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Lane v. Unknown Griffin

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

August 2, 2018

JASON D. LANE PLAINTIFF
v.
UNKNOWN GRIFFIN, UNKNOWN RANDY, and RICHARD PENNINGTON DEFENDANTS

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          JANE M. VIRDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of dismissal. Plaintiff Jason D. Lane, an inmate at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman (“Parchman”), has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Parchman transport officer, Mr. Griffin; Valley Food Services Kitchen Supervisor, Mr. Randy; and against Parchman Administrative Remedies Program (“ARP”) Director, Richard Pennington. Having fully considered Lane's allegations and the applicable law, the Court finds this complaint is frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Lane alleges that on July 31, 2017, he was a passenger in a transport van driven by transport officer Griffin that was returning to Unit 29 at Parchman from a medical visit. He alleges that while the van was sitting the gate waiting for it to open, a food services truck driven by Randy backed into the transport van, thereby injuring Lane's neck and back. Lane and the other passengers in the van were taken to the on-site medical unit, where Lane received Advil and Ibuprofen.

         Lane filed the instant § 1983 action on or about June 20, 2018, alleging that he was harmed by Randy's actions and Griffin's failure to act. He further alleges that he was improperly denied ARP relief by Pennington. He asks the Court to award him monetary damages and to transport him to another facility to address his “safety concerns as a result of this lawsuit.” Doc. #1 at 5.

         II. Screening Standards

         Because Lane has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in this action, his complaint is subject to sua sponte dismissal under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (subjecting prisoner complaint to preliminary screening regardless of in forma pauperis status). Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court is obligated to evaluate the complaint and dismiss it if it is “frivolous or malicious, ” if it “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or if it “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” § 1915(e)(2). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if relief could not be granted to the plaintiff “under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations” in the complaint. Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025 (5th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted); see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (holding that complaint fails to state a claim only where it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face”).

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendants Randy and Griffin

         Under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, prison officials must avoid excessive risks to inmate safety. See, e.g., Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The Eighth Amendment is not violated, however, unless the official acts with deliberate indifference to the inmate's health or safety, which occurs only if he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.

         Because of the subjective component necessary to establish liability, an officer cannot be deliberately indifferent when an inmate is a victim of an unforeseeable event. See, e.g., Adames v. Perez, 331 F.3d 508, 512 (5th Cir. 2003) (“Therefore, in order for liability to attach to a prison official's failure to protect, the substantial risk and the need for protection must be obvious.”). Accordingly, negligence or dereliction of duty cannot be the basis of a failure-to-protect claim. Id.; see also Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986) (holding negligence does not state §1983 cause of action).

         Here, Lane has not alleged that the food-services driver[1] intentionally rammed the transport van or that Griffin took deliberate action to ensure that an accident occurred, nor has he alleged any facts from which such circumstances could be inferred. Rather, he alleges a fender-bender, which raises, at most, an allegation that Randy and/or Griffin were negligent in their duties. Accordingly, Lane's claims are not supported by any facts that would allow a finding of deliberate indifference by any named defendant, and Randy and Griffin are entitled to be dismissed from this lawsuit.

         B. Defendant Richard Pennington

         Lane alleges that Pennington denied him access to the ARP process by failing to respond to his grievances. However, inmates have no constitutional or federal right to a prison grievance procedure, Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994), and no due process liberty interest in having their ...


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