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Brown v. A. Banks

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

January 31, 2017

DENNIS JAMES BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. A. BANKS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT)

          HENRY E.HUDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Dennis James Brown, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] Brown's claims flow from the alleged unconstitutional treatment Brown received from Lt. A. Banks and Dr. Inder Gujral in the aftermath of Brown's hernia surgery. Specifically, Brown contends that:

Claim 1 (a) Defendant Banks violated Brown's rights under the Eighth Amendment when, on February 10, 2015, he ordered Brown to move some heavy boxes and refused to allow anyone to assist Brown in moving the boxes. (Compl. 6-7, ECF No. 1 .)[2](b) Defendant Banks violated Brown's rights under the Eighth Amendment when he falsely charged Brown with disobeying a direct order and had Brown locked in segregation for thirty-six (36) days. (Id. at 6.)
Claim 2 Defendant Gujral failed to provide Brown with adequate medical care following Brown's injury on February 10, 2015. (Id. at 4.)

Defendant Banks has moved for summary judgment on the ground that Brown has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. (ECF No. 20.) Brown has responded. For the reasons that follow, the Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.[3]

         I. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Summary judgment must be rendered "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). It is the responsibility of the party seeking summary judgment to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify the parts of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by citing affidavits or "'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) and 56(e) (1986)).

         Defendant Banks asks the Court to dismiss Claim 1(b) because it lacks merit and to dismiss Claim 1(a) because Brown failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). As exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, Defendant Banks bears the burden of pleading and proving lack of exhaustion. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007).

         In support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant Banks submits: (1) an affidavit from A. James, the Institutional Grievance Coordinator (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 ("James Aff."), ECF No. 21-1); (2) a copy of Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") Operating Procedure § 866.1 (id. End. A. ("Operating Procedure § 866.1")); and, (3) copies of grievances material submitted by Brown (id. Ends. B-E). Brown responded to the Motion for Summary Judgment by filing his own affidavit ("Brown Affidavit, " ECF No. 29). Although there are a host of other documents in the record, "Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment." Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915 & n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)). In light of the foregoing submissions, the following facts are established for the Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court draws all permissible inferences in favor of Brown.

         II. UNDISPUTED FACTS

         A. Brown's Conviction of an Institutional Infraction

         On or about January 10, 2015, Brown underwent hernia surgery. (Brown Aff. ¶ 3.) Brown's surgeon ordered Brown not to lift anything heavy for at least six weeks (Id. (citation omitted).) On February 10, 2015, after Brown had returned to prison, Defendant Banks ordered Brown to pack up his personal possessions in some boxes and prepare to move to a different housing unit. (Id. ¶ 4.) After packing the boxes, Brown informed Banks that he was under medical orders not to move anything heavy and Brown asked for assistance in moving the boxes. (Id.) Defendant Banks refused to provide assistance and told Brown that he must move the boxes himself. (Id.) Brown repeated that he was under a medical restriction not to lift heavy items. (Id.) Defendant Banks then left Brown in his cell. (Id.)

         Shortly thereafter, a sergeant appeared at Brown's cell and informed Brown that Defendant Banks had ordered Brown assigned to administrative segregation for refusing to lift the boxes. (Id. ¶ 5.) Brown then moved his boxes. (Id.) In the process of moving his boxes, Brown felt a "snapping and pulling" in his groin area, near where the surgery had occurred. (Id. ¶ 6.)

         On February 10, 2015, Brown received a disciplinary charge filed by Defendant Banks. (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant Banks charged Banks with refusing to move to another cell. (Id.) On or about February 18, 2015, Brown was found guilty of the above charge and sentenced to serve eleven (11) days in isolation. (Id. ¶ 7.) The Warden of Sussex II State Prison, however, overturned the finding of guilty and had the matter expunged from Brown's record. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         B. ...


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