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Wilson v. Lesher

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston

May 7, 2018

LYLE LESHER, Correctional Officer II, CORPORAL CHRISTOPHER HESS, and LIEUTENANT CHARLES LEGG, in their individual capacities, Defendants.



         This matter is assigned to the Honorable John T. Copenhaver, Jr., United States District Judge, and it is referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for submission of proposed findings of fact and a recommendation for disposition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Pending before the court is defendant Charles Legg's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 57), which asserts, inter alia, that the Complaint should be dismissed because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. For the reasons stated herein, it is respectfully RECOMMENDED that defendant Legg's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 57) be GRANTED, and that the Complaint and this civil action be dismissed in its entirety.


         The plaintiff's Complaint arises out of a use of force against him on July 17, 2012, when he was pepper sprayed by defendant Lyle Lesher in the course of his apprehension following an escape attempt at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex (“MOCC”). The plaintiff alleges that Lesher “wantonly and with malicious intent sprayed an excessive amount of chemical agent upon Plaintiff's person” and that defendants Hess and Legg “failed to intervene and/or stop Defendant Lesher, all in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and in violation of Article III, § 5 of the West Virginia Constitution. (ECF No. 1 at 4-7).

         On January 16, 2018, defendant Charles Legg filed the instant Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 57) and Memorandum of Law in support thereof (ECF No. 58).[1] On February 1, 2018, the plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 63). On February 8, 2018, defendant Legg filed a Reply (ECF No. 64). This matter is ripe for adjudication.


         Pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than those drafted by attorneys, and the court is obliged to construe liberally such complaints. However, in Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), the Supreme Court observed that a case should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if, viewing the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint does not contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” While the complaint need not assert “detailed factual allegations, ” it must contain “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Id. at 555.

         The Supreme Court elaborated on its holding in Twombly in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), a civil rights case. The Court wrote:

Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. [Twombly, 550 U.S.] at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation” (internal quotation marks omitted). Rule 8 . . . does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. * * *
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

556 U.S. at 678-679.


         A. The plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing his Complaint.

         Section 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), was enacted “to address concerns about the ‘ever-growing number of prison-condition lawsuits that were threatening to overwhelm the capacity of the federal judiciary.'” Green v. Young, 454 F.3d 405, 406 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting Anderson v. XYZ Corr. Health Servs., Inc., 407 F.3d 674, 676 (4th Cir. 2005)). “The PLRA imposes some rather substantial limitations on a prisoner's ability to initiate a civil action.” Id. ...

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