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Johnson v. Roach

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

July 10, 2018

Frank Stephon Johnson, Plaintiff,
Officer Roach, Defendant.



         The plaintiff, Frank Stephon Johnson, a self-represented state pretrial detainee, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). The court previously dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the defendants named in the original Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, but the court granted Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint to name Defendant Officer Roach, (ECF No. 12), and Plaintiff did so. (ECF No. 20.) Having reviewed the Amended Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should also be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.

         I. Procedural Background

         In his original Complaint, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, indicated that on January 12, 2018, he slipped and fell walking out of the shower on a spot that chronically leaks sewage because of faulty plumbing. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 7-8.) Plaintiff indicated he injured his head and right side in the fall. (Id. at 7.) The officer on duty, Defendant Roach, called for medical staff to assist Plaintiff when he fell. (Id.) The medical staff took Plaintiff to the medical unit in a wheelchair, x-rayed his elbow, and gave him pain medication. (Id.) The medical staff told Plaintiff that nothing was wrong with him “yet, ” and forced him to walk back to his cell. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleged he received poor medical attention, including the original defendants' failure to send him to a hospital to treat his injuries. Plaintiff indicated he performs therapy on himself to try and rebuild his strength on his right side. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff indicated he still has problems with his back and right hip, and he continues to have headaches on the right side of his forehead. (Id.) He sought damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for “cruel and unusual punishment” and “deprivation, ” and he alleges the defendants have been negligent. (Id. at 6, 15.)

         In his Amended Complaint, filed on a standard complaint form for pro se prisoner plaintiffs provided by the court, Plaintiff named Officer Roach as the sole defendant and indicated he brings this action pursuant to § 1983 for a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and negligence. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 20 at 4.) Plaintiff failed to provide any facts about Officer Roach, and he left blank a section of the form asking Plaintiff to provide the underlying facts of his claims. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff listed the same injuries as he did in his original Complaint, and indicated he seeks damages for his injuries. (Id. at 6.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Amended Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), including 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit, and is also governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 1915A requires, and § 1915 allows, a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous, malicious, 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)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         A legal action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). While Plaintiff fails to specifically indicate what provision of the Fourteenth Amendment was violated by Officer Roach, in light of the court's duty to liberally construe pro se pleadings, the court construes the Amended Complaint as raising a claim for a violation of Plaintiff's right to due process and a state tort law claim of negligence.

         However, Plaintiff's claims against Officer Roach should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because Plaintiff fails to provide any facts about his claim or Officer Roach plausibly suggesting a viable claim. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (providing that a plaintiff in a § 1983 action must plead that the defendant, through his own individual actions, violated the Constitution); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 850 (4th Cir. 1985) (“In order for an individual to be liable under § 1983, it must be ‘affirmatively shown that the official charged acted personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff's rights. The doctrine of respondeat superior has no application under this section.' ”) (quoting Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d, 928 (4th Cir. 1977)). Even considering the facts raised in Plaintiff's original Complaint-specifically, that Officer Roach called the medical staff to help Plaintiff when he fell-Plaintiff still fails to plausibly allege that Officer Roach violated ...

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