United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
CARL D. GORDON, Plaintiff,
GREGORY HOLLOWAY, et al., Defendants.
K. MOON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gordon, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights by not providing him adequate cleaning supplies while
in segregation, which caused him to endure living in a cell
with a dirty toilet. The matter is before me upon the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment supported by
affidavits. For the reasons set forth below, the
defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted
and Gordon's motion for summary judgment must be denied.
was confined in a segregation cell at Wallens Ridge State
Prison (“WRSP”) from May 3, 2012 to November 10,
2015. When he asked officers for a toilet brush with a
sufficiently long handle or latex gloves such that he could
clean his toilet, they refused these requests. They provided
a toilet brush with its handle cut too short to be used
without having to submerge his hand in the water. They told
Gordon that segregated inmates could not have a toilet brush
with a long handle or latex gloves because of security
concerns. Gordon submitted numerous, but unsuccessful,
complaints through the WRSP grievance process regarding the
need for adequate cleaning supplies.
January 3, 2013, officers moved Gordon to cell D122, in which
the toilet was filthy. Officers refused to provide Gordon
with a toilet brush. He was forced to eat his food
“smelling other men's feces in my toilet
bowl.” See Gordon Decl., Exh. 1 (docket no.
48). Officers did provide Gordon with cleaning supplies on
January 3, 2013 but did not provide a toilet brush until
January 11, 2013. Gordon complained that he needed cleaning
supplies on a more regular basis. He also complained that
each cell should be cleaned before an inmate is moved into
it, as VDOC policy requires.
8, 2013, Gordon asked for a latex glove to use while cleaning
his toilet. The warden advised him that special housing
offenders are to be provided with “two (2) sponges. One
(1) is for general purpose cleaning and one (1) is for toilet
cleaning. An officer is assigned to spray the offender's
sponges with the approved disinfectant.” Id.
at Exh. 12.
construed, Gordon's remaining claim contends that while
held at WRSP, he was forced to live in a cell where
conditions violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment
because: (1) the toilet was not cleaned before officers
placed him in the cell D122; (2) the cleaning supplies
provided to him were inadequate, because the toilet brush
handle was too short and he did not receive a rubber glove;
(3) having to continually smell the odor of feces, especially
while eating, made him nauseous and the dirty water would contact
his skin when he used the toilet; and (4) he was forced to
choose between cleaning his toilet with the provided sponges
and toilet brush without gloves or enduring the smell and
effects of living with an unclean toilet.
support of their motion for summary judgment, defendants
provide the affidavit of Dennis Collins, the Unit Manager of
D-Building at WRSP, concerning cell cleaning equipment
provided to segregation inmates. Officers provide each inmate
with “two new sponges every four to six weeks for cell
cleaning” and each inmate “has the opportunity to
clean his cell two times per week.” See
Collins Decl. at 2 (docket no. 51). Additionally, prison
staff provides the inmates “cleaning chemicals for
their sponges and since July 2015, disposable gloves are
provided upon request.” Id. Gordon has
responded to defendants' motion by filing his own motion
for summary judgment, making the matter ripe for disposition.
Standards of Review
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 249.
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 322-24; 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).
Instead, the nonmoving party must produce
“significantly probative” evidence from which a
reasonable jury could return a verdict in his favor.
Abcor Corp. v. AM Int'l, Inc., 916 F.2d 924, 930
(4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
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, “[p]rinciples requiring generous construction
of pro se complaints are not . . . without
limits.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). “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
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Notably, a plaintiff must sufficiently allege a
defendant's personal act or omission leading to a
deprivation of a federal right. See Fisher v. Washington
Metro. Area Transit Author., 690 F.2d 1133, 1142-43 (4th
Cir. 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Cty. of
Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). ...