United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No.
17. While still proceeding pro se, Plaintiff Rodney
Salmons filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants'
motion. Resp. in Opp'n, ECF No. 23. Defendants
subsequently filed a Reply Memorandum of Law. Reply,
ECF. No. 24. After Plaintiff retained counsel in this matter,
the Court entered an order permitting Plaintiff to file a
supplemental response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss by
October 11, 2019. Order, ECF No. 31. No.
supplemental response having been filed, the issues here are
nonetheless fully briefed and ripe for the Court's
review. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
GRANTS Defendants' motion.
November 3, 2018, Rodney Salmons and eighteen other prisoners
at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville, West Virginia
jointly filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging various violations of the Eighth Amendment and
raising claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages.
See Compl., ECF No. 2, at 1-9. The Complaint
specifically named the Western Regional Jail Authority,
Captain Carl Aldridge,  and Captain Samuel Savilla as
Defendants, along with “any C.O. that has worked in A-5
section.” Id. at 1. After reviewing the
Complaint, the Magistrate Judge issued a Memorandum Opinion
and Order directing the Clerk to open separate civil actions
for each of the listed Plaintiffs. See Mem. Op. &
Order, ECF No. 1, at 3. No. allegation in the Complaint
specifically concerns Plaintiff; indeed, aside from being
listed as a party to this action, his name does not appear
anywhere on its face. The Court assumes, however, that
Plaintiff's participation in this case is based on at
least some of the generalized grievances laid out in the
speaking, Plaintiff alleges inhumane living conditions in Pod
Section A-5 of the Western Regional Jail. Compl.,
at 5-12. Pod Section A-5 is the jail's “segregation
unit, designed and operated to house dangerous and troubled
prisoners.” Mem. in Support of Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 18, at 11. While it is never explicitly
stated, Plaintiff's involvement in this suit would seem
to indicate that he was housed in Pod Section A-5 at some
point in 2018. While incarcerated in Pod Section A-5,
Plaintiff alleges he was “constantley [sic] [e]xposed
to human wast[e], urin[e], [and] fecal matter, ” and
that “the living conditions in the section [were] worse
than one would find in a dog pound.” Id. at 5.
Beyond these general claims of unsanitary living conditions,
Plaintiff alleges that he and other inmates in Pod Section
A-5 “have had to go without s[oap], [toilet] paper,
clean clothing as well as Items to clean our cell and day
room.” Id. at 7. He notes that inmates in Pod
Section A-5 “might get Ra[z]ors Every 2 weeks if lucky,
” and that individual cells were moldy and smelled
“of urin[e] and fecal matter.” Id.
Plaintiff also references his limited opportunities for
out-of-cell recreation, claiming that he and the other
inmates “are den[i]ed any outside recreation and barely
get out o[f] our [c]ells each day.” Id. at 9.
Finally, Plaintiff alleges that the correctional officers in
Pod Section A-5 often refuse to offer medical help.
Id. At some point after this allegedly inhumane
treatment occurred, it appears Plaintiff was transferred to
Pod Section A-8 for an unknown period of time. Resp. in
Opp'n, at 1. In any event, Plaintiff is no longer
incarcerated at the Western Regional Jail and is instead
housed at the Parkersburg Correctional Center in Parkersburg,
West Virginia. Id. at 3.
March 1, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mot. to Dismiss,
at 1. On March 5, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued an order
directing Plaintiff to file a Response by April 1, 2019.
Briefing Order, ECF No. 20, at 1. While there is
some confusion surrounding the exact timing of
Plaintiff's filing, his Response was docketed on April 3,
2019. The Response makes no mention whatsoever
of Plaintiff's time in Pod Section A-5, and instead
exclusively relates to events that occurred while Plaintiff
was housed in an entirely different part of the Western
September 20, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued an order
directing that a status conference be held on October 2,
2019. Scheduling Order, ECF No. 28. The day before
that conference was set to take place, Michael E. Froble
entered a Notice of Appearance as Plaintiff's counsel.
Notice of Appearance, ECF No. 29. As a result, this
action was transferred from the Magistrate Judge to this
Court. On October 2, 2019, the Court issued an order
directing Plaintiff to file any supplemental response to
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss by October 11, 2019.
Order on Supplemental Resp., ECF No. 31.
Plaintiff's counsel filed no such response. Guided by the
principle that “federal courts must take cognizance of
the valid constitutional claims of prison inmates, ”
Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84 (1987), the Court
considers Defendants' Motion to Dismiss below.
Court will liberally construe the Complaint, as it was filed
while Plaintiff was still proceeding pro
se. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007). However, the Court is mindful that it
“may not construct the plaintiff's legal arguments
for him.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775
F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). Indeed, “[t]he special
judicial solicitude with which a district court should view .
. . pro se complaints does not transform the court
into an advocate.” Weller v. Dep't of Social
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
court to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” As such, Rule
12(b)(6) motions will generally serve to test the sufficiency
of a complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178
F.3d 231, 233 (4th Cir. 1999). While a complaint need only
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), its “factual allegations must
produce an inference of liability strong enough to nudge the
plaintiff's claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible, ” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 592 F.3d 250, 256 (4th Cir.
2009). In reviewing a motion to dismiss based on Rule
12(b)(6), the Court will accept “all well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true”
and draw “all reasonable factual inferences from those
facts in the plaintiff's favor.” Edwards,
178 F.3d at 244. Indeed, “[t]he issue is not whether a
plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant
is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims” he
makes. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
noted earlier, Plaintiff names four parties as Defendants in
this action: the West Virginia Division of Corrections and
Rehabilitation,  Captain Carl Aldridge, Captain Stephen
Savilla, and “any C.O. that has worked in A-5
section.” Compl., at 1. He seeks both
injunctive relief and compensatory damages. Defendants argue
that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for either
category of relief against any single
defendant. The Court considers this argument below.
Claims for Injunctive Relief
gravamen of Plaintiff's prayer for relief lies in a set
of injunctive remedies intended to correct the allegedly
unconstitutional conditions in Pod Section A-5.
Compl., at 5. While he makes several particularized
requests, at core Plaintiff asks “the Court to put a
stop to this behavior of the staff and bring to light what
has been going on at the Western Regional Jail with the
inmates in this section.” Id. Setting aside
the merits of Plaintiff's case, Defendants argue that