United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. WHITNEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff’s Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 6).
se Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Marion
Correctional Institution, has filed this civil rights action
against Marion C.I. Correctional Officer T. Hampton.
Construing the Complaint liberally and accepting the
allegations as true, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hampton
used excessive force against him on April 26, 2019 by
slamming him into the wall then pushing him into the entrance
of his cell while Plaintiff’s hands were restrained
behind his back and Plaintiff did not pose a threat to the
officer. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Hampton took these
actions because he wanted to scare or hurt Plaintiff.
Plaintiff received a disciplinary write-up for this incident
based on Defendant Hampton’s statement that Plaintiff
advanced towards him in a threatening manner which was
“clearly not true.” (Doc. No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff
claims that the incident is on video and that another
inmate’s statement indicates that the officer’s
actions were “uncalled for.” (Doc. No. 1 at 5).
Plaintiff seeks compensation for this use of excessive force
and asks that Officer Hampton be “put somewhere he
can’t harm or attempt to harm other inmates or relieved
of his duties.” (Doc. No. 1 at 5).
has also filed a “Full Statement Notice” (Doc.
No. 9), Amended Request for Relief (Doc. No. 10), and Notice
to the Court (Doc. No. 11), that seek to add allegations and
amend the claims for relief.
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)).
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.
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the
Eighth Amendment, ” Helling v. McKinney, 509
U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of “cruel and
unusual punishments, ” the Eighth Amendment places
restraints on prison officials, who may not, for example, use
excessive physical force against prisoners. See Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 1 (1992).
prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two
requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be,
objectively, “sufficiently serious, ” Wilson
v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991); see also
Hudson, 503 U.S. at 5, and must result in the denial of
“the minimal civilized measure of life’s
necessities, ” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S.
337, 347 (1981). The second requirement is that a prison
official must have a “sufficiently culpable state of
mind.” Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297, 302-03;
Hudson, 503 U.S. at 5, 8. “[T]he use of
excessive physical force against a prisoner may constitute
cruel and unusual punishment [even] when the inmate does not
suffer serious injury.” Hudson, 503 U.S. 1, 4
(1992); see Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 34
(2010). The “core judicial inquiry, ” is not
whether a certain quantum of injury was sustained, but rather
“whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson, 503 U.S.
at 7. “When prison officials maliciously and
sadistically use force to cause harm, ” the Court
recognized, “contemporary standards of decency always
are violated ... whether or not significant injury is
evident. Otherwise, the Eighth Amendment would permit any
physical punishment, no matter how diabolic or inhuman,
inflicting less than some arbitrary quantity of
injury.” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9, 13–14.
allegations that Defendant Hampton purposefully slammed him
into a wall while restrained states a plausible claim for the
use of excessive force. Therefore, the excessive force claim
will be permitted to proceed.
also alleges that Defendant Hampton lied in the prison
disciplinary proceedings in which Plaintiff was found guilty.
However, this claim is barred because its success would
necessarily imply the invalidity of the prison disciplinary
punishment and this claim will be dismissed. See Edwards
v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997) (claim for declaratory
relief and money damages based on allegations of deceit and
bias on the part of state officials involved in disciplinary
proceedings that necessarily imply the invalidity of the
punishment imposed is not cognizable under § 1983).
Plaintiff attempts to amend his Complaint through a
“Full Statement Notice” (Doc. No. 9), Amended
Request for Relief (Doc. No. 10), and ...