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Jones v. Stidham

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

March 22, 2018

DEMOND L. JONES, Plaintiff,
DANIEL STIDHAM, et al., Defendants.


          Jackson Li Kiser Senior United States District Judge.

         Demond L. Jones, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names as defendants Leslie J. Fleming, who is the Warden of Wallens Ridge State Prison ("WRSP"), and two correctional officers ("C/Os"). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, to which 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.



         On the morning of November 27, 2015, C/O Stidham searched Plaintiffs cell and discarded legal papers. When Plaintiff protested, C/O Stidham responded: "Write that up, " and "This is just the beginning." A few hours later, defendant C/O Crusenberry and another officer escorted Plaintiff back to his cell after a shower. Plaintiff complied with standard procedure and kneeled down inside his cell to have his leg restraints removed. Defendant C/O Crusenberry followed him into the cell, stood in a position that blocked the surveillance camera's view, and choked Plaintiff.

         After C/O Crusenberry's attack, Plaintiff informed C/O Crusenberry that he would be filing an informal complaint. When Plaintiff placed his hands in the tray slot to have the handcuffs removed, C/O Crusenberry taunted Plaintiff, stating that Plaintiff would "not be able to write anything with a broken [wrist]." C/O Crusenberry aggressively pulled the handcuff tether, forcing Plaintiffs arms out of the tray slot and causing Plaintiffs wrist to swell and lacerating his left forearm.

         Furthermore, C/Os Stidham and Crusenberry improperly denied Plaintiff ten meals between November 27, 2015 and December 2, 2015. Specifically, C/O Stidham personally denied Plaintiff two meals: lunch on November 27 and breakfast on December 2; and C/O Crusenberry personally denied Plaintiff "meals" on November 28 and lunch on December 2. C/Os Stidham and Crusenberry also instructed other A-Break[1] officers to withhold meals on November 28 and 29. Meanwhile, B-Break staff fed Plaintiff on November 30 and December 1.


         The Defendants offer a different version of events. C/O Stidham did not search Plaintiffs cell on the morning of November 27, 2015, and if he did, he did not discard any legal materials. Later that day, as C/O Crusenberry escorted Plaintiff back to his cell, Plaintiff became verbally disruptive. C/O Crusenberry asked Plaintiff why he was upset, since C/O Crusenberry had just started his shift. Plaintiff responded with a further threat. When they arrived at Plaintiffs cell, Plaintiff kneeled to have his leg irons removed. C/O Crusenberry closed the cell door, removed the leg restraints, and ordered Plaintiff to stand up and place his hands out of the tray slot so that his handcuffs could be removed. Plaintiff refused to comply and attempted to run to the back of his cell, stating, "I told you motherfuckers you are going to have to come in and get them and when you do, I'm fucking one of you all up." C/O Crusenberry maintained control of the handcuff tether and pulled Plaintiff back toward the tray slot. Plaintiff attempted to sit down, but the C/O Crusenberry and a fellow officer grabbed Plaintiffs wrists to restrain him. After securing Plaintiffs hands out of the tray slot, C/O Crusenberry managed to remove the handcuffs. C/O Crusenberry received an abrasion to his left forearm, and Plaintiff sustained an abrasion (six centimeters by two centimeters) and a cut (.5 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters by .5 centimeters) to his left forearm. C/O Crusenberry got immediate medical treatment for Plaintiff from a nurse who was already in the area. Black-and-white medical photos show an abrasion on C/O Crusenberry's arm and abrasions, a cut, and bleeding on Plaintiffs left forearm.

         On November 27 and December 2, C/O Stidham distributed meals in Plaintiffs cell block. On both days, Plaintiff purposefully refused to back away from the tray slot. Per policy, C/O Stidham wrote Plaintiff disciplinary charges for refusing to obey an order, and he did not give Plaintiff a meal. The Defendants assert that neither C/O Stidham nor C/O Crusenberry denied Plaintiff any other meals from November 27 to December 2, 2015, but acknowledge that another officer denied Plaintiff a meal on the morning of November 28, 2015, when Plaintiff once again refused to back away from the tray slot.


         Plaintiff presents five claims:[2]

1. C/O Stidham retaliated by searching Plaintiffs cell, removing and destroying Plaintiffs legal materials, and threatening Plaintiff on November 27, 2015;
2. C/Os Stidham and Crusenberry retaliated by denying Plaintiff meals;
3. C/Os Stidham and Crusenberry were deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious bodily harm by denying Plaintiff meals;
4. C/O Crusenberry used excessive force while removing Plaintiffs handcuffs on November 27, 2015; and,
5. Warden Fleming was deliberately indifferent to the misconduct of C/Os Stidham and Crusenberry because Warden Fleming failed to schedule a meeting with Plaintiff and failed to intervene after Plaintiff complained about the officers' misconduct.



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