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 Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
[Doc. 1]. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2);
1915A. The Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. [Docs.
Plaintiff James Darin Sisk (“Plaintiff”) has
filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants
Kevin Holden, identified as a Lieutenant in the Transylvania
County Sheriff's Department, and the Transylvania County
Sheriff's Department. [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff appears to be
claiming that Defendants violated his constitutional right
not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment under the
Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant Holden choked and pushed Plaintiff against a
wall while Plaintiff was in custody. Plaintiff states that no
one else was involved in the use of force, but that two other
officers witnessed the incident. [Id.]. Plaintiff
was released from the Transylvania County Jail and is now
incarcerated at the Piedmont Correctional Instiution.
Plaintiff states he suffered “head trauma with constant
headaches after incident.” [Id. at 5]. Under
the Relief section of the § 1983 Complaint form,
Plaintiff states, “I was found guilty, sentenced to
prison, was assaulted by a gang, resulted in fracture of
knee, head injury, left arm muscle & denied medical
treatment.” [Id. at 5]. It is unclear how this
statement relates to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim or to
the relief he seeks. The Plaintiff does not state the relief
he seeks anywhere in his Complaint. An
“Affidavit” attached to his Complaint reflects
that he may be seeking monetary damages. [See Doc.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
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).
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that
he was “deprived of a right secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States, and that the alleged
deprivation was committed under color of state law.”
Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40,
Defendant Transylvania County Sheriff's Department, the
sheriff's department is not a legal entity capable of
being sued. As such, the Transylvania County Sheriff's
Department will be dismissed.
Defendant Holden, the Eighth Amendment prohibits the
infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments, ”
U.S. Const. amend. VIII, and protects prisoners from the
“unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, ”
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). To
establish an Eighth Amendment claim, an inmate must satisfy
both an objective component-that the harm inflicted was
sufficiently serious-and a subjective component-that the
prison official acted with a sufficiently culpable state of
mind. Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th
claims Defendant Holden used excessive force against him in
violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Court must consider such factors as the need for the use
of force, the relationship between that need and the amount
of force used, the extent of the injury inflicted, and,
ultimately, whether the force was “applied in a good
faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing
harm.” Albers, 475 U.S. at 320-21.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court has recently reiterated that
“[a]n inmate who is gratuitously beaten by guards does
not lose his ability to pursue an excessive force claim
merely because he has the good fortune to escape without
serious injury.” Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S.
34, 38 (2010). In Wilkins v. Gaddy, the Supreme
This is not to say that the “absence of serious
injury” is irrelevant to the Eighth Amendment inquiry.
“[T]he extent of injury suffered by an inmate is one
factor that may suggest ‘whether the use of force could
plausibly have been thought necessary' in a particular
situation.” The extent of injury may also provide some
indication of the amount of force applied. As we stated in
Hudson, not “every malevolent touch by a
prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action.”
“The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of ‘cruel
and unusual' punishments necessarily excludes from
constitutional recognition de minimis uses of physical force,
provided that the use of force is not of a sort repugnant to
the conscience of mankind.” An inmate who complains of
a “push or shove” that causes no discernible
injury almost certainly fails to state a valid excessive
Injury and force, however, are only imperfectly correlated,
and it is the latter ...