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Alexander v. Parks

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

January 28, 2019

ANTONARI WILLIAM ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
BOYD PARKS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Antonari Alexander, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] The matter before the court is the motion for summary judgment filed by the non-medical defendants[2] (collectively “Defendants”). I will grant in part and deny in part the motion for the reasons that follow.

         I. Background

         On April 15, 2017, Alexander assaulted Corrections Officer (“C/O”) Maloney in A-6 pod at Red Onion State Prison because Alexander did not agree with the timing of his recreation and shower breaks. See Maloney Aff. ¶ 3-4, Dkt. No. 45-6; Maloney Assault Video, [3] at 4:45-4:55. While retreating from Alexander's punches, Maloney accidentally dropped his handcuffs and Alexander picked them up. Maloney Assault Video, at 4:54. Maloney ordered Alexander to stop, drop the handcuffs, and get on the floor. Alexander refused to comply and ran back to his cell. Maloney Aff. ¶ 4; Maloney Assault Video, at 4:56. Maloney chased Alexander and fired at least one burst of OC spray in Alexander's direction. Maloney Aff. ¶ 4; Maloney Assault Video, at 4:57. When Maloney arrived in front of the open cell-door, he stood on the catwalk and held the oleoresin capsicum (“OC”) spray canister toward the inside of the cell. Maloney Assault Video, at 5:01. Moments later, the cell door was secured with Alexander in his cell, Maloney stepped away, and backup officers arrived. Id. at 5:12. Responding officers included: Defendants Warden Kiser, Adams, Gibson, Messer, Mullins, Bryant, Parks, and Phipps. Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 4, Dkt. No. 45; Maloney Assault Video, at 5:16-6:15.

         C/O Gibson is a K-9 Officer. Upon arrival at A-6 pod, Gibson and his canine, “Evil, ” stood on the catwalk directly outside Alexander's cell. Maloney Assault Video, at 5:50-6:50. C/Os Phipps and Mullins ordered Alexander to lay on the ground in his cell. Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 5, Dkt. No. 45. When Alexander complied, the cell door was opened, Alexander crawled out, and Phipps and Mullins restrained Alexander. Id.; Maloney Assault Video, at 6:18. Gibson and Evil backed up and stood near Alexander until Phipps and Mullins took Alexander away. Maloney Assault Video, at 10:11:55-10:12:52. After officers restrained Alexander, Sgt. Hill escorted Maloney to the medical department. Maloney Aff. ¶ 4; Maloney Assault Video, at 7:20-7:40. Neither Gibson nor Evil physically touched Alexander.

         Warden Kiser also responded to the call for assistance. Kiser Aff. ¶ 4, Dkt. No. 45-5. Alexander alleges that Warden Kiser failed to intervene when his officers violated his rights and told his officers to “fuck [Alexander] up on the way to B-Building and teach him a lesson.” Compl. 12. Warden Kiser disputes Alexander's account, stating that he had no participation in the restraint process or escort, he did not see anyone choke Alexander, and he did not tell his officers to “fuck him up.” Kiser Aff. ¶¶ 4-5. After Alexander had been restrained in the A-6 pod, Warden Kiser went to the medical department to check on Maloney. Id. at ¶ 4.

         C/Os Phipps, Mullins, and Parks then began escorting Alexander from A-Building to a segregation cell in B-Building, while Lt. Messer supervised. Maloney Assault Video, at 10:15:24-37; A-Building Vestibule Video, [4] 10:15:45; A-Building Entrance & Vestibule REM Video, [5] at 0:18-0:25. Defendants allege that Alexander refused their offer to take Alexander to shower off any residual OC spray; meanwhile, Alexander asserts that Defendants refused to take him a shower.[6] Messer Aff. ¶ 5, Dkt. No. 45-7; Compl. 10.

         While on the boulevard between A-Building and B-Building, Defendants allege that they placed Alexander on the ground to regain control after Alexander attempted to pull away. Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 5. Defendants assert that Alexander refused orders to cease being disruptive and kicked Parks twice in the abdominal area. Id. at 6. Messer then assisted Parks in controlling Alexander's legs, while C/O Gentry, who had joined the other officers during the disturbance, applied leg restraints. Messer Aff. ¶ 5; Front Walkway Video, [7] at 10:14:34. The officers lifted Alexander to his feet and brought him to cell 407 in B-Building without further incident. Front Walkway Video, at 2:50-3:20; B-Building Entrance Video, [8] at 0:24-043; Rear B-400 Video, [9] at 0:50-1:20.

         Phipps, Mullins, and Parks forced Alexander to the floor in front of the cell. Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 6; Rear B-400 Video, at 3:58-4:00; First Handheld Video April 15, [10]at 1:00-1:30. While officers held him down, Alexander became combative[11] and Defendants allege that he attempted to break away. Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 6; Rear B-400 Video, at 3:58-4:00. While waiting for the nurse, Adams, Phipps, and Parks held Alexander as Messer and Sgt. Bryant applied ambulatory restraints. Rear B-400 Video, at 10:18:55-10:26:35.

