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 the
Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauperis. (Doc. No. 7).
se Plaintiff filed this civil rights suit pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 while incarcerated at the Marion
Correctional Institution. (Doc. No. 1). He names as
Defendants the following Marion C.I. employees: Correctional
Program III Julie Jenkins, Correctional Program II G. Swink,
and Assistant Superintendent of Programs David Cothron.
the Complaint liberally and accepting it as true, Plaintiff
was told by a dentist in October and December 2018 that he
needs to floss on a regular basis. Defendants deprived him of
“decent” conditions of confinement by refusing to
allow him to purchase dental floss since he arrived at Marion
C.I. on March 2, 2018. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff is not
provided adequate floss by prison officials and he has not
been given any legitimate notice or reason for the refusal.
As a result, he is unable to floss after each meal and can
only floss once each evening. Defendants Jenkins and Swink
are not allowing Plaintiff to purchase floss from the canteen
because other inmates may use floss to make fishing lines to
pass items from cell to cell and because floss containers are
not see-through. As a result, inmates are only given seven to
nine inches of floss at a time which is insufficient.
Officers hand out floss without washing their hands which is
unsanitary and places Plaintiff at risk of being exposed to
harmful bacteria, the flu, and the common cold and could
result in blood poisoning.
dental floss policy is discriminatory and deprives Plaintiff
of equal protection of the law. Jenkins and Swink treat some
inmates differently than others without a legitimate reason.
Plaintiff needs to have floss in his possession at all times
to prevent gum swelling and bleeding. Plaintiff has had
toothaches and headaches and bleeding gums could place
Plaintiff at a higher risk of developing heart disease later
in life. At the time Plaintiff filed the Complaint there had
not been any dental floss on the unit for several weeks.
requests compensatory and punitive damages.
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 relief. Id.
Conditions of Confinement
Eighth Amendment prohibits punishments that “involve
the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976) (quoting
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)).
“It not only outlaws excessive sentences but also
protects inmates from inhumane treatment and conditions while
imprisoned.” Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d
756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). The Constitution
“does not mandate comfortable prisons, … but
neither does it permit inhumane ones.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981)). Thus, prison
official must provide sentenced prisoners with adequate food,
clothing, shelter, and medical care, and “take
reasonable measures to guarantee the[ir]
safety….” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S.
517, 526-27 (1984); see Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832-34.
Inmates' claims that prison officials disregarded
specific known risks to their health or safety are analyzed
under the deliberate indifference standard of the Eighth
Amendment. See Pressly v. Hutto, 816 F.2d 977, 979
(4th Cir.1987). To establish the imposition of
cruel and unusual punishment, a prisoner must prove two
elements: (1) “the deprivation of [a] basic human need
was objectively sufficiently serious, ” and (2)
“subjectively the officials act[ed] with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind.” Shakka v. Smith, 71
F.3d 162, 166 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting
Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1379
(4th Cir. 1993) (quotation omitted).
establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment in the context
of a challenge to conditions of confinement, an inmate must
allege (1) a “sufficiently serious” deprivation
under an objective standard and (2) that prison officials
acted with “deliberate indifference” to the
inmate's health and safety under a subjective standard.
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297-99 (1991). A
sufficiently serious deprivation occurs when “a prison
official's act or omission ... ...