United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Brent W. Cook, Plaintiff,
Pamunkey Regional Jail, et al., Defendants.
Bruce Lee United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court upon defendants' Motions
for Summary Judgment. This case concerns claims asserted by
Brent W. Cook, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The
remaining defendants, Sergeant Berry, Sergeant Dority, and
Officer Sletten, have each filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment as well as memoranda of law with supporting
exhibits. Plaintiff was given the Notice required by Local
Rule 7(K) and the opportunity to file responsive materials
pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4fh
Cir. 1975). Plaintiff did not file a response. The matter is
now ripe for disposition. The issue before the Court is
whether to grant defendants' Motions for Summary
Judgment. The Court concludes that there is no genuine issue
of material fact as to the claims against Sergeants Berry and
Dority and, therefore, Sergeant Berry's and Sergeant
Dority's Motions for Summary Judgment must be granted.
The Court also concludes that there remains a genuine issue
of material fact as to die claims against Officer Sletten
and, therefore, his Motion for Summary Judgment must be
denied, without prejudice to Officer Sletten filing a
supplemental motion on the merits of plaintiff s claims
times relevant, defendants were employees of the Pamunkey
Regional Jail ("PRJ"). On September 17, 2014,
Sergeant Berry instructed Officers Sletten and Walker to take
custody of plaintiff from the Hanover County Court Services
deputies. Dkt. Nos. 26-4, 26-5. When they arrived, plaintiff was
being attended to by emergency service personnel who informed
Officer Sletten that plaintiff could be restrained according
to protocol and that they "could find nothing wrong with
[plaintiff] per the evaluation process." Dkt. No. 26-5.
Officer Sletten handcuffed plaintiff, and Officer Walker
escorted plaintiff to the ambulance. Id. When
plaintiff and the officers arrived at the ambulance, an
unidentified woman approached from behind, yelling "Oh
my God, my son! I must hold my son." Id.
Officer Sletten stood between plaintiff and the woman and
asked her to "stay clear." Id. Plaintiff
became combative; therefore, Officer Sletten took control of
plaintiffs right arm while Officer Walker took control of
plaintiffs left arm. Id. Plaintiff then threatened
to kill Officer Sletten upon his release. Id.
Officer Walker accompanied plaintiff in the ambulance to the
hospital while Officer Sletten followed in the jail transport
vehicle. Id. Plaintiff was seen at the hospital and
told, in front of Officer Sletten, that "all the tests
came back normal." Id. Plaintiff was discharged
and, while Officers Sletten and Walker were taking him back
to the transport vehicle, plaintiff tried to fall to the
floor. Id. Officers Sletten and Walker carried
plaintiff to the transport vehicle where he refused to sit in
the vehicle and became combative. Id. When the
transport vehicle arrived at PRJ, plaintiff refused to exit
the transport vehicle. Id. Officer Sletten placed
plaintiff in an "escort hold and assisted him out of the
vehicle." Id. Plaintiff began to resist,
kicking off his left shoe and screaming, Id.
went through the booking process and was immediately placed
on "Pre-Hearing Detention" and "charged with a 1-1
(Assault) for assaulting Officer Walker, and a 1-12
(Threatening Bodily Harm), for threatening Officer Sletten
and 1 -15 (Disobeying a Direct Order), for refusing to exit
the vehicle after he was told to do so several times."
Dkt. Nos. 26-1 Tab 4, 26-4. A disciplinary hearing was
scheduled for September 19, 2014, at 6:30am; however, based
on comments made by plaintiff at the hearing, he was placed
on level 1 suicide watch for seven days instead. Dkt. Nos.
26-4, 26-6. It is PRJ's policy to not conduct
disciplinary hearings while an inmate is on suicide watch.
Dkt. No. 26-4. On September 26, 2014, plaintiff was given
notice of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for September 29,
2016. Dkt. No. 26-1, Tab 5. Plaintiff was found guilty on all
three charges at the disciplinary hearing and was sanctioned
to 45 days in disciplinary detention, which is defined in the
PRJ policy as "[s]pecial management bed assignment that
separates an inmate from the general population for a
specific period of time for a rule violation." Dkt. No.
