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Jones v. The Bop Director

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 2, 2019

William Jones, Plaintiff,
v.
The BOP Director, Atwater USP, Victorville USP, McCreary USP, Pollock USP, Allenwood USP, Terre Haute, and Beaumont USP, Defendants.

          ORDER AND NOTICE

          Shiva V. Hodges, United States Magistrate Judge.

         William Jones (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed this complaint against the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and seven BOP institutions (collectively “Defendants”), alleging they have misclassified him as a sex offender and public safety threat and have violated his civil rights. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a federal inmate incarcerated in Texas. [See ECF No. 1 at 12]. He alleges his misclassification has followed him through his incarceration at seven separate BOP institutions, despite the judge who sentenced him allegedly refuting the classification in a letter provided to Defendants. Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff further alleges Defendants have denied him proper medical care, forced him to eat and drink poison, and pumped smoke into his cell. Id. at 3-5, 7. He asserts Defendants are retaliating against him because of the existence of “a hit out on him.” Id. at 4-5.

         Plaintiff seeks immediate release, injunctive relief, and monetary damages. Id. at 5.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Plaintiff filed his complaint 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. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

         Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Analysis

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, the United States Supreme Court has made it clear a plaintiff must do more than make conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677‒78 (2009); Bell Atlantic 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, and the reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678‒79.

         1. Bivens Claims

         Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages because of constitutional wrongdoing by federal agents fall under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 397 (1971). A Bivens action is a judicially-created damages remedy designed to vindicate violations of constitutional rights by federal actors. See Id. at 395-97. “The purpose of Bivens is to deter individual federal officers from committing constitutional violations.” Correctional Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 70 (2001). Thus, a Bivens action will not lie against either federal agencies or officials in their official capacity. See Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 184 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 486 (1994)). Further, “[b]ecause vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens . . . suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has ...


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