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Hulley v. Northern Regional Jail

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

October 7, 2019

DAMON WILLIAM HULLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHERN REGIONAL JAIL, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff was previously incarcerated at West Virginia's Northern Regional Jail (“NRJ”) in Moundsville, West Virginia, following his conviction for attempt to commit unlawful assault, in Ohio County, West Virginia, Circuit Court case 19-F-18. Apparently, it was during his confinement at Northern Regional Jail that the events occurred which led to this civil action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On October 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging in three claims that his constitutional rights were violated. ECF No. 1.

         This matter was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) for judicial review. For the reasons set forth below, this Court recommends that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's complaint listed three grounds for relief wherein he claims that: (1) he fell off the top bunk of his bed which did not have safety bed rails; (2) that he had to wait for a week before seeing a doctor; (3) and that he was twice charged a $30.00 booking fee. Id. at 7 - 8. Plaintiff claims that he is now unable “to stand or work for long periods of time” which will affect his ability to obtain work, and as relief states that he “want[s] compensated for money”. Id. at 9.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Pro Se Litigant

         Courts must read pro se allegations in a liberal fashion and hold those pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court is required to perform a judicial review of certain suits brought by prisoners and must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (superseded by statute). The Supreme Court in Neitzke recognized that:

Section 1915(d)[1] is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. To this end, the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.

490 U.S. at 327.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99 (1957)). Courts long have cited, “the accepted rule that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46.

         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and therefore the Court must liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 - 1, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596 (1972) (per curiam); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007). While pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, even under this less stringent standard, a pro se complaint is still subject to dismissal. Haines, supra, at 520-21. “[T]he 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 petitioner could prevail, it should do so.'” Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir.1999). However, “judges are [ ] not required to construct a party's legal arguments for him.” Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417 - 8 (7th Cir.1993).

         Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation in pleading “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do....” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007). Accordingly, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” to one that is “plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570. In Twombly, the Supreme Court found that “because the plaintiffs [ ] have not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, their complaint must be dismissed.” Id. ...


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