United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSHUA A. HUFFMAN, Plaintiff,
WICOMICO COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
Huffman is a Mar; land state prisoner who is presently
incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution in
Cumberland. Maryland. Now pending is Huffman's Complaint
tiled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. which he
supplemented at the direction of the Court. ECF No. 1: ECF
No. 6. Defendants, the Wicomico County Detention Center
("WCDC"). MCO Shovel. Lieutenant Byrd, Mrs.
Williams, and Sergeant Gonzalez, by their counsel, pursuant
to Rules 12(b) and 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, move to dismiss the Complaint with prejudice, or
in the alternative, for summary judgment. ECF No.
Huffman filed an Opposition in reply. ECF No. 14.
matter is ready for disposition. The Court finds that a
hearing is unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. (D. Md.
2016). For reasons to follow. Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss is granted.
April and June 2015. Huffman was confined at WCDC. ECF No. 1
at 3. Huffman alleges that he was kept in protective custody
on lock down status "for no reason" and
allowed only one hour of recreation time, during which there
was no access to bathroom facilities. Id. Huffman
supplemented the Complaint to allege that there was black
mold in his cell and that the kitchen was infested with
roaches. ECF No. 6 at 1. 8. He also explained that during his
limited recreation time, he was ed to use the shower as a
bathroom. Id. at 2. He complains his cell lacked
fresh air causing him self-reported asthma attacks, worsening
of his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and
anxiety attacks. ECF No. 6 at 3-4. Huffman further alleges
that staff would not let him use his emergency COPD inhaler
and purposefully ignored him when he tried to get their
attention to request his inhaler. Id. at 4. Huffman
claims his cell "felt like 110 degrees" and had no
windows or air conditioning, hi. at 7. He states
officers placed a fan in the hall which provided little
relief, and told him there was nothing they could do about
the temperature. Id.
also asserts he was denied adequate access to the law
library. Id. at 5. He posits that he might have gone
to the library five or six times, and each time his visit
lasted less than one hour. Id. Huffman asserts that
"everyone" filed complaints and grievances about
the conditions at WCDC. but they were ignored. Id.
at 6. As relief, he seeks $1 million in damages. ECF No. 1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint if it "fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This
rule's purpose "is to test the sufficiency of a
complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts,
the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480. 483 (4th Cir. 2006). To that end, the Court
bears in mind the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly 550 U.S. 544 (2007). and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662 (2009).
when considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint must contain "a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
and must state "a plausible claim for relief." as
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. "A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. at 663.
preliminary matter, the Court notes that WCDC is a prison
facility, not a "person" subject to suit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Inanimate objects such as buildings,
facilities, and grounds do not act under color of state law
and are not subject to suit under § 1983. See Preval
v. Reno. 57 F.Supp.2d 307, 310 (E.D. Va. 1999)
("[T]he Piedmont Regional Jail is not a
"person." and therefore not amenable to suit under
42 U.S.C. $ 1983."): Brooks v. Pembroke City
Jail. 722 F.Supp. 1294. 1301 (E.D. N.C. 1989)
("Claims under § 1983 are directed at
"persons' and the jail is not a person amenable to
suit."). Thus. Huffman's §1983 claims against
WCDC will be dismissed with prejudice.
liability on the part of the remaining defendants requires a
showing that the named Defendants acted personally in the
deprivation of his rights. See Preval. 57 F.Supp.2d
at 310 ("liability will only lie where it is
affirmatively shown that the official charged acted
personally in the deprivation of the plaintiffs
rights."). Apart from naming Defendants in the
supplement to the Complaint, nowhere does Huffman attribute a
specific action or omission to any Defendant that deprived
him of his constitutional rights. Sec generally ECF
2: ECF 6. The Court would reach the same conclusion even if
it were to construe Huffman's subsequent submissions,
including his response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
ECF Nos. 14 and a letter to the Court on November 13. 2016.
ECF No. 15. as attempts to amend his Complaint. In those
documents. Huffman references an argument he had with one
Defendant. Officer Shovel, but does not allege that Officer
Shovel took any action to deprive him of a constitutional
right. ECF No. 14 at 2: ECF No. 15 at 3." A federal court
may not act as an advocate for a self-represented litigant,
sec Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241. 242-43
(4th Cir. 1996): Weller v. Dep't of Social
Servs., 901 F.2d 387. 391 (4th Cir. 1990). or
"conjure up questions never squarely presented."
Beaudett v. City of Hampton. 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4lh Cir. 1985). cert, denied. 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).
named Defendants therefore are also entitled to dismissal of
the Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ., F. 12(b)(6): see
also 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) (mandating
dismissal at any time if the Court determines the action
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted).
Because Huffman is self-represented, the dismissal will be
without prejudice and Huffman will be permitted to supplement
his Complaint to explain the specific action that each named
Defendant took to deprive him of a constitutional right.
foregoing reasons. Defendants" Motion to Dismiss. ECF
No. 12, shall be ...