United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
DEMOND L. JONES, Plaintiff,
LESLIE FLEMING, et al., Defendants.
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge
L. Jones, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two
defendants: Leslie Fleming, who is the Warden of Wallens
Ridge State Prison ("WRSP"), and Correctional
Officer ("C/O") Brandon Woodard. Plaintiff alleges
that C/O Woodard used excessive force in violation of the
Eighth Amendment and that Warden Fleming failed to intervene.
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff
responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After
reviewing the record, I grant in part and deny in part the
motion for summary judgment.
Woodard escorted Plaintiff to his cell on October 30, 2015,
after Plaintiff chastised C/O Woodard for talking about
another inmate. When they arrived at the cell door, C/O
Woodard told Plaintiff to enter the cell and kneel down, and
Plaintiff complied. Per normal procedure, Plaintiff next put
his cuffed hands through the tray slot for the handcuffs to
be removed. Although his hands were already in the tray slot,
C/O Woodard aggressively and unnecessarily pulled the
handcuff tether, causing Jones immense pain. C/O Woodard then
announced, "Put your hands on the tray slot, " to
cover up his pulling of the tether. After a minute or two,
Plaintiff cried out in pain because his hands had been
rubbing against a sharp steel edge inside the slot. Plaintiff
asked C/O Woodard to stop inflicting pain. Nevertheless, C/0
Woodard continued to pull at the tether for two more minutes,
and Plaintiff experienced continued pain as the steel edge
cut into Plaintiffs arm. C/O Woodard then stopped, removed
the handcuffs, and told Plaintiff that he should mind his
business and not chastise officers. Besides experiencing
immense pain, Plaintiffs hands, wrists, and arms were swollen
and bloody, and he could not move his right wrist. A nurse
later diagnosed a high wrist sprain.
dispute Plaintiffs allegations, explaining that the escort
was unremarkable. Once Plaintiff was inside the cell, C/O
Woodard told Plaintiff to put his cuffed hands on the tray
slot, but Plaintiff refused. C/O Woodard repeated the order,
Plaintiff complied, and C/O Woodard removed the restraints
without the use of force. Shortly after, Plaintiff complained
that his arms had been injured during the handcuff removal.
An officer checked Plaintiffs arms for injury and found none
but called for a nurse, anyway. The nurse noted that
Plaintiffs arms had abrasions, but no bleeding or other red
areas. The responding officer reported on his internal
incident report that Plaintiff appeared to have scratched his
forearms between the officer's first visit and the
filed a Level I Grievance about C/O Woodard's actions.
After investigation of rapid-eye video, staff incident
reports, and medical records, Plaintiffs claims were
considered to be unfounded. On appeal, Warden Fleming upheld
the unfounded decision of the Level I Grievance Response.
presents two claims. First, C/O Woodard violated the Eighth
Amendment by maliciously and sadistically inflicting pain.
Second, Warden Fleming is liable for "encouraging"
Woodard's constitutional violation. Defendants have filed
a motion for summary judgment, supported by affidavits from
C/O Woodard and Warden Fleming.
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). In order
to preclude summary judgment, the dispute about a material.
fact must be "'genuine, ' that is, if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. However,
if the evidence of a genuine issue of material fact "is
merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted." Id., at 250. In considering a
motion for summary judgment, a court must view the record as
a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett. 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986); Shaw
v. Stroud. 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994).
must grant a motion for summary judgment if, after adequate
time for discovery, the nonmoving party fails to make a
showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. The nonmoving party cannot
defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment with
mere conjecture and speculation. Glover v. Oppleman,
178 F.Supp.2d 622, 631 (W.D. Va. 2001). The trial judge has
an "affirmative obligation" to "prevent
'factually unsupported claims and defenses' from
proceeding to trial." Id. (quoting
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 317).
doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials
'from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.'" Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223,
231 (2009) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald. 457 U.S.
800, 818 (1982)). When a defendant asserts the affirmative
defense of qualified immunity, the court must determine
"whether the facts that a plaintiff has alleged ... make
out a violation of a constitutional right[, ]" and
"whether the right at issue was 'clearly
established' at the time of defendant's alleged
misconduct." Id. at 232 (citing Saucier v.
Katz,533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)). In determining whether
the law was clearly established, the court
'"ordinarily need not look beyond the decisions of
the Supreme Court, [the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals], and
the highest court of the state in which the case
arose.'" Lefemine v. Wideman, 672 F.3d 292,
298 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro. 178 F.3d 231, 251 (1999)), v ...