Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gordon v. Holloway

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

June 13, 2019

CARL D. GORDON, Plaintiff,
GREGORY HOLLOWAY, et al., Defendants.



         Carl Gordon, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [1] 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.[2] 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.

         I. Factual Background

         Gordon 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.

         On 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.

         On May 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.

         Liberally 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[3] 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.[4]

         In 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.

         II. Analysis

         A. Standards of Review

         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 249.

         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 322-24; 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 249-50).

         Gordon 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 (2009).

         “To 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). ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.