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Harvey v. Large

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

January 31, 2017

TERRENCE A. HARVEY, Plaintiff,
v.
T.D. LARGE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Terrence A. Harvey, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants subjected him to excessive force, failed to intervene when another officer was using excessive force, subjected him to cruel and unusual living conditions, denied him adequate medical treatment, and destroyed his personal property. Defendants filed motions for summary judgment and Harvey responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I conclude that Harvey's personal property claim fails to state a federal claim and that all of Harvey's remaining claims except those relating to his placement and confinement in five-point restraints are unexhausted. Accordingly, I will dismiss the property claim and grant defendants' motions for summary judgment as to all claims except those involving the five-point restraints, as to which I will deny summary judgment.

         I.

         Harvey alleges that on March 18, 2015, Sergeant Large used excessive force against him multiple times and Lieutenant Sykes stood by and did not intervene. Harvey states that he suffered multiple physical injuries as a result of the excessive force and that Captain Still “ignored” Harvey's injuries and instructed Sgt. Large to put Harvey into ambulatory restraints. Nurse Mullins came to inspect the ambulatory restraints, but she “ignored” and “refused to treat” Harvey's injuries. Harvey alleges that while he was being transported in the ambulatory restraints, Officers Gibson, Addington, and Woliver used excessive force against him, causing him to suffer additional physical injuries.

         Thereafter, Harvey was placed in five-point restraints by Lieutenant Franklin, Sargent Collins, Addington, and Woliver, despite not “displaying any intractable behavior” or receiving any medical treatment for his injuries, which included “open” stab wounds on his abdomen, bloody knees, and a lip laceration. Nurse Kelly came to assess the five-point restraints and any injuries, but provided Harvey no medical treatment, despite seeing that he was bleeding. Harvey alleges that Nurse Kelly told him to put soap and water on his actively bleeding knees even though she knew that it would be impossible for him to do while he was in five-point restraints. Harvey alleges that he remained in five-point restraints for a total of 22 hours while suffering in pain and bleeding.

         Approximately 6 hours into his time in the restraints, Harvey was let up for a bathroom and dinner break by Sgt. Collins. However, Sgt. Collins gave Harvey an empty dinner bag and when Harvey told him, Sgt. Collins threw the empty bag out of the cell. Harvey was not provided dinner. Thereafter, without displaying “any intractable behavior to warrant their action, ” Harvey was placed back into five-point restraints by Sgt. Collins, Lt. Franklin, Gibson, and Addington. Nurse Kelly returned to assess the restraints again, but she ignored Harvey's complaints that he was in pain and bleeding and she provided him no medical treatment.

         Harvey remained in five-point restraints for approximately 6 more hours until Sgt. Miller let him up for a second bathroom break. Even though Harvey did not display “any intractable behavior, ” Sgt. Miller “sadistically” strapped him back down in the five-point restraints. Nurse Wood came to assess the restraints. Harvey states that she noticed the “extreme swelling and blood on [his] badly abraded knees and legs” and told Harvey that on his next break, she would clean and dress the wounds. Harvey was released from the restraints approximately 9 hours later, without any additional breaks.

         Harvey alleges that “at no time” did he “give these prison officials justification” for placing or keeping him in the five-point restraints. He states that he “never became disruptive” and “never displayed any intractable behavior.” Harvey alleges that during the nearly 22 hours that he spent in five-point restraints, he was left wearing only a pair of boxers, not given a blanket, not given any food, and only given two bathroom breaks. Upon his release from the restraints, Harvey alleges that he was unable to stand or walk on his own.

         Harvey also alleges that when he was transferred to a segregation cell on March 18, 2015, Officers Dockery and McCowan inventoried and packed his personal property for the transfer. When Harvey received his property on April 1, 2015, he noticed that many items were missing, including: court transcripts; “evidence photos”; legal, religious, and educational books; his glasses, hat, and headphones; and photographs and the obituary of his mother. Harvey notified staff that his property was missing. Harvey alleges that Dockery and McCowan “deliberately destroyed or discarded” his personal property.

         In their motions for summary judgment, defendants argue that Harvey failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing this action. In response to the motions, Harvey alleges that he filed an informal complaint on April 2, 2015, concerning his placement and continued confinement in the five-point restraints. Harvey alleges that he did not receive a receipt for filing the informal complaint. He does, however, provide a “certificate of service” that indicates that he submitted the informal complaint. The “certificate of service” summarizes the allegations of the informal complaint as follows: On March 18, 2015, at ap[p]rox[imately] 10:00 am I was strapped down in B3 Cell #05 in/on 5 point restraints and wasn't let up to be released until the next following day ap[p]rox[imately] 24 hours later.”[1] Harvey alleges that when he did not receive a response to his informal complaint, he filed a regular grievance concerning the same issue on April 14, 2015. Harvey also did not receive a receipt for the grievance, but provides a “certificate of service” that indicates that he submitted it as he alleges. When he received no response to the grievance, Harvey alleges that he filed an appeal on May 20, 2015. He also did not receive a receipt for the appeal, but again provides a “certificate of service” that indicates he appealed as he alleges.

         Harvey also alleges that he filed an informal complaint on April 22, 2015 regarding his missing personal property. After receiving no response, he filed a regular grievance concerning the property on May 4, 2015. The grievance was rejected at intake and was returned to him indicating that he needed to resubmit it with the inventory sheet and informal complaint. Harvey alleges that he resubmitted the grievance with the required documents on the next business day and it was rejected as untimely filed. Harvey alleges that he subsequently filed additional grievances and appeals concerning his property, to no avail.

         Harvey does not allege that he filed an informal complaint, regular grievance, and appeal concerning his allegations of excessive force, bystander liability, denial of medical treatment, or placement in ambulatory restraints.

         II.

         Harvey alleges that defendants Dockery and McCowan intentionally destroyed his personal property. The intentional or negligent deprivation of personal property by a prison employee acting outside the scope of official policy or custom does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation if the state provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 545 (1981). Under the Virginia Tort Claims Act, Virginia has waived sovereign immunity for damages for “negligent or wrongful” acts of state employees acting within the scope of employment. Va. Code § 8.01-195.3. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that the Virginia Tort Claims Act and Virginia tort law provide adequate post-deprivation remedies for torts committed by state employees. See, e.g., Wadhams v. Procunier, 772 F.2d 75, 77-78 (4th Cir. 1985). Because the availability of a tort action ...


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