720 F.2d 792 (4th Cir. 1983), 82-6538, Daniels v. Williams

Docket Nº:82-6538.
Citation:720 F.2d 792
Party Name:Roy E. DANIELS, Appellant, v. Andrew WILLIAMS, Deputy, Appellee.
Case Date:August 24, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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720 F.2d 792 (4th Cir. 1983)

Roy E. DANIELS, Appellant,


Andrew WILLIAMS, Deputy, Appellee.

No. 82-6538.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 24, 1983

Argued May 13, 1983.

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Louis James Licata, Third Year Law Student (Professor Stephen A. Saltzburg, University of Virginia Law School, Charlottesville, Va., on brief), for appellant.

Dennis A. Barbour, Roanoke, Va. (James W. Hopper, Gardner, Moss, Brown & Hopper, P.C., Roanoke, Va., on brief), for appellee.

Before HALL and SPROUSE, Circuit Judges, and TURK, [*] Chief Judge. [**]

TURK, Chief Judge:

Roy E. Daniels (Daniels), an inmate at the Richmond City Jail, brought this section 1983 action against Deputy-Sheriff Andrew Williams (Williams) alleging that he was injured when he slipped and fell on a pillow negligently left on the stairs by Williams. The district court granted Williams's motion for summary judgment, reasoning that under Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981), Daniels's allegations failed to state a procedural due process claim because Virginia provided a meaningful postdeprivation remedy in the form of a common law negligence action. Daniels appeals on the grounds that Parratt's analysis concerning the adequacy of a postdeprivation remedy should not be applied to the deprivation of a nonproperty interest, and, even if it does apply, that the Virginia doctrine of sovereign immunity denies him an adequate postdeprivation remedy. We affirm the district court's dismissal of Daniels's action.


The plaintiff in Parratt alleged that he was deprived of property without due process of law when prison officials negligently lost his hobby kit. The Court agreed that the plaintiff had been deprived of property within the meaning of the fourteenth amendment. Id. at 536-537, 101 S.Ct. at 1913-1914. The Court held, however, that the plaintiff had not stated a claim for a violation of the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. Rejecting the proposition that due process always requires a hearing before the initial property deprivation, Justice Rehnquist stated in a plurality opinion that a meaningful postdeprivation hearing satisfies the requirements of procedural due process in situations where the property deprivation does not result from established state procedure and the state cannot practically provide a meaningful predeprivation hearing. Id. at 540-541, 101 S.Ct. at 1915-1916. Applying this principle to the plaintiff's allegation that he was tortiously deprived of his property as a result of a state employee's random and unauthorized act, the Court concluded that the plaintiff was not deprived of property without due process of law because the state's statutory tort procedure provided him with a postdeprivation remedy that satisfied the requirements of procedural due process. 1 Id. at 543-544, 101 S.Ct. at 1916-1917.

Like the plaintiff in Parratt, Daniels alleges that he was injured by the negligence of a state employee. Unlike in Parratt, Daniels's claim is for bodily injury rather than for the loss of personal property. "Liberty" within the meaning of the

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fourteenth amendment includes the right to be free from "unjustified intrusions on personal security." Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 673, 97 S.Ct. 1401, 1413, 51 L.Ed.2d 711 (1977). Bodily injury resulting from a state official's negligence therefore deprives a person of a liberty interest protected by the fourteenth amendment. 2 This case thus presents the question whether the Parratt analysis applies to nonproperty deprivations, such as a negligent deprivation of a liberty interest.

Parratt concerned a property interest; its scope, however, "cannot easily be limited to negligent deprivations of property." Palmer v. Hudson, 697 F.2d 1220, 1222 (4th Cir.1983), cert. granted, --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 3535, 77 L.Ed.2d 1386 (1983). Because Parratt's underlying principle is that a postdeprivation hearing will satisfy procedural due process when there is no practical way to provide a predeprivation hearing, logic dictates that Parratt should also apply to a nonproperty deprivation for which a predeprivation hearing was impractical. Justice Rehnquist made no distinction in Parratt between property and nonproperty deprivations. Rather, the relevant distinction is between isolated acts of misconduct which are not amenable to prior control and deprivations resulting from established state procedure; this factor determines whether a meaningful postdeprivation remedy will satisfy the requirements of procedural due process.

In addition, application of Parratt to nonproperty deprivations such as Daniels's alleged bodily injury is consistent with the Court's stated goal in Parratt to provide courts with assistance in determining "the correct manner in which to analyze claims ... which allege facts that are commonly thought to state a claim for a common-law tort normally dealt with by state courts, but instead are couched in terms of constitutional deprivation and relief is sought under Sec. 1983." Id. 451 U.S. at 533, 101 S.Ct. at 1912.

The conclusion that Parratt was intended to apply to all types of deprivations resulting from the unauthorized acts of state officials which are not amenable to prior review is further reinforced by the concurring opinion of Justice Powell. Justice Powell argued that the alleged negligent loss of the plaintiff's property by the state officials did not constitute a deprivation of property within the meaning of the fourteenth amendment. Id. at 546, 101 S.Ct. at 1918. And he criticized the Court's focus on the adequacy of the postdeprivation remedy because such would make the fourteenth amendment a font of tort law whenever a state failed to provide a remedy. Id. at 550, 101 S.Ct. at 1920. In so doing, however, he recognized that the Court's analysis applies to "negligent invasions of liberty or property interests." Id.

Moreover, Ingraham v. Wright, supra, is...

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