Field v. West Virginia

Decision Date16 December 2020
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 2:20-00147
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of West Virginia
PartiesDALE P. FIELD, JR., Plaintiff, v. STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, et al., Defendants.

Pending before the Court are the following: (1) Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Case to Circuit Court of Kanawha County (Document No. 8), filed on March 18, 2020; and (2) Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (Document No. 19), filed on April 27, 2020. The Court notified Plaintiff pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 304 (4th Cir. 1975), that Plaintiff had the right to file a response to Defendants' Motion and submit Affidavit(s) or statements and/or other legal or factual material supporting his claims as they are challenged by the Defendants in moving to dismiss. (Document No. 5.) Plaintiff filed his Response in Opposition on May 19, 2020. (Document No. 22.) On May 26, 2020, Defendants filed their Reply. (Document No. 24). (Id.) Having examined the record and considered the applicable law, the undersigned has concluded that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Document No. 8) should be denied, and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Document No. 19) should be granted.


On August 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County a Complaint alleging a violation of his constitutional rights. (Document No. 1-1, pp. 1 - 9.) As Exhibits, Plaintiff attached a copy of his grievances. (Id., pp. 10 - 17.) On September 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed his "Notice of Administrative Remedy Exhausted." (Id., pp. 19 - 21.) On September 27, 2019, Plaintiff filed his Affidavit. (Id., pp. 21 - 22) On January 21, 2020, Plaintiff provided his updated address. (Id., p. 30.) On January 24, 2020, the Kanawha County Circuit Court issued Summonses on behalf of Plaintiff. (Id., pp. 31 - 34.) On February 20, 2020, the above action was removed to this Court. (Document Nos. 1 and 1-2.) Specifically, Defendants filed their Petition/Notice of Removal and paid the required filing fee (Document Nos. 1, 1-2, 1-3.) On January 26, 2020, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Complaint and Memorandum in Support. (Document Nos. 3 and 4.) Notice pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), was issued to Plaintiff on February 26, 2020, advising him of the right to file a response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Document No. 5.)

On March 18, 2020, Plaintiff filed the following: (1) A "Motion to Remand Case to Circuit Court of Kanawha County" (Document No. 8); (2) A "Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint" (Document No. 9); (3) A "Motion to Appoint Guardian ad Litem" (Document No. 10); and (4) A Motion to Extend Time to File Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Document No. 11). By Order entered on March 19, 2020, the undersigned granted Plaintiff's Motion to Amend1 and Motion for Extension of Time and denied Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Guardian ad Litem. (Document No. 12.) On March 25, 2020, Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (Document No. 13.) On March 26, 2020, Plaintiff filed his Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Document No. 14.) Plaintiff filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel on March 26, 2020, and the undersigned denied the Motion on March 30,2020. (Document Nos. 15 and 16.) On April 3, 2020, Defendants filed their Reply to Plaintiff's Response in Opposition. (Document No. 17.)

