United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Terah C. Morris, Plaintiff,
Dr. Meredith Cary, ET AL.,  Defendants.
K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Terah C. Morris (“Morris”), an inmate at Red
Onion State Prison, brought this pro se action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging defendant prison officials have
been deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs,
in violation of her Eighth Amendment rights, by failing to
provide adequate medical care for gender identity disorder
(“GID”). This matter is before the Court on (1) the
parties' motions for summary judgment (Dkts. 101, 120,
123, 134, 149); (2) the Report and Recommendation of United
States Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent
(“R&R”) (Dkt. 167), to whom this matter was
referred for proposed findings of fact and a recommended
disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); and
(3) Plaintiff Morris' objections to the R&R (Dkt.
Magistrate Judge recommended that Morris' motions for
summary judgment (Dkts. 134, 149) be denied, the
Defendants' motions for summary judgment be granted
(Dkts. 101, 120, 123), and judgment entered in favor of the
Defendants. (Dkt. 167 at 54). Plaintiff Morris has filed
eight objections to the R&R. For the reasons set out
below, the Court finds Morris' objections lack merit and
will accept and adopt Judge Sargent's Report and
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that a court shall
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.” A dispute
is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “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. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. In
considering the matter, the court construes the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws
all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor.
F.D.I.C. v. Cashion, 720 F.3d 169, 173 (4th Cir.
court refers a matter to a magistrate judge, any objections
to the magistrate judge's R&R must be reviewed de
novo. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th
Cir. 1982); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In
addressing the objections, “[t]he district court does
not need to provide an elaborate or lengthy explanation, but
it must provide a specific rationale that permits meaningful
appellate review.” Cruz v. Marshall, 673
Fed.Appx. 296, 299 (4th Cir. 2016). The court “may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate judge” and it
“may also receive further evidence or recommit the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Further, the court will afford a pro
se litigant's objections and briefing a liberal
construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
of summary, Morris is an inmate incarcerated at Red Onion
State Prison, Virginia. Eight Defendants, including medical
doctors and Qualified Mental Health Professionals, remain
after the prior dismissal of several defendants. Morris
brought this action in March 2017, alleging that, with
respect to medical needs relating to her gender identity,
“defendants knew . . . about my ‘serious medical
need' and failed or otherwise [are] still failing to
respond . . . [or] provide me with any treatment or examine
me . . . violat[ing] my Eighth Amendment Constitutional
rights for the deliberate indifferen[ce] in denying me mental
health and medical care . . . .” (Dkt. 1 (Complaint) at
Everette McDuffie filed his motion for summary judgment on
April 26, 2018. (Dkt. 101). Defendants William Lee and
Meredith Cary filed a motion for summary judgment on May 29,
2018. (Dkt. 120). Defendants Donnie L. Trent II, Terrence M.
Huff, T. Buchanan, Stephanie C. Fletcher, and Rick Saylor
filed their motion for summary judgment on May 29, 2018.
(Dkt. 123). Morris filed a cross-motion for summary judgment
on June 25, 2018, against Defendants Cary and Lee. (Dkt.
134). Morris subsequently filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment on July 25, 2018, against Defendants Fletcher, Huff,
Trent, Buchanan, and Saylor. (Dkt. 149).
The Eighth Amendment Standard
Eighth Amendment's prohibition of “cruel and
unusual punishment” imposes a duty on prison officials
to “provide humane conditions of confinement . . .
[and] ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing,
shelter, and medical care . . . .” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994); see Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976). “Prisoners
alleging that they have been subjected to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement must satisfy the Supreme
Court's two-pronged test set forth in Farmer v.
Brennan.” Scinto v. Stansberry, 841 F.3d
219, 225 (4th Cir. 2016).
“Farmer's objective prong requires
plaintiffs to demonstrate that the deprivation alleged [was],
objectively, sufficiently serious.” Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted). In order to be
sufficiently serious, the deprivation must pose “a
serious or significant physical or emotional injury resulting
from the challenged conditions, ” or “a
substantial risk of such serious harm resulting from . . .
exposure to the challenged conditions.”
De'lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 634 (4th
Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A
medical need is sufficiently serious when it has either
“been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment
or . . . is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 241 (4th Cir. 2008).
under Farmer's ‘subjective' prong,
plaintiffs must show that prison officials acted with a
‘sufficiently culpable state of mind.'”
Scinto, 841 F.3d at 225. In conditions of
confinement cases, “the requisite state of mind is
deliberate indifference.” Id. This means the
officials knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to inmate
health or safety. Id. Deliberate indifference
requires “more than mere negligence” but less
than acts or omissions done for the very purpose of causing
harm or with knowledge harm would result. Id.
The R&R and ...