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, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff have moved
to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 2).
se Plaintiff has filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 about the conditions of confinement she is
experiencing as a pretrial detainee at the Swain County
Detention Center. She names as Defendants: Swain County
Detention Center, SCDC Administrator Leanna Arch, and Swain
County Sheriff Curtis Cochran.
the Complaint liberally and accepting the allegations as
true, Plaintiff has been incarcerated at SCDC since April 4,
2019. Since that time she expressed concerns and needs to
detention officers or ranking officers but they are not
receptive to inmates concerns and/or needs. She has asked for
a reasonable amount of toilet paper due to prior surgery and
Crohn's disease, which was approved by a nurse, but she
has been given only two rolls a week. She purchases more when
she is able but is often indigent. She has used whatever is
available, including a t-shirt and sanitary napkins. She
complains that inmates are only allowed to sleep between 6:00
AM and 11:00 PM, and inmates face disciplinary action if they
do not comply. Temperatures are “below average.”
(Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff feels her privacy is being
violated due to male officers seeing in the showers of the
female housing pod. Plaintiff is embarrassed by the situation
and puts off showering until absolutely necessary or until a
female is watching. Plaintiff is concerned about the PREA
because there is no confidential system to report any
incidents. She addressed this issue with Sergeant Travis,
Lieutenant Grant, and Detention Officer Chris but Plaintiff
has not been properly informed and the PREA is not posted
anywhere in the facility. As a federal inmate at SCDC,
Plaintiff is being refused recreation time outside the
housing unit. She has raised this several times with several
detention officers and has been told that there is plenty of
room inside for recreation. She has not been outside to get
fresh air and exercise in nearly two months. On May 29, 2019,
Administrator Arch came with a nurse to address medical
complaints. Plaintiff asked about recreation time and Arch
confirmed that there is sufficient room in the pod to
exercise. She said that the inmates, including Plaintiff,
would “not ever be able to go outside” because
there is insufficient staff to watch inmates outside. (Doc.
No. 1 at 7). As a result of breathing stale air, Plaintiff
has sneezing, stuffiness, and headaches. Plaintiff states she
has no physical injuries but has suffered mental and
emotional distress. She seeks injunctive relief.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, 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,
§ 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint
in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity, ” and the court must identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint 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 from such relief.
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
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). She must articulate facts that,
when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim
entitling him to relief. Id.
order to successfully allege a violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983, the plaintiff must allege that a “person”
acting under the color of state law violated the
plaintiff's constitutional rights. Rule 17(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that a party's
capacity to be sued is determined by the law of the state in
which the District Court is held. Under North Carolina law,
unless a statute provides to the contrary, only persons in
being may be sued. McPherson v. First & Citizens
Nat. Bank of Elizabeth City, 240 N.C. 1, 18, 81
S.E.2d 386 (1954). Jails may not be sued. Brooks v.
Pembroke City Jail, 722 F.Supp. 1294, 1301 (E.D. N.C.
1989) (“Claims under § 1983 are directed at
“persons” and the jail is not a person amenable
to suit.”). The Swain County Detention Center is not a
person under § 1983 and the claims against it will be
dismissed with prejudice.
also names in the Complaint several individuals who are not
named as Defendants. in the caption as required by Rule 10(a)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This failure renders
Plaintiff's allegations against them nullities.
See, e.g., Londeree v. Crutchfield
Corp., 68 F.Supp.2d 718 (W.D. Va. Sept. 29, 1999)
(granting motion to dismiss for individuals who were not
named as defendants in the compliant but who were served).
The allegations directed at individuals not named as
Defendants are therefore dismissed without prejudice.
Conditions of Confinement
detainees possess a constitutional right “to be free
from punishment.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 535 (1979); Williamson v. Stirling, 912 F.3d
154, 173-74 (4th Cir. 2018). A substantive due
process claim challenges the general conditions of
confinement or the treatment of all detainees in a specific
facility. Slade v. Hampton Roads Reg'l Jail, 407
F.3d 243, 250 (4thCir. 2005); Martin v.
Gentile, 849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1998).
The controlling inquiry for such a claim is whether the
conditions imposed on pretrial detainees constitute
“punishment.” Bell, 441 U.S. at 535-39.
In order to prevail on a substantive due process claim, the
pretrial detainee must show that a particular ...