United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge
Maxwell, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil
rights, complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming
various staff of the Wallens Ridge State Prison
("WARSP") and Virginia Department of Corrections
("VDOC") as defendants. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants used, or permitted the use of, excessive force in
violation of the Eighth Amendment and also violated due
process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants
filed a motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff responded,
making the matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the
record, I find that the excessive force claims against Sgt.
Bellamy, Correctional Officer ("C/O") C. Thomas,
and C/O W. Thomas must be resolved by trial and that the
defendants are entitled to qualified immunity and summary
judgment for all other claims.
shakedowns in the A2 pod on December 13, 2014, defendant Sgt.
Bellamy instructed defendant correctional officers C. Thomas
and M. Thomas to search Plaintiffs cell, allegedly because
Plaintiff recently had filed an administrative complaint
against Sgt. Bellamy for threatening to assault Plaintiff.
Thomas maintained control of Plaintiff with leg irons,
handcuffs, and a handcuff strap while officers searched the
cell. Plaintiff requested the presence of the Watch Commander
when the officers allegedly began to damage Plaintiffs legal
documents, and C/O C. Thomas told Plaintiff to quiet down.
admittedly did not comply with C/O C. Thomas' order to be
quiet. As a result, Sgt. Bellamy, C/O C. Thomas, and C/O W.
Thomas allegedly pushed Plaintiffs face against the wall,
"slammed" Plaintiff to the floor while wearing leg
irons and handcuffs, twisted his arm, and twisted his
testicles, all causing Plaintiff pain. During the take down
to the floor, C/O W. Thomas allegedly asked Plaintiff
repeatedly whether Plaintiff thought he "was tough"
and "had enough." Sgt. Bellamy allegedly instructed
C/O C. Thomas to claim that Plaintiff tried to assault
Thomas. Plaintiff alleges he was peaceable, not combative,
and did not attempt to pull away from C/O W. Thomas.
contrast, Defendants allege that Plaintiff became verbally
disruptive and attempted to pull away from an officer's
control when the officers were searching the cell. Defendants
acknowledge that they placed Plaintiff against the wall, but
they allege Plaintiff did not cease his disruptive behavior
and tried to assault defendant C/O C. Thomas. In response,
C/Os C. Thomas and W. Thomas secured Plaintiff to the floor.
Once Defendants believed Plaintiff had calmed down, Sgt.
Bellamy instructed C/Os C. Thomas and W. Thomas to stand
Plaintiff up, at which time non-defendant staff took control
of Plaintiff. Defendants deny that Plaintiff ever asked for
the Watch Commander, anyone told Plaintiff to "shut the
fuck up, " anyone slammed Plaintiff to the floor, anyone
taunted Plaintiff or asked him if he had had enough, or
anyone twisted Plaintiff's arms or testicles.
Lt. Carico arrived at Plaintiffs cell, and after consulting
with Sgt. Bellamy, allegedly poured a cup of coffee all over
Plaintiffs legal and personal property. The defendants placed
Plaintiff in ambulatory restraints for eight to fourteen
complains that defendant Captain Brown was the Watch
Commander who authorized Plaintiffs placement in ambulatory
restraints despite not having seen the incident. Plaintiff
complains that defendant Lt. Fleming, the institutional
investigator, determined the evidence was inconclusive to
establish the officers "assaulted" Plaintiff.
Plaintiff further complains that defendant Ponton, a VDOC
Regional Administrator, failed to supervise WARSP staff and
did not conduct a real investigation into Plaintiffs letters
and grievances about the incident.
related disciplinary charges were reported against Plaintiff.
The first charge alleged that Plaintiff failed to comply with
an order to stop kicking his cell door. Plaintiff challenged
the charge during the disciplinary hearing, claiming Sgt.
Bellamy never served the charge in accordance with VDOC
policy. Plaintiff wanted defendant C. Franks, the
disciplinary hearing officer ("DHO"), to watch the
pod's video camera to prove Sgt. Bellamy did not serve
the charge. Franks denied the request and deemed Plaintiff
guilty of the charge, relying on Sgt. Bellamy's assertion
that he served the charge.
three remaining charges were made by three officers for three
distinct events. C/O Pauley alleged that Plaintiff threatened
him, C/O Baker alleged that Plaintiff incited others to
withhold meal trays and kick cell doors, and C/O C. Thomas
alleged that Plaintiff tried to assault him during the
incident. Plaintiff similarly argued that Sgt. Bellamy did
not serve three charges in accordance with VDOC policy and
wanted defendant Hensley, the DHO of the second hearing, to
watch the pod's video camera to prove Sgt. Bellamy did
not serve the charges. Hensley denied the request and deemed
Plaintiff guilty of the charge, relying on Sgt. Bellamy's
assertion that he served the charges. As a result of all
these conviction, Plaintiff was ordered to serve ninety days
in segregation and pay $7.00 in fines.
filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they are
entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity permits
"government officials performing discretionary functions
... [to be] shielded from liability for civil damages insofar
as their conduct does not violate clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald.
457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Once a defendant raises the
qualified immunity defense, a plaintiff bears the burden to
show that a defendant's conduct violated the plaintiffs
right. Bryant v. Muth. 994 F.2d 1082, 1086 (4th Cir.
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); see Williams v.
Griffin. 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991) (recognizing
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). "Material facts" are
those facts 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 dispute 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 factfinder
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 CI 9861
If the movant satisfies this burden, then the non-movant must
set forth specific facts that demonstrate the existence of a
genuine dispute of fact for trial. Id. at 322-24. A
court may not resolve disputed facts, weigh the evidence, or
make determinations of credibility. Russell v. ...