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Jordan v. Large

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

March 5, 2018

JASON R. JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
T. LARGE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH K. DILLON, ELIZABETH K. DILLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Jason R. Jordan, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging claims against Defendant Sergeant T. Large for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights and retaliation while Jordan was incarcerated at the Red Onion State Prison. (Dkt. No. 1) Sgt. Large filed a motion for summary judgment, (Dkt. No. 17), to which Jordan responded, and this matter is ripe for disposition. Upon review of the record, the court concludes that Sgt. Large's motion for summary judgment is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The parties describe a distinctly and materially different series of events on July 15, 2016. Jordan alleges in his verified complaint that on July 15, 2016, he was placed in the shower while Sgt. Large searched his cell for contraband. After the cell search, Sgt. Large told Jordan that he found Jordan's radio and headphones, which Lieutenant Day “authorize[d]” him to intentionally break “because” Jordan had filed a prison grievance and lawsuit. Jordan and Sgt. Large had a heated exchange regarding the damage to his personal property which resulted in Jordan receiving a disciplinary charge for threatening bodily harm. Following the altercation, Sgt. Large and two other correctional officers escorted Jordan in full restraints from the D-6 pod to the D-3 pod. The two correctional officers walked by Jordan's side while Sgt. Large followed immediately behind with a handheld camera to video the transport. As the group exited the D-6 pod into the prison yard en route to the D-3 pod, Jordan went out of view of all camera surveillance, at which time Sgt. Large “aggressively” kicked Jordan from behind, between the legs, causing serious pain to his testicles. Jordan claims that he did not display any physical or aggressive behavior to cause Sgt. Large to kick him. Rather, Jordan contends that Sgt. Large kicked him because Jordan had filed a grievance and lawsuit against prison officials. (Compl. at 3, Dkt. No. 1)

         Jordan was then placed in the D-3 segregation housing unit, where he states he repeatedly asked for, but was denied, medical treatment. On July 16, 2016, Jordan spoke with a nurse during pill call about his injury because he had blood in his urine. Later that day, another nurse examined him briefly and advised him to file a sick call request form for further medical examination. The request was processed, and another nurse examined Jordan on July 20, 2016, during which examination Jordan alleges that the nurse “clearly” observed and “verified” the injury to Jordan's testicles which were swollen and had dried blood and pus. The nurse then requested that Jordan receive treatment from a doctor, including x-rays and medication for his pain. (Compl. at 4, Dkt. No. 1)

         In his motion for summary judgment, Sgt. Large describes a different series of events on July 15, 2016. Sgt. Large contends that, at approximately 1:40 pm, Jordan was placed in the D-6 shower while correctional officers searched his cell for contraband. When Sgt. Large found and confiscated Jordan's radio, Jordan yelled from the shower for staff to talk to him. Sgt. Large recalls that when he went to the shower area, Jordan was agitated and stated, “You bitches don't remember me from C building. I go hard and you are about to get some.” Due to this statement, Sgt. Large placed an institutional disciplinary charge against Jordan for threatening bodily harm. (Large Aff. ¶ 5 & Encl. A)

         The pendency of the disciplinary charge and the perceived threat towards prison staff required that correctional officers transport Jordan from D-6 to the D-3 pre-detention housing unit in full restraints. During the transport, two officers walked on either side of Jordan while Sgt. Large, as a supervisor, followed several feet behind them. Sgt. Large states he “never touched, kicked, or otherwise placed his hands on Jordan” and claims that video footage from the D-3 and D-6 security cameras corroborates his account of events, including that he never had a handheld video camera and that the group remained in video surveillance at all times. (Large Aff. ¶¶ 6, 8) Sgt. Large alleges that the video footage shows “Jordan's gait remained normal and unaffected throughout the entire escort.” (Mot. Summ. J. at 4, Dkt. No. 18) Sgt. Large contends that Jordan never asked to see a nurse, did not file an emergency grievance, and did not seek medical attention for any testicular injury during pill pass that day or at any time before July 20, 2016. (Large Aff. ¶ 9) The initial physical examination on July 20, when Jordan first complained of having been kicked, did not reveal any testicular injuries. (See Phipps Aff. ¶ 11)

         Sgt. Large argues that Jordan's excessive force claim is meritless because it is directly contradicted by the surveillance video footage and that Sgt. Large is nonetheless entitled to qualified immunity.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that a court 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.” “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). The dispute over a material fact must be genuine, “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.; see also JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001). As such, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the evidence supporting a genuine issue of material fact “is merely colorable or is not significantly probative[.]” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         The moving party bears the burden of proving that judgment on the pleadings is appropriate. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, then the nonmoving party must set forth specific, admissible facts to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the record as a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-324; Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994). However, the nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment.[1] Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The evidence set forth must meet the “substantive evidentiary standard of proof that would apply at a trial on the merits.” Mitchell v. Data Gen. Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1315-16 (4th Cir. 1993).

         B. Excessive Force

         The parties could not more sharply dispute the facts as to what occurred. Jordan alleges that Sgt. Large kicked his testicles from behind while he was being transported in full restraints, despite not displaying any physical or aggressive behavior. Alternatively, Sgt. Large contends that the surveillance video confirms that he never touched or kicked Jordan. The court finds that genuine disputes ...


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