On April 15, 2020, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint. (Document No. 18.) As Defendants, Plaintiff names the following: (1) State of West Virginia; (2) Betsy Jividen, Commissioner of Division of Rehabilitation and Corrections; (3) Kelly Lantum, Superintendent of Tygart Valley Regional Jail; and (4) Captain Patrice, Captain of Tygart Valley Regional Jail.2 (Id., p. 1.) Plaintiff alleges he was transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on or about February 9, 2019. (Id., p. 2.) Plaintiff explains that he was "housed in section A8, which was considered a general population section of inmates who had like charges or otherwise needed to be in protective custody, but desired an open general population section." (Id.) Plaintiff states that on or about March 18, 2019, a group of inmates housed in Section A8 were involved in a physical altercation and Section A8 was on "lockdown" for 72 hours in order to allow an investigation and removal of involved inmates. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on or about "March 15, 2019,3 the section was opened up after the involved offenders were removed from the section." (Id.) Plaintiff states that the offenders involved in the incident were returned to Section A8 on March 22, 2019, and Section A8 was again placed on "lockdown." (Id.) Plaintiff complains that "[t]he A8 inmates, Plaintiff included, were told that the indefinite lockdown period was a direct result of the fight, and that the inmates would be on lockdown because we 'didn't know how to act and get along.'" (Id.) Plaintiff claims there were 29 inmates housed in Section A8, and only five or six were involved in thealtercation that resulted in the "lockdown." (Id.) Plaintiff complains that "[o]ther general population sections are given open use of TV, telephone, gym, outside recreation during daylight hours, use of dayroom, open use of showers, and social interaction." (Id.) Plaintiff complains that the foregoing was denied to Plaintiff "[d]uring the mass punishment lockdown." (Id., p. 3.) Plaintiff states that during the "lockdown," inmates in Section A8 were released once a day, one at a time, for approximately an hour to shower and make one phone call. (Id.) Plaintiff acknowledges that on April 29, 2019, "A8 was released from lockdown and turned back into general population." (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that "[t]his treatment was a clear mass punishment incident that differentiated all the A8 inmates from other sections in the jail as no other section is treated to these conditions for the same reasoning." (Id.) Plaintiff complains that the threat of lockdown continued for Section A8 for "every incident that occurred, while other sections remained without threat when incidents occurred." (Id.) Plaintiff acknowledges that inmates in Section A8 were "offered the opportunity to remove themselves from the section while it was a lockdown section, the only option made available to Plaintiff and others were sections that would put them directly in harm's way due to the nature of the charges against them." (Id.) Plaintiff further claims that the "[a]dministrative grievance procedure has not been followed and ignored by both the institution and the Commissioner's office."4 (Id.) Based upon the forgoing, Plaintiff claims as follows: (1) Defendants Lantum and Patrice improperly subjected Plaintiff to "mass punishment;" (2) Defendants have denied Plaintiff the right to due process by subjecting him to"lockdown" when no charges were made against Plaintiff; (3) Defendants failed to provide equal protection to Plaintiff when Plaintiff was subjected to a "mass lockdown" for an incident he was not involved in, and other housing sections are not subjected to a mass lockdown due to similar circumstances; (4) The "lockdown" constituted cruel and unusual punishment because Plaintiff was "punished" for an incident he was not part of and "subject to sub-par conditions being housed in a cell that was designed for one individual with dayroom access, and was reduced to two individuals without dayroom access and loss of additional privileges that are imbedded in human nature;" (5) Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the "wellbeing of the inmates when Plaintiff and others were confined to cell under segregation type conditions in respond to an incident that Plaintiff was not involved in;" (6) Defendants engaged in "improper supervision" by allowing Plaintiff to be placed in "twenty-three hour cell isolation," which treated Plaintiff "in a harsh manner without provocation, case or just reason;" and (7) Defendants exposed Plaintiff to emotional distress by confining Plaintiff "to a cell for twenty-three hours a day" with "sub-par conditions" for incidents that occurred not involving Plaintiff." (Id., pp. 3 - 6.) As relief, Plaintiff request monetary and injunctive relief. (Id., p. 6.)

As Exhibits, Plaintiff attaches the following: (1) A copy of his "Inmate Request/Grievance dated April 8, 2019" (Document No. 18-1, pp. 1 - 4.); (2) A copy of his undated appeal of the grievance to the Office of the Commissioner (Id., p. 5.); and (3) A copy of Plaintiff's letter to the Office of the Commissioner dated April 8, 2019 (Id., p. 6.).

On April 27, 2020, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum in Support. (Document Nos. 19 and 20.) In their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed based on the following: (1) The State of West Virginia is not a 'person' under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Document No. 20, pp. 4 - 5.); (2) "Plaintiff's AmendedComplaint fails to state a claim against Defendant Betsy Jividen, upon which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983" (Id., pp. 5 - 9.); (3) Plaintiff fails to state a claim of supervisory liability against Defendants Lantum and Patrice (Id., pp. 9 - 11.); (4) Plaintiff fails to show an Eighth Amendment violation against Defendants (Id., pp. 11 - 13.); (5) Plaintiff fails to prove a due process violation by Defendants (Id., pp. 13 - 16.); and (6) Plaintiff's claims are barred by qualified immunity (Id., pp. 16 - 17.) By Order entered on April 28, 2020, United States District Judge Irene C. Berger denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's original Complaint as moot. (Document No. 21.) On May 19, 2020, Plaintiff filed he Response in Opposition. (Document No. 22.) Defendants filed a Reply on May 26, 2020. (Document No. 24.)

Motion to Dismiss

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,...

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