United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge.
Jervais Sovereign, 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") as defendants. All defendants except R.
Saylor were terminated by an earlier memorandum opinion, and
presently before me is Saylor's motion for summary
judgment.After reviewing the record, I find Saylor
is entitled to qualified immunity and summary
alleges in the complaint that Saylor, a staff psychologist at
WARSP, was deliberately indifferent to his Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder for four months. During that time, Plaintiffs
mother died, which prompted Plaintiffs suicide attempt on
January 12, 2015. See, e.g.. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
104 (1976); Conner v. Donnelly. 42 F.3d 220, 222
(4th Cir. 1994). Deliberate indifference requires a state
actor to have been personally aware of facts indicating a
substantial risk of serious harm, and the actor must have
actually recognized the existence of such a risk. Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994). "Deliberate
indifference may be demonstrated by either actual intent or
reckless disregard." Miltier v. Beorn. 896 F.2d
848, 851 (4th Cir. 1990): see Parrish ex rel. Lee v.
Cleveland, 372 F.3d 294, 303 (4th Cir. 2004)
("[T]he evidence must show that the official in question
subjectively recognized that his actions were
'inappropriate in light of that risk.'").
"A defendant acts recklessly by disregarding a
substantial risk of danger that is either known to the
defendant or which would be apparent to a reasonable person
in the defendant's position." Miltier, 896
F.2d at 851-52. A health care provider may be deliberately
indifferent when the treatment provided is so grossly
incompetent, inadequate, or excessive as to shock the
conscience or is intolerable to fundamental fairness.
Id. at 851.
fails to establish Saylor's deliberate indifference.
Saylor was not involved with Plaintiffs mental health care,
was not asked to assess Plaintiff, did not receive any
request for care from Plaintiff, and had no knowledge that
Plaintiff was suicidal before his suicide attempt. Indeed,
the documentation in Plaintiffs mental health file reflects
that Plaintiff repeatedly reassured other mental health
professionals that he was fine and had denied suicidal
ideations. '"In the absence of a previous threat of
or an earlier attempt at suicide, we know of no federal court
in the nation ... that has concluded that official conduct in
failing to prevent a suicide constitutes deliberate
indifference.'" Gordon v. Kidd. 971 F.2d
1087, 1094 (4th Cir. 1992) (quoting Edwards v.
Gilbert. 867 F.2d 1271, 1275 (11th Cir. 1989)).
Accordingly, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts from
which it could be established that Saylor had been
deliberately indifferent before the suicide attempt, and
Saylor's motion for summary judgment is granted.
1 did not order Plaintiff to respond to
Saylor's answer and, consequently, do not consider the
response he filed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1)(C).
 A party 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 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 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 facts that demonstrate the existence of a
genuine dispute of fact for trial. Id. at 322-24. 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). "Mere unsupported
speculation ... is not enough to defeat a summary judgment
motion." Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. &
Educ. Radio. Inc.. 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).
Qualified immunity permits "government officials
performing discretionary functions ... [to be] shielded from
liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not
violate clearly ...