United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Ellis, III, United States District Judge
Judah, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant
violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Defendant L.M.
Rodriguez, a sergeant at Sussex I State Prison
("SISP") 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 (4th Cir. 1975).
Plaintiff filed a response with supporting exhibits. This
matter is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment must be
granted in part and denied in part.
following facts are undisputed. On December 28, 2016, there
was an altercation between two inmates at SISP. Rodriguez
Aff. at Enclosure A; Verf. Compl. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff was
in the shower on the top tier of his housing unit at the time
of the altercation. Id; Verf. Compl. at ¶¶
6, 7. The emergency button was activated by the officers in
the housing unit and the inmates were directed to "lie
down on the ground, [and] put their palms facing up."
Id. Plaintiff did not immediately comply, therefore,
defendant went to the shower and directed plaintiff to get
out of the shower." Id; Verf. Compl. at ¶
8. Plaintiff did not immediately leave the shower and a K-9
officer was called. Id.; Verf. Compl. at
¶¶ 9, 11. Plaintiff then exited the shower and laid
down on the ground. Id; Verf. Compl. at ¶¶
13, 15. Defendant handcuffed plaintiff, lifted him off the
ground, and escorted plaintiff to the restricted housing
unit. Id; Verf. Compl. at ¶¶ 16-21. While
being escorted, plaintiff hit a wall, causing him to chip his
tooth. Id; Verf. Compl. at ¶¶ 22, 23.
Lieutenant Allen took plaintiff back to the shower, after
which he was seen by the medical staff. Id; Verf.
Compl. at ¶¶ 32.
was found to have a chipped tooth, abrasion on the inside of
his bottom lip, and a sprained thumb. Id; Feb. 19,
2016 Offender Request. Plaintiff was then placed in the
segregated housing unit and Officer Gayles charged plaintiff
with disobeying a direct order. Id. at ¶ 6,
Enclosure D.. A Disciplinary Offense Report which detailed
the charges against plaintiff was provided to him.
Id. at Enclosure D. At a disciplinary hearing on
January 12, 2016, plaintiff was found not guilty.
Id. The hearing officer found that plaintiff
"did not comply to [sic] the orders given he did not
want to lay down on the floor in the show [sic]. He laid down
outside the shower and posed no threat to security during the
incident that occurred in the pod being in the top
shower." Id. Plaintiff was returned to the
general housing population on January 19, 2016. Id.
disputed facts relate to how plaintiffs injuries were caused.
Defendant states that, while he was escorting plaintiff,
plaintiff "became aggressive, trying to jerk himself
free and turn towards" defendant. Rodriguez Aff. at
¶ 5. Defendant claims that he used plaintiffs
"momentum to place him against the wall in order to gain
control of the situation" which was "in accordance
with [defendant's] training." Id. Defendant
asserts that he "used only the amount of force necessary
to restrain [plaintiff] and maintain control of the
situation. Had [plaintiff] kept walking and cooperated with
the escort to special housing, it would not have become
necessary for [defendant] to put [plaintiff] against the
wall." Id. at ¶ 10.
alleges in his verified complaint that he was "walk[ing]
a slow pace to avoid a slip and fall" but defendant was
attempting to "force  plaintiff  to walk a faster
pace." Verf. Compl. at ¶¶ 19, 20. Plaintiff
states that he almost slipped, but was able to catch himself,
after which defendant "jerk[ed]  plaintiffs arm back
and then deliberately hurl[ed] him face first into a metal
door." Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff claims that
defendant "proceeded to bend [plaintiffs] left thumb
back, applying pressure that nearly broke it, while at the
same time thrusting his fore arm [sic] into  plaintiffs
neck with so much pressure it caused  plaintiff to lose his
bowels." Id. at ¶ 24. Plaintiff asserts
that defendant released him "after Lt. Allen's third
command" at which point Lt. Allen told plaintiff
"it's all on camera" and escorted plaintiff
back to the showers. Id. at 28-32. Plaintiff claims
that he not only suffered injuries to his thumb, mouth, and
teeth, but that he is also suffering from mental and
emotional distress, as well as possible "life long [sic]
complications with his neck." Id. at ¶ 41.
Plaintiff has submitted requests for medical attention
related to neck and back pain as well as psychological issues
from February through May 2016.
has also submitted affidavits from five other inmates. The
first inmate stated that he "observed [defendant] ...
escorting [plaintiff], " that he "never observed
[plaintiff] resisting or not complying with any officers,
" and that defendant "throw [sic] [plaintiff] into
a metal door and pinned him there until Lt[.] Allen rushed up
and instructed [defendant] to release [plaintiff]. When
[plaintiff] turned around [this inmate] observed that his
teeth was [sic] chipped and his mouth was bleeding."
Everette Aff. The second inmate stated that, while he was
lying on the ground, he
observed [defendant] handcuff [plaintiff] from the back, then
[he] observed [defendant] escorting [plaintiff] to the
stairs. Then for no apparent reason, [he] observed
[defendant] shove [plaintiff] into a metal door and keep
[plaintiffs] face pinned to the door for about 90 seconds.
When [plaintiff] was released [he] saw that [plaintiffs]
mouth was bleeding and his teeth was [sic] chipped. At no
time did [this inmate] see [plaintiff] resisting.
Aff. The third inmates stated that he saw defendant escorting
at no time did [he] see [plaintiff] resisting or causing a
disturbance. However, for no apparent reason, [he] observed
[defendant] slam [plaintiff] face first into a metal door and
then proceed to pin [plaintiff] to the door by planting his
forearm in [plaintiffs] neck. After Lt. Allen ran up the
stairs and instructed [defendant] to release [plaintiff, this
inmate] saw [plaintiffs] teeth was [sic] chipped and his
mouth was bleeding.
Aff. The fourth inmates states that, on the date of the
incident, he observed defendant "slam [plaintiff] into a
metal door while [plaintiff] was already in handcuffed [sic]
from the back. At no time did [this inmate] observe
[plaintiff] resisting or not complying." Daniels Aff.
The fifth inmate states that he observed defendant escorting
but before they made it to the stairway, [he] observed
[defendant] spin [plaintiff] around and slam [plaintiff] face
first into the metal door. [Defendant] then pinned
[plaintiff] to the door by slamming his forearm into
[plaintiffs] neck. [This inmate] then observed Lieutenant
Allen rush up the stairs and instructed [sic] [defendant] to
release [plaintiff]. At no time did [this inmate] observe
[plaintiff] resisting or not complying to any command by
either staff personnel. Subsequently ...