United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. CONRAD, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
comes before the court on a motion for summary judgment by
the defendant prison officials, supported by affidavits.
Plaintiff Israel Ray Cooper, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, has responded, making the matter ripe for
disposition. After review of the parties'
submissions, the court concludes that material factual
disputes preclude summary judgment on Cooper's claim that
two officers used excessive force against him, and this
matter will be set for trial. The court will, however, grant
summary judgment for defendants as to Cooper's remaining
submissions allege the following sequence of events related
to his claims. On October 22, 2014, River North Correctional
Center ("River North") Sergeant ("Sgt.")
Lundy and Officer Leagan came to Cooper's
and allegedly ordered, "[C]uff up or be sprayed with
mace." (Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.) Cooper complied. The
officers locked him in a shower stall in the segregation unit
with his hands still cuffed behind his back. Leagan then
sprayed Cooper with mace "even though he posed no threat
to . . . safety, " and Sgt. Lundy "began assaulting
Cooper's hands while cuffed." (Id.) Cooper
alleges that he suffered "nerve damage to [his]
hand" during the incident. (Pl's Resp. 1, 4, ECF No.
25.) Cooper received three disciplinary charges-one for
attempting to spit at staff and two for possession of
Sgt. Lundy and Leagan moved Cooper to segregation on October
22, they also allegedly searched Cooper's personal
property items without preparing a proper inventory and
"threw away, lost or misplaced" numerous items.
(IcL 2.) Warden Wright ruled Cooper's grievance about
this property to be "founded, " because the
officers had not provided Cooper with an inventory of his
property items. Cooper was reimbursed $82.34 for the monetary
value of the missing or damaged property items.
result of the disciplinary charges, Cooper spent two months
in segregation. During disciplinary appeal proceedings,
Warden Wright reviewed surveillance camera footage of the
incident and dismissed the attempted spitting charge for
insufficient evidence. Cooper was found not guilty of
possessing a sex doll confiscated from his cell. He pleaded
guilty, however, to possessing razors that were found in his
shoe and contends they were pencil sharpeners, not weapons.
also filed grievances about not receiving proper notice of
all items confiscated as contraband after the cell search on
October 22, and Warden Wright found that this omission had
violated policy. Officer Shepherd served Cooper with an
incomplete confiscation form on October 22. Shepherd later
served a belated confiscation form on November 5, stating
that numerous photographs of children had been removed from
Cooper's cell. Cooper then had an opportunity to dispute
this confiscation through the grievance procedures, but the
items have not been returned to him.
brought this § 1983 action against Warden Wright,
Lieutenant P. A. Tincher, Sgt. Lundy, and Officers Leagan and
Shepherd. He raises three claims: (1) Lundy and Leagan
fabricated disciplinary charges against Cooper; failed to
inventory his personal property items; and lost or destroyed
several of his property items; (2) Shepherd violated prison
policy regarding notice of confiscated property; and (3)
Lundy and Leagan used excessive force against Cooper. Cooper
also alleges that the warden and Lt. Tincher are liable as
supervisory officials for the violations allegedly committed
by their subordinates.
Standard of Review.
should grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality . . . [o]nly
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby.
Inc.. 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a
material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Id. The court must draw all reasonable
inferences from the facts in favor of Cooper, the nonmoving
party. Williams v. Staples. Inc., 372 F.3d 662, 667
(4th Cir. 2004).
contends that he is entitled to damages under § 1983
because defendants admit that officers failed to follow
prison policies on several occasions. To state a cause of
action under § 1983, "a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law." West v. Atkins. 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)
(citations omitted). "[I]t is well settled that
violations of state law cannot provide the basis for a due
process claim" under § 1983. Weller v.
Dep't of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 392 (4th
Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). Similarly, a state's
failure to abide by its own procedural regulations is not a
federal due process issue, Riccio v. Cnty. of Fairfax.
Va., 907 F.2d 1459, 1469 (4th Cir. 1990), and is not
actionable under § 1983. Thus, Cooper's frustrations
that prison officials failed to comply with prison
regulations-by not properly completing or serving notice of
confiscation or inventory of his personal property items-do
not provide a basis for any claim under § 1983.
the court will grant summary judgment for all defendants on
Cooper's claims ...