         When Nurse Stump arrived, she evaluated Alexander, checking the tightness of his restraints, his vital signs, and his injuries. First, Nurse Stump was able to place two fingers under Alexander's wrist and ankle restraints. Second Handheld Video April 15, [12] at 16:32. Second, although Alexander told Stump that he had been slammed twice and that he was bleeding everywhere, Nurse Stump determined that Alexander had abrasions and redness that resembled rug burn, but did not observe any active bleeding. Id. at 9:30-10:00; 19:50-20:20.

         The following morning, officers removed the ambulatory restraints. Stump asked Alexander if he required medical attention, and Alexander responded affirmatively, complaining about his hand. Handheld Video April 16, [13] at 1:45-1:55. Stump observed that the hand appeared swollen and advised Alexander to keep the hand elevated as much as possible until he could be seen by a doctor. Id. at 4:45. Stump inquired if Alexander had any other issues, and Alexander responded that he did not. Id. at 5:30. Stump gave Alexander some Tylenol and placed him on the schedule to be seen by the institutional physician. Id. at 6:04; Stump Aff. ¶ 16, Dkt. No. 44-1.

         Alexander did not complain on April 16, 2017 about any injuries related to OC spray, his restraints being too tight, the skin being ripped from his legs, face, torso, or arms, swelling of his eye socket, a knot on his head, his testicles, or his fingers. An x-ray of Alexander's right hand on June 2, 2017 showed no evidence of acute fracture, dislocation, or osseous lesion. Patient Reports (June 2, 2017), Dkt. No. 45-2.

         Lastly, in his response to the motions for summary judgment, Alexander asserts that the videotapes were tampered with and that officers intimidated Nurse Stump into lying. Nurse Stump denies both allegations.

         II. Claims

         Alexander alleges the following claims:[14]

1. Maloney used excessive force against Alexander when he spit in Alexander's face, threatened Alexander, and sprayed OC spray on Alexander and Alexander's cellmate when neither inmate was a threat.
2. Gibson used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he kicked and assaulted Alexander after Alexander had been fully restrained in handcuffs and leg shackles. Gibson caused Alexander pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
3. Mullins used excessive force when he choked, kicked, punched, slammed, scratched, elbowed, and kneed Alexander in the groin after Alexander was fully restrained in handcuffs and leg restraints. Mullins caused Alexander pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
4. Phipps used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he punched, kneed, stomped, and slammed Alexander after Alexander had been fully restrained in handcuffs and leg restraints. Phipps caused pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
5. Messer used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he punched, kicked, slammed, and assaulted Alexander and encouraged Gibson, Mullins, Parks, and Phipps to use excessive force against Alexander after Alexander had been fully restrained by handcuffs and leg restraints. Messer caused pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
6. Parks used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he punched, slammed, kicked, kneed, elbowed, choked, scratched, and headbutted Alexander in the groin after Alexander was already fully restrained by handcuffs and leg restraints. Parks caused serious pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
7. Adams used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he punched, slammed, kicked, and stomped Alexander, and encouraged Parks, Gibson, Phipps, Mullins, and Messer to use excessive force against Alexander after Alexander had been fully restrained.
8. Unit Manager (“Mgr.”) Younce was deliberately indifferent to, failed to correct, and/or encouraged the unconstitutional conduct of Maloney, Gibson, Parks, Phipps, Mullins, Messer, and Adams. Mgr. Younce caused Alexander pain, suffering, physical injury, and serious emotional distress.
9. Warden Kiser was deliberately indifferent to the unconstitutional conduct of his employees because he had knowledge of the officers' actions against Alexander and encouraged continued misconduct after April 15, 2017.
10. Mgr. Younce and Sgt. Bryant were deliberately indifferent when they refused to retrieve Alexander's personal property or allow him to shower in a timely manner.
11. Mgr. Younce was deliberately indifferent when he refused Alexander outside recreation for forty-five days.
12. Mgr. Younce, Adams, and Messer were deliberately indifferent when they failed to take pictures of Alexander's bodily injuries after the April 15, 2017 incident. Their failure caused Alexander serious pain, suffering, physical injury, and emotional distress.
13. Gibson, Mullins, Parks, Phipps, Messer, and Adams were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they told Nurse Stump not to treat Alexander.
14. John Doe used excessive force and retaliated against Alexander when he squeezed Alexander's testicles until Alexander “could no longer be aware of his surroundings” after Alexander was fully restrained. Compl. 9.

         For relief, Alexander seeks a declaration that Defendants' conduct was unconstitutional, court costs, damages, the overturning of institutional disciplinary convictions, good time credit restoration, transfer out of the Western District of Virginia permanently to Maryland, Boston, Carolina, or Washington, D.C., a written apology from all defendants, and to have his medical fees and infraction fines paid for.

         III. Standards of Review

         A. Summary Judgment

         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. 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. Pro Se Pleadings

         Alexander is proceeding pro se and, thus, entitled to a liberal construction of the pleading. See, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 90-95 (2007). However, “principles requiring generous construction of pro se complaints are not . . . without limits.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). The Fourth Circuit has explained that “though pro se litigants cannot, of course, be expected to frame legal issues with the clarity and precision ideally evident in the work of those trained in law, neither can district courts be required to conjure up and decide issues never fairly presented to them.” Id. at 1276. “A court considering a motion [for summary judgment] can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         C. ...


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