United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge
Eugene Bowles, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, commenced
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
12132, naming Correctional Sergeant Jackson as the sole
defendant. Plaintiff complains about the way Sgt. Jackson
purportedly treated Plaintiff for wanting to use a wheelchair
while eating meals. Sgt. Jackson filed a motion for summary
judgment, to which Plaintiff responded, making this matter
ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I grant
Sgt. Jackson's motion for summary judgment.
October 8, 2015, Plaintiff arrived at River North
Correctional Center ("RNCC") with the wheelchair
assigned to him from a prior correctional facility. According
to his medical record, Plaintiff is not permanently disabled
or wheelchair bound and is able to stand and walk short
distances without assistance other than a cane. Nonetheless,
Plaintiff was allowed to use a wheelchair at RNCC to travel
longer distances on the compound such as from the housing
unit to the dining hall. Because he was allowed a wheelchair,
policy allowed that Plaintiff be assisted by an inmate
caregiver who would push the wheel chair and retrieve meal
trays from the serving line.
inmate in the RNCC dining hall with a wheelchair has several
places to sit during meal times. He can move to one of eight
wheelchair seating areas; move next to a regular table seat
and swap seats; or park the wheelchair outside the dining
hall and walk the short distance to a regular dining table.
If no seating area is available in the assigned dining hall,
the inmate may use the neighboring dining hall.
occasion, the wheelchair seating areas were full when
Plaintiff arrived at the dining hall in his wheelchair.
Another inmate behind Plaintiff had a permanent disability
that prevented him from walking. Consequently, Sgt. Jackson
asked Plaintiff to sit at a regular table to prioritize the
permanently disabled inmate's access to a wheelchair
table. Sgt. Jackson avers that Plaintiff became angry, asked
to speak to a Lieutenant, ate his meal while sitting on a
regular seat, and left the dining hall. Sgt. Jackson avers he
did not instruct Plaintiff to leave the dining hall.
claims that Sgt. Jackson harassed him on a second occasion
because there were too many wheelchairs in the dining hall.
Sgt. Jackson avers that Bowles became angry and left the
dining hall on his own accord and was not ordered to leave.
Jackson filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing,
inter alia, the defense of qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity permits "government officials
performing discretionary functions ... [to be] shielded 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."
Harlow v. Fitzgerald. 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Once
a defendant raises the qualified immunity defense, a
plaintiff bears the burden to show that a defendant's
conduct violated the plaintiffs right. Bryant v.
Muth. 994 F.2d 1082, 1086 (4th Cir. 1993).
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 motion."
Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio,
Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995). A plaintiff cannot
use a response to a motion for summary judgment to amend or
correct a complaint challenged by the motion for summary
judgment. Cloaninger v. McDevitt. 555 F.3d 324, 336
(4th Cir. 2009).
allegations most closely align with a claim under the Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendments. However, none of the allegations
establish a violation of federal law, and thus, Sgt. Jackson
is entitled to qualified immunity and summary judgment.
order to establish cruel and unusual living conditions
prohibited by the Eight Amendment, prisoner must prove that
"the deprivation of [a] basic human need was objectively
sufficiently serious," and that "subjectively the
officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of
mind." Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1379
(4th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted). Only
extreme deprivations are adequate to satisfy the objective
component of an Eighth Amendment claim regarding conditions
of confinement. See, e.g., Hudson v. McMillian, 503
U.S. 1, 8-9 (1992). In order to demonstrate such an extreme
deprivation, a prisoner must allege a serious or significant
physical or emotional injury resulting from the challenged
conditions or demonstrate a substantial risk of such serious
harm resulting from the prisoner's exposure to the
challenged conditions. Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S.
25, 31 (1993); Strickler, 989F.2datl381.
succeed on an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must first
demonstrate that he has been treated differently from others
with whom he is similarly situated and that the unequal
treatment was the result of intentional or purposeful
discrimination." Morrison v. Garraghty, 239
F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 2001). "Once this showing is
made, the court proceeds to determine whether the ...