United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser, Senior United States District Judge.
Fleming, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
12132. Plaintiff names as defendants the Virginia Department
of Corrections ("VDOC"), five staff of the VDOC
(the "VDOC defendants"), and two
nurses (the "medical defendants") at
River North Correctional Center ("RNCC"). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants were negligent and deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical needs and discriminated
against him on account of a disability, in violation of the
Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and Virginia law. All but
one defendant filed motions for summary judgment, to which
Plaintiff responded, making the motions ripe for
disposition. After reviewing the record, I grant in
part and deny in part Defendants' motions for summary
judgment, and several claims remain against Nurse Parks and
Correctional Officers ("C/O") Lundy and Dean.
is not able to support his body weight and allegedly is
unable to walk unassisted because of a "slipped
spine" and pinched nerve. Plaintiff is able to stand
with assistance albeit with "extreme pain, " and he
cannot maintain his balance unless he has assistance or
something to . grab. Consequently, Plaintiff considers
himself confined to a wheelchair.
arrived at RNCC in a wheelchair on November 16, 2015. Nobody
specifically explained to Plaintiff upon his arrival that
metal detectors were used there and that inmates must walk
through them. Plaintiff also was not specifically advised
that he could seek a medical waiver of that requirement.
the intake process, defendant Nurse Parks met Plaintiff, who
said that he could ambulate short distances with a cane.
Nurse Parks told him that he could opt for either a
wheelchair or a cane for assistance moving, and Plaintiff
opted for a wheelchair. Plaintiff never asked for a medical
waiver about the metal detectors.
November 28, 2015, C/O Lundy ordered Plaintiff to pass
through the metal detector before he could continue in his
wheelchair to the chow hall. Plaintiff objected, explaining
that he had a spinal injury, he could not walk without
assistance, and feels pain when walking with assistance. C/O
Lundy replied that Plaintiff would not be allowed to exit the
building for any reason unless he first walked through the
metal detector. Inmate Bolen, who was assigned to help move
Plaintiff in the wheelchair, moved the wheelchair to the exit
side of the metal detector while Plaintiff held onto the
upright edge of the metal detector. With Bolen's help,
Plaintiff stumbled, shook, and grunted in pain as he shuffled
through the metal detector and back into the wheelchair.
November 29, 2015, C/O Lundy again ordered Plaintiff to pass
through the metal detector before going to the chow hall.
Plaintiff again attempted to hold onto the side of the
detector while Bolen moved the wheelchair, but Plaintiff fell
to the floor once his legs gave out. Plaintiffs right knee
struck the floor and became bruised, swollen, inflamed, and
immediately told C/O Lundy that he needed to go to the
medical department because of pain in his knee and lower
back. C/O Lundy refused to contact the medical department and
told Plaintiff to continue to the dining hall. Upon returning
from the dining hall, Plaintiff again asked C/O Lundy for
medical assistance because the pain had worsened, but C/O
Lundy refused and told Plaintiff to return to his cell.
an hour after returning to his cell, Plaintiff told a nurse
doing "rounds" in the pod that he needed medical
attention. The nurse told Plaintiff to file an emergency
grievance so medical staff could call him to the medical
around lunch on November 29, 2015, Plaintiff allegedly gave
defendant C/O Dean an emergency grievance seeking medical
care for his pain. Per policy, the receiving officer should
pass the emergency grievance to appropriate staff who should
answer it within eight hours.
dinner time that same day, Plaintiff asked a nurse whether
the medical department had received the emergency grievance,
and the nurse said no. The nurse examined Plaintiffs knee and
noted it was slightly swollen but was without a bruise or
abrasion. The nurse also noted that Plaintiff was able to
stand with assistance. Per Plaintiffs request, the nurse
noted that the doctor should review Plaintiffs eligibility
for a waiver for the metal detectors. The swelling was
reduced with icing.
had a brief appointment four days later on December 3, 2015.
Defendant Nurse Crawford measured Plaintiffs vital signs, the
doctor issued the waiver, and Nurse Crawford noted the waiver
on Plaintiffs medical record.
faults C/O Lundy for making him walk through the metal
detectors and faults C/O Dean for not processing the
emergency grievance. Plaintiff faults Clarke, who is the
Director of the VDOC; Walrath, who is the Warden of RNCC; and
McBride, who is a Unit Manager at RNCC, for promulgating
policies requiring Plaintiff to travel through a metal
detector. Plaintiff further faults Walrath and McBride for
not advising Plaintiff to seek a waiver to bypass the metal
detectors. Plaintiff complains that each defendant was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need and
committed willful, wanton, simple, reckless and gross
negligence. Plaintiff also complains that each defendant
violated the ADA. For example, C/O Lundy is liable under the
ADA because he purportedly "conditioned [the] ability to
use the dining hall and to eat meals based upon ... clearing
the metal detector, which [Plaintiff] was unable to do
because of [his] disability."
seeks damages and an injunction. Plaintiff alleges that, for
several months after the fall, he needed medication to reduce
knee pain. Plaintiff also alleges he experienced emotional
trauma from fearing if the fall aggravated his spinal injury.
He seeks an order requiring every warden and head nurse to
meet with him upon arrival at any VDOC facility, to exempt
him from "any security measure or other circumstance
at the institution [that] may pose a risk of substantial harm
to [him] due to his disabilities, " and either to exempt
him from that circumstance or to transfer him to an
is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings, the
disclosed materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those necessary to
establish the elements of a party's cause of action.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists if, in
viewing admissible evidence and all reasonable inferences
drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party, a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for
the non-movant. Id. The moving party has the burden
of showing - "that is, pointing out to the district
court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the movant
satisfies this burden, then the non-movant must set forth
specific facts that demonstrate the existence of a genuine
dispute of fact for trial. Id. at 322-24. A party is
entitled to summary judgment if the admissible evidence as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in
favor of the non-movant. Williams v. Griffin, 952
F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991). "Mere unsupported
speculation ... is not enough to defeat a summary judgment