's Quran in the toilet and on the floor.
Plaintiff raised this issue with Defendants Townsend and
Beaver but they did not stop Snuffer's searches.
December 21, 2017, Plaintiff was summoned to the treatment
room and was kept there for an extended time while Nurse
Harris had two officers search Plaintiff's assigned cell,
and pens were confiscated. Plaintiff believes this was in
retaliation for Plaintiff having addressed their failure to
provide overhead headphones even though Plaintiff had valid
about Plaintiff's medical duty status was erased and
changed to be untrue. After Plaintiff complained in a
grievance on May 9, 2018, more changes were made. Plaintiff
believes the changes were made by Defendants Harris and Fox
in retaliation for writing grievances about his medical
complaints. Two days later, on May 11, Plaintiff's cell
was vandalized and property was confiscated. Plaintiff
addressed this issue to Defendants Beaver, Hooks, and Plummer
but they failed to provide any assistance.
has reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder and back but
the surgery was unsuccessful due to a dead nerve on the left
side of his neck, which has caused limited use of the left
arm. An MRI revealed a tear in the shoulder and steroid
injections were not helpful. On December 15, 2017, Plaintiff
saw and orthopedic doctor but he wanted to wait until after
neck surgery to determine the best course of treatment.
Plaintiff was not taken for the follow-up visit with the
orthopedic doctor even though medical provider James Johnson
put in for a follow-up on May 29, 2018. Defendants Chapman
and Fox are responsible for scheduling such appointments and
they failed to do so even though they are fully aware of the
need for treatment and it is obvious. This is causing
continuous pain and suffering which is sometimes severe.
suffers from severe migraine headaches from a head injury. He
gets partial treatment with injections at the ECU. A
medication was also prescribed for the headaches but he has
not received a single dose of it even though the prescription
has been valid for a year. Another medication was prescribed
for nausea caused by the headaches but it has not been issued
since he returned from surgery on March 29, 2018. Defendants
Chapman and Fox failed to ensure that the prescribed
medication is administered. Defendants Chapman, Fox, Beaver,
and Townsend are aware that Plaintiff is forced to stay in
full restraints for about 12 hours when he is transported for
the migraine injections yet failed to provide any relief such
as transferring Plaintiff closer to ECU.
is forced to endure unnecessary pain and suffering due to the
deliberate deprivation of adequate medical care. Defendants
Chapman, Fox, Beaver, Plummer, and Hooks knew of this
deprivation but failed to take steps to provide relief.
has been denied equal protection insofar as he has a valid
order for over-head headphones to accommodate his hearing
aids. Defendants Fox, Harris and Chapman have denied them
which prevents him from enjoying television like other
inmates. He also claims equal protection violations for
denial of a handicap cell, equipment like wheelchair and
cane, and an orderly.
complains that he has been denied access to mail in that mail
is held for between four and six days, including legal mail.
Plaintiff repeatedly sought relief from Defendant Beaver to
Plaintiff leaves Alexander C.I. for appointments all his
personal items are taken in the receiving department
including his religious headgear and prison ID card. This
happened when Plaintiff went to Central Prison for six weeks
in early 2018. Plaintiff requested his property several times
but Alexander staff failed to bring it to him at Central
Prison even though transportation staff goes to Central
Prison daily. Plaintiff claims that the confiscation of his
religious headgear denies him the free practice of his faith
and also makes him cold because he is bald. He claims that
Defendant Beaver is responsible.
seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages,
replacement of personal property, and any other relief that
is adequate, just and proper.
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 ...