26-1, Tabs 6, 7.
policy provides mat, when an inmate is transferred to
segregation, medical staff is immediately notified, the
inmate's medical file is reviewed to determine if the
inmate would be medically and mentally able to be in
segregation, and each inmate is visited by a health care
provider at least once a day. Dkt. No. 26-1, Tab 7.
Additionally, pursuant to PRJ policy 2A-52, plaintiff was
observed three times every hour while in disciplinary
segregation. Dkt. No. 26-4.
alleges that Sergeant Berry placed him "in solitary
knowing [of plaintiff's] mental condition bi polar [sic]
manic depressed anxity [sic] disorder and PTS, " causing
him "severe mental distress;" however, Sergeant
Berry states she had no personal knowledge that plaintiff had
a mental health condition. Dkt. Nos. 10, 26-4.
also alleges that Sergeant Dority was notified that
plaintiffs shoes were medically necessary for his bone spurs,
but that he refused to give plaintiff his medical shoes,
causing plaintiff "unfixable pain to [his] foot."
Dkt. No. 10. On September 19, 2014, plaintiff submitted a
Medical Request Form asking for pain medication "for
lower back and foot bone spurs;" Dkt. No. 11-1, however,
Sergeant Dority does not recall ever speaking to plaintiff
about medical shoes or bone spurs. Dkt. No. 26-6. In fact,
Sergeant Dority was not on duty on September 17, 2014, the
day plaintiff was brought to PRJ. Id. Additionally,
when inmates are processed, their shoes are removed and
placed in a property bag and then screened by a nurse who
returns the shoes to the inmate if they are authorized to
have them by intake staff. Id. Sergeant Dority is
not a part of the intake staff. Id.
plaintiff claims that Officer Sletten "slammed
[plaintiffs] thumb in the trey [sic] slot" on September
30, 2014, causing severe trauma to plaintiff's hand as
well as mental anguish. Dkt. No. 10. Plaintiff filed an
Inmate Request Form that day asserting these claims. Dkt. No.
11-1. On October 1, 2014, at approximately 2:30 pm, Officer
Sletten went to speak with plaintiff, at plaintiffs request.
Dkt. No. 26-5. Officer Sletten
opened the tray slot and kneeled down to the side of the door
to speak to [plaintiff], [Plaintiff] pushed his disciplinary
finding sheet out of the tray slot. [Officer Sletten] then
handed the paperwork back to [plaintiff], shut and locked the
tray slot door and walked away. [Plaintiff] yelled,
"Hey, my paperwork is stuck in the door."
[Plaintiff] was sitting on the bunk when [Officer Sletten]
returned to [plaintiffs cell] and opened the tray slot
allowing the papers to fall inside the cell. [Officer
Sletten] then closed the tray slot and exited the unit.
[Plaintiff's] fingers were not in the trey [sic] slot
when [Officer Sletten] closed it.
Id. That same day, at around 3:00 pm, plaintiffs
right thumb was x-rayed. Dkt. No. 26-1. The results came back
normal. Id. On October 3, 2014, plaintiff told the
medical staff that he "hit is hand on the door because
he [had] not rcvd [sic] his glasses." Id.,
X-rays of plaintiff s right hand taken on October 4, 2014,
showed normal results. Id.
is alleging that Sergeants Berry and Dority violated his
Eighth Amendment rights by showing deliberate indifference to
a serious medical need, that Sergeant Berry violated his
Eighth Amendment rights based on his conditions of
confinement, and that Officer Sletten violated his Eighth
Amendment right by using excessive force.
Standard of Review
judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The moving party bears the burden
of proving that judgment on the pleadings is appropriate.
See Celotex Com, v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317. 323
(1986). To meet that burden, the moving party must
demonstrate that no genuine issues of material fact are
present for resolution. Id. at 322. Once a moving
party has met its burden to show that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law, the burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party to point out the specific facts that create
disputed factual issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby.
Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a
district court should consider the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences from those facts in favor of that party.
United States v. Diebold. Inc.,369 U.S. 654. 655
(1962) Those facts which the moving party bears the burden of
proving are facts which are material. "[T]he substantive
law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes
over facts which might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. An issue
of material fact is genuine when, "the evidence ...
create[s] [a] fair doubt; wholly speculative assertions ...