United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
K. MOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Keith Venable, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed a verified complaint and amendments pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is currently before me on a
motion for summary judgment by defendants Unit Manager Walter
Swiney, Lt. Steven Franklin, Sgt. Eric Miller regarding
Venable’s claim that the defendants subjected him to
cruel and unusual living conditions in April
2013. Venable has filed motions to amend and a
response to the motion for summary judgment, and this matter
is ripe for disposition. Upon consideration of the motion for
summary judgment, I conclude that defendants’ motion
must be granted in part and denied in part.
states that from April 23 to April 25, 2013, while housed at
Red Onion State Prison (“ROSP”), he was left in
an unsanitary cell covered with urine, feces, and blood
without shoes, a mat, or clothes other than a smock. Venable
alleges that he told Unit Manager Swiney, Lt. Franklin, and
Sgt. Miller about the urine, feces, and blood in the cell and
that Unit Manager Swiney also saw the deplorable condition of
the cell. Venable further alleges that no one did anything to
correct the conditions and that, as a result of staying in
the unclean cell, he has developed breathing problems, a
rash, post-traumatic stress disorder, and paranoia.
support of their motion for summary judgment, Unit Manager
Swiney avers that Sgt. Miller was not working at ROSP on
April 23-25, 2013 and that Lt. Franklin was not working at
ROSP on April 24-25, 2013. The defendants also argue that
Venable was not deprived of a basic human need, did not
suffer an injury as a result of the cell conditions, and that
the defendants were not deliberately indifferent to any
unsanitary cell conditions. Defendants ask the court to grant
them qualified immunity.
response to defendants’ motion for summary judgment,
Venable states that he knows that all three defendants were
at ROSP on April 24, 2013 because he spoke with all three of
them in the same room at the same time on that day. He also
states that Lt. Franklin signed a grievance response on April
24, 2013, when Unit Manager Swiney states Lt. Franklin not
is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those
necessary to establish the elements of a party’s cause
of action. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists if,
in viewing the record and all reasonable inferences drawn
therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving party,
a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the
non-movant. Id. The moving party has the burden of
showing - “that is, pointing out to the district court
- that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party’s case.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the movant
satisfies this burden, then the non-movant must set forth
specific, admissible facts that demonstrate the existence of
a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. at 322-23. A
party is entitled to summary judgment if the record as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in
favor of the non-movant. Williams v. Griffin, 952
F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991); see Ennis v. Nat’l
Ass’n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55,
62 (4th Cir. 1995) (“Mere unsupported speculation . . .
is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion.”).
However, summary judgment is not appropriate where the
ultimate factual conclusions to be drawn are in dispute.
Overstreet v. Ky. Cent. Life Ins. Co., 950 F.2d 931,
937 (4th Cir. 1991). A court may not resolve disputed facts,
weigh the evidence, or make determinations of credibility.
Russell v. Microdyne Corp., 65 F.3d 1229, 1239 (4th
Cir. 1995); Sosebee v. Murphy, 797 F.2d 179, 182
(4th Cir. 1986). Instead, a court accepts as true the
evidence of the non-moving party and resolves all internal
conflicts and inferences in the non-moving party’s
favor. Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d
406, 414 (4th Cir. 1979).
establish that living conditions constitute cruel and unusual
punishment, a prisoner must prove (1) that “the
deprivation of a basic human need was objectively
sufficiently serious, ” and (2) that
“subjectively the officials acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind.” Strickler v. Waters,
989 F.2d 1375, 1379 (4th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Only extreme deprivations are adequate to satisfy
the objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim
regarding conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8-9 (1992). In order to
demonstrate such an extreme deprivation, a prisoner must
allege “a serious or significant physical or emotional
injury resulting from the challenged conditions, ”
Strickler, 989 F.2d at 1381, or demonstrate a
substantial risk of such serious harm resulting from the
prisoner’s exposure to the challenged conditions,
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33-35 (1993). The
subjective component of an Eighth Amendment claim challenging
the conditions of confinement is satisfied by a showing of
deliberate indifference by prison officials. See Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). “Deliberate
indifference entails something more than mere negligence . .
. [but] is satisfied by something less than acts or omissions
for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that
harm will result.” Id. at 835. It requires
that a prison official actually know of and disregard an
objectively serious condition, medical need, or risk of harm.
See Id. at 837; Shakka v. Smith, 71 F.3d
162, 166 (4th Cir. 1995).
allegations of being left for multiple days in a cell covered
with urine, feces, and blood without protective clothing, a
mat, or shoes describes an exposure to conditions that
present a substantial risk of contracting a communicable
disease often present in prison populations, such as HIV or
various types of hepatitis. Furthermore, Venable states that
he informed Unit Manager Swiney, Lt. Franklin, and Sgt.
Miller about the condition of the cell, that Unit Manager
Swiney saw the cell covered with urine, feces, and blood, and
that the defendants disregarded Venable’s health
concerns. Due to disputes of material facts between
Venable’s and defendants’ versions of events, a
trial is necessary to resolve these claims. See Barkes v.
First Corr. Med., Inc., 766 F.3d 307, 316 (3d Cir. 2014)
(“[A] genuine dispute of material fact will preclude
summary judgment on qualified
reasons stated, I will deny Venable’s first pending
motion to amend but grant his second pending motion to amend.
I will grant Unit Manager Swiney, Lt. Franklin, and Sgt.
Miller’s motion for summary judgment as to
Venable’s claims for damages against these defendants
in their official capacity but deny it as to Venable’s
claim about living conditions.