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Baker v. Corbin

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

June 13, 2016

CHRISTOPHER LEE BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CLAY CORBIN, et at . Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge

         Christopher Lee Baker, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants are Clay Corbin, the Captain of Security at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center ("Jail"), and James Whitley, the Jail's Superintendent. Plaintiff argues that Capt. Corbin deliberately interfered with necessary medical treatment by not allowing him to receive the amber-tinted eyeglasses he ordered from the internet. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, the court grants the motion for summary judgment.

         I.

         Plaintiff alleges the following in the verified complaint:

I have been denied my eyeglasses that [we]re medically prescribed for me [in] the past six months. I am legally blind in my right eye, and my vision in my left eye is deteriorating ... for I have to strain to see .... My eye hurts, and I am having serious headaches.
* * *
The eyeglasses in question are not dark tinted, only amber tint. They are not reading glasses. They are prescribed. The reason they were ordered from E-bay was I couldn't afford several hundred dollars so I sent my eye exam[] and eye prescription forms to an eyeglasses company online. The glasses are legitimate eyeglasses. I have the box and the paper work with them in my property at this facility.

(Compl. 2-3.)

         Capt. Corbin denied Plaintiffs requests to receive the eyeglasses from Ebay because, inter alia, they were not authorized due to the risk of safety and security to the Jail. These particular eyeglasses had two pieces of metal on each ear piece, and the Jail does not allow eyeglasses of any kind, prescription or reading, that contain metal pieces that can be used as weapons.

         The issues of safety and security were particular important here because Plaintiff has had multiple incidents of fashioning or making shanks and weapons from screws, metal pieces, battery cores, and a spring from an ink pen. Jail staff had also documented Plaintiffs threats to kill or assault Jail staff, other inmates, and police; threats to escape on numerous occasions; and threats and attempts of self-harm and suicide.

         The Jail does allow eyeglasses if they are medically necessary, otherwise meet the Jail's security requirements, and are approved. The Jail also allows reading glasses if they are purchased through the canteen because those eyeglasses meet security requirements. Tinted eyeglasses are also available through the canteen if prescribed by a doctor.

         Notably, Plaintiff had not established to either defendant, before or after he ordered the eyeglasses from Ebay, that they were prescribed or met the Jail's security requirements. Capt. Corbin explains that he had never seen a prescription for the eyeglasses ordered from Ebay. Furthermore, an ophthalmologist examined Plaintiff in September 2015, which was two months before Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment, and that doctor did not order any type of glasses as medically necessary.[1] As of September 3, 2015, Plaintiff had requested a pair of reading glasses from the canteen, the request was approved, and Plaintiff paid $4.00 to receive them. Plaintiff was never denied the right to purchase reading glasses from the canteen.

         Superintendent Whitley avers he had no personal involvement with or contemporaneous knowledge about ...


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