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Inmate fails to show bias against white males

jmcnally//March 26, 2021

Inmate fails to show bias against white males

jmcnally//March 26, 2021

An inmate’s Eighth Amendment and Equal Protection claims, arising out of alleged bias against white males, was dismissed because he failed to show that he was treated any differently from other inmates.


Louis Roy Chapman, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging various violations of his constitutional rights because of what he perceives to be bias against him because he is a white male. The matter is presently before the court for evaluation of Chapman’s remaining claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1) and for consideration of a motion to remand or alter the judgment filed by Chapman, which the court construes as a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b).

Eighth Amendment

Chapman fails to satisfy either the objective or subjective prongs for any of his Eighth Amendment claims. Chapman fails to allege facts that plausibly suggest he sustained serious physical or emotional injury from any of the challenged conditions. Furthermore, in no instance does Chapman allege facts that indicate any defendant perceived that his or her actions subjected Chapman to a substantial risk of serious harm.

Equal Protection

Chapman alleges that defendants Smith and Kreitz would not process his job application for a law clerk position because Chapman is white, and they only hire “Black and Hispanic” clerks. However, Chapman does not allege that the position he desired was actually open and available to new hires, much less that he applied for, or even attempted to apply for, it at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner.

Further, Chapman does not allege what the qualifications for the position were, much less that his own qualifications (which he recites multiple times) were indeed compatible with the job requirements. Finally, Chapman does not identify a similarly situated comparator who he maintains was treated differently than Chapman in applying for the law clerk position. Even if the court were to ignore these basic issues, Chapman has offered nothing, aside from his own speculation and subjective beliefs, to indicate that any decision made by Smith and Kreitz was motivated by race in any way, much less that they harbored any animosity toward Chapman because he was white.

Chapman also alleges that Smith has “a black authors and Spanish language section with a plaque,” in the “regular library,” but “there are NO plaques for any other race.” Chapman has failed to show that he has been treated any differently than anyone else who used the library. Chapman does not allege that he was prohibited from accessing any materials in the library. At most, he has shown that he was exposed to “differential governmental messaging.” However, without more, even “exposure to a discriminatory message . . . is insufficient to plead an equal protection case.”

Chapman also alleges that Smith “included Martin Luther King Jr. [Day] on the law library/library calendar . . . [but] did not include Robert E. Lee [Day] or Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson [Day].” At its base, Chapman’s argument is that LCC has engaged in “differential governmental messaging” concerning the relative value it places on Martin Luther King Day and Lee-Jackson Day. As discussed above, “differential governmental messaging,” without “differential governmental treatment,” is not actionable under the Equal Protection Clause.

Chapman also alleges that Smith “had a black history program scheduled . . . the only race . . . given special treatment.” But as stated above, exposure to “differential governmental messaging,” without “differential governmental treatment,” is not actionable under the Equal Protection Clause.

Chapman next challenges the closure of a ball field where Chapman and other white inmates liked to play softball. However Chapman has not adequately alleged that he was treated differently than anyone else who used the reconstituted recreation area. Moreover, Chapman does not allege that there are any portions of the reconstituted recreation area that he was categorically barred from going because of his race. As for Chapman’s claim that the security concerns were somehow “fake” and the true motive for the closure was to discriminate against him and other white men, Chapman has offered nothing more than rank speculation on that point.

Rule 54(b) motion

Chapman essentially asks the court to “rethink what the Court had already thought through.” As such, Chapman has failed to identify any error sufficient to warrant relief under Rule 54(b).

Plaintiff’s claims dismissed. Plaintiff’s Rule 54(b) motion denied. Case dismissed.

Chapman v. Smith, Case No. 3:18-cv-597, March 3, 2021. EDVA at Richmond (Gibney). VLW 021-3-091. 18 pp.

VLW 021-3-091

Virginia Lawyers Weekly

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