United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY
E. HUDSON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Lewis, a federal inmate proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.
Lewis's claims flow from a conviction for an
institutional infraction when he was incarcerated in the
Pamunkey Regional Jail. Lewis names the following individuals
as the defendants: Sergeant J.D. Winfree; Captain S.L. Cook;
and Superintendent James C. Willett ("Defendants").
Lewis demands relief upon the following grounds:
Claim 1 Defendant Winfree placed Lewis in a strip cell on
October 26, 2015 for allegedly breaking a sprinkler in his
cell. (ECF No. 2, at 3.) In the strip cell, Lewis was left
"'naked', without a bed mattress, and no
adequate drinking water, including [Lewis] not [being] able
to shower for approximately 8-days." (Id.
(citation omitted).) Such actions violated Lewis's rights
under (a) the Eighth Amendment, (id), and (b) the
Due Process Clause, (id. at 4).
Claim 2 Defendant Cook discriminated under the Equal
Protection Clause against Lewis when Cook gave Lewis a 60-day
sanction for breaking the sprinkler, but ultimately reduced
Lewis's white cellmate's sanction to merely twenty
days. (ECF No. 1, at 4.)
Claim 3 (a) "Colonel James C. Willett is responsible for
authoring] the policies, procedures, rules and regulations
... which permits" an inmate to be deprived of
"clothing, bedding, unlimited access to lavatory and
showers" in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
(Id. at 4-5.) (b) These actions also violated the
Due Process Clause. (Id. at 5.).
have moved for summary judgment. Lewis has responded.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
judgment must be rendered "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."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears
the responsibility to inform the court of the basis for the
motion, and to identify the parts of the record which
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary
judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal
quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly
supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings
and, by citing affidavits or "'depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate
'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c) and 56(e) (1986)).
reviewing a summary judgment motion, the court "must
draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party." United States v. Carolina Transformer
Co., 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986)). However, a mere scintilla of evidence will not
preclude summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251
(citing Improvement Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14
Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)). "[T]here is a preliminary
question for the judge, not whether there is literally no
evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could
properly proceed to find a verdict for the party ... upon
whom the onus of proof is imposed." Id.
(quoting Munson, 81 U.S. at 448). Additionally,
"Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty
to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a
party's opposition to summary judgment." Forsyth
v. Barr, 19F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915
n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3)
("The court need consider only the cited
support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants
submitted, inter alia, the following evidence:
declarations from Captain S. Cook ("Cook Decl. I,"
ECF No. 30-1; "Cook Decl. II," ECF No. 30-5),
Superintendent Willett ("Willett Decl.," ECF No.
30-2), Sergeant Winfree ("Winfree Decl.," ECF No.
30-4), and a host of institutional records. Lewis submitted
his own declaration ("Lewis Decl." ECF No.
2-1)and swore to the contents of the Complaint.
In light of the foregoing submissions, the following facts
are established for the Motion for Summary Judgment.
Circumstances Leading to the Infraction
October 26, 2015, Lewis was confined in the Pamunkey Regional
Jail ("the Jail"). (Willett Decl. ¶¶
11-12.) Lewis shared cell F-45 with Lea Owens. (Id.
¶¶ 10, 12.) On October 26, 2015, F-Unit of the
Jail was on lockdown. (Id. ¶ 11.) "During
a lockdown, inmates are prohibited from exiting their
5:00 or 6:00 p.m., Sergeant Winfree received a call that a
sprinkler head had been broken in one of the cells in F-Unit.
(Winfree Decl. H 6.) Sergeant Winfree responded to the call
and observed a disabled sprinkler head in Lewis's cell.
(Id.) Water was flowing from the hole in the wall
where the sprinkler head had been. (Id.) Thereafter,
Sergeant Winfree interviewed inmates Lewis and Owens.
(Id.) Both Lewis and Owens denied knowing how the
sprinkler head became broken. (Id.) Sergeant Winfree
then spoke with Officer Duke in the Jail's maintenance
department, who told Winfree "that the sprinkler heads
are firmly attached to the walls and would not become
detached unless they were tampered with." (Id.
also spoke with a technician who stated that around the time
that the sprinkler head broke, inmates throughout F-Unit
"were banging on their doors, making noise and causing a
distraction." (Id. ¶ 8.) Based on Officer
Duke's advice, Sergeant Winfree charged Lewis and Owens
with "Interfering with Security Operations" and
"Tampering with Security or Safety Equipment."
(Id. ¶ 9.) Additionally, Sergeant Winfree
assigned Lewis and Owen to the Destructive Inmate Program.
Sergeant Winfree assigned Lewis to the Destructive Inmate
Program, he "was not involved in implementing the
program, nor did [he] directly supervis[e] Lewis while he was
assigned to the program." (Id. ¶ 14.)
Destructive Inmate Program
and Owen were housed in the Special Housing Unit
("SHU"), while assigned to the Destructive Inmate
Program. (Id. ¶ 13.) The Jail uses the
Destructive Inmate Program to control inmates who damage Jail
property. (Willett Decl. 1f 8.) "The program lasts for
eight days. Assignment to the Destructive Inmate Program is
not punitive, but intended to control the inmate's
behavior and prevent additional property damage or
Inmates assigned to the Destructive Inmate Program are placed
on "strip cell" status. Inmates often use personal
items to damage jail property by, for example, clogging the
toilet with clothing or bedding. Thus, when an inmate is
assigned to strip cell status, all of his personal property
is removed from his cell, except for his boxers and
undershirt. If the inmate does not cause further property
damage, his personal items are returned to him incrementally
over the subsequent eight-day period.
(Id. ¶ 9.) Specifically, pursuant to the
Jail's policy, after two days, the inmate's mattress
would be returned if he continued to behave. (Id.
¶ 14.) After four days, the inmate's uniform
would be returned, and after six days, the inmate's
blankets would be returned. (Id.) Additionally,
inmates in the program are given an opportunity to shower
once per day. (Id.) "Every cell in the Special
Housing Unit is equipped with a toilet and sink. Therefore,
Lewis would have had continuous access to drinking water
while housed in the SHU. Restricting an inmate's access
to water is not part of the Destructive Inmate Program."
(Id. ¶ 15; accord Winfree Decl.
Reconciling Lewis's and Defendants' Version of the