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Casey v. Clarke

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

December 2, 2016

HAROLD W. CLARKE, ET AL., Defendants.

          Freddie Eugene Casey, Pro Se Plaintiff;

          Jessica J. Berdichevsky, Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, Virginia, for Defendants Clarke, Large, Messer, Barton, Mead, and Young;

          Carlene Booth Johnson, Perry Law Firm, Dillwyn, Virginia, for Defendant Wood.



         Plaintiff Freddie Eugene Casey, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, brought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison officials violated his constitutional rights by maintaining him in restraints during his hospitalization and related transportation. He also sues a prison nurse for deliberate indifference to injuries caused by the restraints. After careful review of the defendants' dispositive motions and Casey's submissions, I conclude that the nurse's Motion to Dismiss must be granted and that Casey is barred from pursuing his other § 1983 claims because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this action.


         On November 26, 2014, at Red Onion State Prison (“Red Onion”), Casey complained of ongoing pain in his right side and shortness of breath and was moved to the infirmary. A nurse determined that air was not entering Casey's lung. Officers placed him in handcuffs and shackles, connected to a waist chain, and transported him to Mountain View Hospital in Norton, Virginia, where he was evaluated and treated by a doctor and admitted for further treatment and observation. Casey remained in full restraints at all times while outside the prison. When he asked the officers to remove them, they refused, saying that the restraints complied with Red Onion security policy. Only when the doctor needed Casey to raise his hands above his head to conduct a procedure did the officers temporarily release the handcuffs from the waist chain. Casey alleges that the restraints caused wounds to both wrists.

         The hospital doctor referred Casey to a lung specialist at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center (“MCV”) in Richmond for further evaluation. Casey returned to Red Onion on November 30 to await an appointment at MCV. He “showed [Nurse Wood] the (2) inch by (3) inch wounds on both [his] wrists but she said they needed no treatment because they were scabbed nicely.” (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1.) The next morning, Casey asked another nurse to treat his wrists, and the nurse agreed to do so. This nurse later refused, stating that treatment would interfere with the restraints necessary to transport Casey to MCV.

         On December 2, after a seven-hour ambulance ride in full restraints, Casey was admitted to MCV for testing. The nurses and doctors there were allegedly “appalled” at the sores the restraints had caused on his wrists and treated and bandaged them. (Id.) Casey's treating physicians at MCV decided to operate on his lung and place a drain tube in it. On December 13, 2014, Casey was released from the hospital and spent several weeks at Greensville Correctional Center (“Greensville”) in the infirmary. Greensville medical staff members were also allegedly “appalled” by the “huge sores” on Casey's wrists and took pictures of them. The surgery was successful, and Casey was returned to Red Onion in January 2015. A nerve specialist allegedly confirmed later in 2015 that Casey had suffered nerve damage to his hands.[1]

         Casey filed his § 1983 Complaint in December 2015, alleging due process and deliberate indifference claims against the defendants under Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

         Defendant Wood has filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Casey's allegations fail to state a § 1983 claim against her. Other defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the ground that Casey failed to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing this action. Casey has responded to both motions, making these matters ripe for consideration.


         A motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. See, e.g., Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 553-63 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In conducting its review, a court must accept as true those allegations of fact that are well pleaded, but “need not accept plaintiff's unwarranted deductions, footless conclusions of law, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.” Custer v. Sweeney, 89 F.3d 1156, 1163 (4th Cir. 1996) (affirming dismissal of action) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Section 1983 permits an aggrieved party to file a civil action against a person for actions taken under color of state law that violated his constitutional rights. Cooper v. Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). An Eighth Amendment claim regarding medical care requires proof that, objectively, the prisoner plaintiff was suffering from a serious medical need and that, subjectively, the defendant was deliberately indifferent to that need. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A serious medical need in this context is “one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). To prove deliberate indifference, the ...

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