Campbell v. Leslie, Civil Action No. 5:18-00357

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtOmar J. Aboulhosn United States Magistrate Judge
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 5:18-00357
PartiesDAVID ATREYEL CAMPBELL, Plaintiff, v. MS. LESLIE, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date10 June 2019

MS. LESLIE, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 5:18-00357


June 10, 2019


Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees (Document No. 1), filed on February 26, 2018. Having examined Plaintiff's Complaint, the undersigned has concluded that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted in this matter and therefore respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees be denied and this matter be dismissed.


On February 26, 2018, Plaintiff, acting pro se,1 filed his Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and Complaint for alleged violations of his constitutional and civil rights pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 24 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971). (Document Nos. 1 and 2.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff names the following as Defendants: (1) Ms. Leslie, DHO FCI Beckley; (2) Mr. Sweeney, SIS FCI Beckley; (3) Mr. Toney, SIS FCI Beckley; (4) Ms. Smith, Case Manager FCI Beckley; (5) Mrs. Stenett,

Page 2

Unit Manager FCI Beckley; (6) Dr. Weaver, Chief Psychologist FCI Beckley; (7) Mrs. Saad, Warden FCI Gilmer; (8) Mrs. Parke-Davis, Unit Manager FCI Gilmer; and (9) FBOP. (Document No. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants subjected him to verbal abuse, harassment, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. (Id., p. 4.) Plaintiff explains that while at FCI Beckley, he was placed in the Special Housing Unit ["SHU"] on January 4, 2017. (Id., p. 4.) Plaintiff acknowledges that he was issued an Incident Report on January 12, 2017, for violating Prohibited Act Code 196. (Id.) Plaintiff states that he was interviewed by Counselor Brown on January 15, 2017, and Plaintiff declared his innocence and requested that witnesses be called. (Id.) Plaintiff acknowledges that his disciplinary hearing was conducted on February 18, 2017, and Plaintiff continued to maintain his innocence. (Id.) Plaintiff complains that DHO Leslie refused Plaintiff's request to call witnesses and determined Plaintiff violated Prohibited Code Violation 111A. (Id., p. 7.) Plaintiff states that he was sanctioned to 30 days segregation, 180 day loss of e-mail privileges, 90 day loss of phone privileges, and 41 day loss of good time credit. (Id.) Plaintiff complains that he was confined in the SHU for 97 days. (Id.) As a result of the forgoing, Plaintiff states that he was expelled from RDAP by Dr. Weaver for not accepting responsibility for his actions concerning the Prohibited Code Violation. (Id.) Plaintiff explains that his recommended RRC placement was reduced from 180 days to 30 - 91 days. (Id., p. 5.) During his placement in SHU, Plaintiff complains that he was denied contact with loved ones, subjected to verbal abuse by staff, and confined in a cell for 23 hours a day. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he appealed the DOH's decision to the Regional Office and Plaintiff was granted a new DHO hearing. (Id.) Plaintiff complains that at the time of the Regional Office's decision, Plaintiff only had "14 days left until his RRC release date and the damage had already been done." (Id.)

Page 3

As relief, Plaintiff requests monetary damages. (Id., p. 7.)


Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to screen each case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. On screening, the Court must recommend dismissal of the case if the complaint is frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A "frivolous" complaint is one which is based upon an indisputably meritless legal theory. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992). A "frivolous" claim lacks "an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1831 - 32, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Id., 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. at 1833. A claim lacks an arguable basis in fact when it describes "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Id., 490 U.S. at 327 - 328, 109 S.Ct. at 1833. A complaint therefore fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted factually when it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. With these standards in mind, the Court will assess Plaintiff's allegations in view of applicable law.

This Court is required to liberally construe pro se documents, holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (1978). Liberal construction, however, "does not require courts to construct arguments or theories for a pro se plaintiff because this would place a court in the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party." Miller v. Jack, 2007 WL 2050409, at * 3 (N.D.W.Va. 2007)(citing Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.1978)).

Page 4

Further, liberal construction does not require the "courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). In other words, a court may not construct legal argument for a plaintiff. Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir.1993). Finally, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Department of Social Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir.1990)). Where a pro se Complaint can be remedied by an amendment, however, the District Court may not dismiss the Complaint with prejudice, but must permit the amendment. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 1734, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992); also see Goode v. Central Va. Legal Aide Society, Inc., 807 F.3d 619 (4th Cir. 2015).


"[F]ederal courts must take cognizance of the valid constitutional claims of prison inmates." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2259, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987). A Bivens action is a judicially created damages remedy which is designed to vindicate violations of constitutional rights by federal actors. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. at 395-97, 91 S.Ct. at 2004-05; See also Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 100 S.Ct. 1468, 64 L.Ed.2d 15 (1980)(extending Bivens to Eighth Amendment claims); Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 239 n. 18, 99 S.Ct. 2264, 2274 n. 18, 60 L.Ed.2d 846 (1979)(extending Bivens to allow citizen's recovery of damages resulting from a federal agent's violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.) A Bivens action is the federal counterpart of an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. An action for money damages may be brought against federal agents acting under the color of their authority for injuries caused by their unconstitutional conduct. Proof of causation between the official's conduct and the alleged injury

Page 5

is necessary for there to be liability. A plaintiff asserting a claim under Bivens must show the violation of a valid constitutional right by a person acting under color of federal law. The United States Supreme Court has held that an inmate may name a federal officer in an individual capacity as a defendant in alleging an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation pursuant to Bivens. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 115 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991). However, Bivens claims are not actionable against the United States, federal agencies, or public officials acting in their official capacities. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475, 484-86, 114 S.Ct. 996, 127 L.Ed. 2d 308 (1994); Berger v. Pierce, 933 F.2d 393, 397 (6th Cir. 1991); Reinbold v. Evers, 187 F.3d 348, 355 n. 7 (4th Cir. 1999).

1. Failure to Exhaust:

The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)(1996), requires that inmates exhaust available administrative remedies prior to filing civil actions though the administrative process may not afford them the relief they might obtain through civil proceedings.3 Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 2382-83, 165 L.Ed.2d 368 (2006); Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 122 S.Ct. 983, 152 L.Ed.2d 12 (2002)(The Prison Litigation Reform Act's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong.); Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 121 S.Ct. 1819, 1820,149 L.Ed.2d 958 (2001)("Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), an inmate seeking only money damages must complete any prison

Page 6

administrative process capable of addressing the inmate's complaint and providing some form of relief, even if the process does not make specific provision for monetary relief."). Exhaustion of administrative remedies is also required when injunctive relief is requested. Goist v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 2002 WL 32079467, *4, fn.1 (D.S.C. Sep 25, 2002), aff'd, 54 Fed.Appx. 159 (4th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 1047, 123 S.Ct. 2111, 155 L.Ed.2d 1088 (2003). "[T]here is no futility exception to the PLRA's exhaustion requirement." Massey v. Helman, 196 F.3d 727, 733 (7th Cir. 1999). But the plain language of the statute requires that only "available" administrative remedies be exhausted. A grievance procedure is not "available" if prison officials prevent an inmate from using it. Dale v. Lappin , 376 F.3d 652, 656 (7th Cir. 2004); Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003)(inmate lacked available administrative remedies for exhaustion...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT