United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This prisoner civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 comes before me on the Report and Recommendation of the Honorable Pamela Meade Sargent, United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The Report states proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended disposition, based on evidence presented during a bench trial on November 5, 2015. After review of the Report and several subsequent submissions from the pro se plaintiff, Denis Rivera, a Virginia prison inmate, I will accept the Report without alteration and enter judgment for Rivera for damages of $500 as recommended in the Report.
Rivera’s Amended Complaint, among other things, alleged that two Red Onion State Prison correctional officers, defendants J.B. Dickenson and S. Patrick, used excessive force against him on December 28, 2012, and that defendant Nurse S. Scott was deliberately indifferent to serious medical needs when he failed to provide treatment for Rivera’s resulting injuries. As relief, Rivera demanded termination of employment for Dickenson, Patrick, and Scott; a transfer away from Red Onion; nominal damages of $500; compensatory damages of $15, 000; punitive damages of $5, 000; and costs.
I granted summary judgment in favor of Scott. Rivera v. Dickenson, No. 7:14CV00573, 2015 WL 5565273, at *6 (W.D. Va. Sept. 21, 2015). Specifically, I found that Rivera’s disagreement with Scott’s examination and treatment decisions was essentially a claim of negligence that is not actionable under § 1983. Id. I denied summary judgment, however, on Rivera’s claim that Dickenson and Patrick used excessive force against him. Id. at *2. I expressly found that the parties’ differing factual accounts presented
genuine issues of material fact in dispute as to Rivera’s behavior, the officers’ observations, the degree of threat the officers reasonably could have perceived from the circumstances, the need for force, the relationship between the need for force and the amount of force applied, and the extent of Rivera’s injuries from the incident.
The Report summarizes the trial evidence and finds that the defendants Dickenson and Patrick used unnecessary and, therefore, excessive force against Rivera by striking him in the head and pushing him to the floor of his cell for no reason. The Report finds no persuasive evidence, however, “that the defendants repeatedly kicked, punched and kneed [Rivera] while he was lying on the ground, in that the minor physical injuries observed by Scott [who testified at trial] do not support such a beating.” (Report 25, ECF No. 110.)
The Report also finds that as a result of the defendants’ use of excessive force on December 28, 2012, “Rivera suffered fairly minor injuries of a knot on his head, an abrasion above his right eye and some eventual bruising on his right eye and cheekbone area.” (Id.) The Report finds that these injuries had resolved by January 10, 2013, when Dr. Miller examined Rivera and made no mention of them. (Id.) The Report finds that while “Rivera likely suffered some discomfort caused by these injuries, ” he did not prove that the December 28, 2012, “incident or his injuries have resulted in the continuing pain or the emotional problems that he claims.” (Id. at 25-26.) Specifically, the Report finds that Rivera failed to present “any medical evidence that his continuing problems with headaches or his right eye were caused by the defendants’ use of excessive force on him.” (Id. at 25 (emphasis added).)
The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to this court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The district judge is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the report and recommendation to which a party makes proper objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district judge “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations, ” “may alsoreceive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).
Although the district court may give a magistrate judge’s proposed findings and conclusions “such weight as [their] merit commands and the sound discretion of the judge warrants, ” the authority and the responsibility to make an informed final determination of these matters remains with the district judge. United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 682-83 (1980) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Therefore, in performing a de novo review, the district judge must exercise “his non-delegable authority by considering the actual testimony, and not merely by reviewing the magistrate’s report and recommendations.” Wimmer v. Cook, 774 F.2d 68, 76 (4th Cir. 1985).
A party objecting to the magistrate judge’s findings must do so “with sufficient specificity so as reasonably to alert the district court of the true ground for the objection.” United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007). “General objections that merely reiterate arguments presented to the magistrate judge lack the specificity required under Rule 72, and have the same effect as a failure to object, or as a waiver of such objection.” Moon v. BWX Techs., Inc., 742 F.Supp.2d 827, 829 (W.D. Va. 2010), aff’d in part, vacated in part, 498 F. App’x 268 (4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished). “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
The defendants have not filed any objections to the Report and Recommendation. Rivera has filed a pleading titled “Objection to Proposed Findings ...