United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge
Tillerson, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983,  alleging constitutional violations while
housed at the Buckingham Correctional Center (Buckingham).
Defendants Warden Booker, Assistant Warden White, and
Lieutenant Patton filed a motion for summary judgment, and
Tillerson responded, making this matter ripe for
disposition. Having reviewed the record, the court
concludes that the defendants' motion for summary
judgment must be granted.
alleges that on March 28, 2017,  he was assaulted by his
cellmate. Prior to the assault, Tillerson “expressed
[his] fear” to the floor officer, Officer Scruggs, and
requested to speak with the watch commander, Lt. Patton.
Officer Scruggs told Tillerson to return to his cell and,
thereafter, he “was brutally attacked and injured in
[his] right eye and bitten on [the] left side of [his]
face.” (Compl. 3-4, Dkt. No. 1; V.S., Attach. 2-4, Dkt.
unverified amended complaint, Tillerson alleges that he
“is registered as a Muslim and [his] cellmate was known
to be a member of the Bloods. This was reiterated and made
known to both Lt. Patton and Officer Scruggs at the time [the
other inmate] was assigned to cell with Tillerson.”
Tillerson also alleges that Lt. Patton and Officer Scruggs
knew that the other inmate “detested Muslims with a
passion.” (Am. Compl. 1-2, Dkt. No. 24.)
alleges that Warden Booker is “responsible for the
safety and well-being of all inmates.” Tillerson
further alleges that Asst. Warden White is “responsible
for monitoring gang affiliation” and failed to oversee
the records department, who “chose to house inmates in
any available location without due consideration to any
danger, ” leading to Tillerson erroneously being paired
with the other inmate. Tillerson also alleges that Warden
Booker conducted a full investigation into the attack and
“concluded [that Tillerson] was a victim and errors had
been made.” (Compl. 3-4; V.S., Attach. 2-4; Am. Compl.
the incident, Tillerson was transferred to a segregation cell
until April 14, 2017. On April 16, 2017, Tillerson filed an
informal complaint regarding the incident. Prison staff
responded on April 26, 2017. Tillerson then filed a regular
grievance on May 2, 2017. On May 4, 2017, Buckingham's
Human Rights Advocate (Advocate) Meinhard refused intake of
the regular grievance because the thirty-day filing period
had expired. Tillerson appealed the intake decision. On May
11, 2017, the Regional Ombudsman upheld the intake refusal
because the regular grievance was filed late. (V.S., Attach.
2-4; Am. Compl. 3.)
their motion for summary judgment, defendants Warden Booker,
Asst. Warden White, and Lt. Patton argue, among other things,
that Tillerson failed to exhaust administrative remedies
prior to filing this action. Additionally, defendants argue
that Tillerson's remaining claims fail on their merits,
but the analysis merely argues that the first amended
complaint fails to state a claim. (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J.
4-16, Dkt. No. 29.)
construed, Tillerson's remaining claims are that: (1)
Warden Booker, Asst. Warden White, and Lt. Patton failed to
protect Tillerson in violation of the Eighth Amendment; (2)
Warden Booker and Asst. Warden White are liable under the
theory of supervisory liability; (3) Warden Booker and Asst.
Warden White failed to ensure the safety of Tillerson's
environment; and (4) Tillerson was improperly housed in a
cell with a gang member in violation of Virginia Department
of Corrections (VDOC) policy.
Standard 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