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Murray v. Warden, Lanesboro Correctional

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

June 17, 2019

ADRIAN D. MURRAY, Plaintiff,
WARDEN, Lanesboro Correctional, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney, Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 17]. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A. On March 3, 2019, the Clerk of Court entered an order waiving Plaintiff's initial filing fee and directed the correctional facility to transmit partial payments from Plaintiff's inmate trust account. [Doc. 11]. Plaintiff, therefore, is proceeding in forma pauperis. [Id.]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Adrian D. Murray (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, currently incarcerated at Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg, North Carolina.. Until recently, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution (“LCI”). Plaintiff filed this action on November 29, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and filed an Amended Complaint on May 24, 2019. [Docs. 1, 17]. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names four Defendants: (1) John Doe, identified as the Warden of LCI; (2) FNU Mott, identified as a Sergeant at LCI; (3) FNU McCoy, identified as an officer of LCI; and (4) David Guice, identified as the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety (“NCDPS”). [Doc. 17].

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant McCoy, acting in accordance with a pattern or custom at LCI of failing to follow certain NCDPS security and safety policies, allowed another inmate to fashion a weapon out of an exit sign grate located in the Alpha pod housing unit at LCI and violently attack and repeatedly stab the Plaintiff. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that, while on rounds, Defendant McCoy saw and took no action with respect a grate that had been partially removed by another inmate. After Defendant McCoy left, the inmate subsequently continued to remove the grate, dismantled it, and sold the pieces thereof to other prisoners. When Defendant McCoy returned to Alpha pod on a subsequent round, she noticed the missing grate and either failed to report it and/or her supervisor, Defendant Mott, failed to act in response thereto. Over the course of the next twenty to thirty days, several other grates, presumably also in the Alpha pod, were taken down by inmates and converted to shanks. One of the prisoners who purchased a piece of the first missing grate used it to stab the Plaintiff some 60 days later.

         Further, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant McCoy failed to protect Plaintiff during the attack by being distracted and disregarding her duties to monitor inmates from her position in the control booth. Plaintiff also alleges that there was no floor officer on duty at the time of Plaintiff's attack because LCI was understaffed and that either Defendant Doe and/or Defendant Guice are responsible for determining safe staffing levels. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Doe and Mott failed to properly train Defendant McCoy with respect to her duties in the control booth and failed to correct the LCI staff's habitual failure to follow safety procedures. Plaintiff claims that this conduct violates his Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

         Plaintiff also complains that, while in segregation after the attack, LCI segregation staff refused him access to grievance forms and that some unknown member of the segregation staff interfered with Plaintiff's attempt to mail a copy of a self-prepared grievance letter home for photocopying. This unknown segregation staff employee allegedly opened Plaintiff's grievance letter, held the letter for over 20 days, and returned it to Plaintiff with a sticker saying, “not deliverable as addressed.” Plaintiff then double checked that the address was, in fact, correct. Plaintiff claims this conduct violated Plaintiff's “First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment right of access to the courts” by refusing him access to the grievance process and his First Amendment right of free speech by unlawfully censoring Plaintiff's outgoing mail. Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant John Doe and unknown staff members acted in retaliation of Plaintiff's grievances by destroying a substantial amount of evidence relevant to Plaintiff's attack and falsifying reports related thereto.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for his various injuries from the attack, for mental and emotional distress, and for mental health counseling after his release in July 2020.


         Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore, under § 1915A the Court must conduct an initial review and identify and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief.

         In its frivolity review, this 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). Furthermore, a pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

         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. ...

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