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Jordan v. Large

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

August 22, 2019

JASON R. JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
T. LARGE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PAMELA MEADE SARGENT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jason R. Jordan, a Virginia inmate, filed this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging claims against the defendant, Sergeant T. Large, for violation of his Eighth and First Amendment rights while incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison, (“Red Onion”). In his Complaint, Jordan alleged that Large broke his radio and headphones during a search of his cell on July 15, 2016, and, later that same day, kicked Jordan in the groin area in retaliation for filing a grievance and lawsuit challenging Red Onion's Step-Down Program. Jordan also alleged that Large's kick to his groin area was a use of excessive force against him.

         These claims were tried to a jury on February 26, 2019, by which time, Jordan was represented by counsel. The next day, February 27, 2019, the jury found in Jordan's favor on his retaliation claim and awarded him damages of $25, 000; the jury deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on Jordan's excessive force claim. Defense counsel sought, and were granted, an extension of time to file post-trial motions. The matter is now before the court on the defendant's Motion For New Trial, (Docket Item No. 85) (“Motion”). In addition to opposing the Motion, Jordan has moved to voluntarily dismiss his excessive force claim, should the court deny the Motion to grant a new trial on his retaliation claim and enter judgment on the jury's verdict. (Docket Item No. 94).

         I. Facts

         At trial, Jordan testified that he was housed in the D6 Pod at Red Onion on July 15, 2016, when he was placed in a shower stall while officers searched his cell. Jordan said that defendant Large approached him in the shower and told him that his radio and headphones were broken. Jordan said that he told Large, “That's impossible, because I just bought my radio and my headphones two weeks ago.” Jordan said that Large told him that Stacy Day instructed Large to break Jordan's radio because Jordan had filed a grievance and lawsuits. Jordan testified that he then got into an argument with Large, resulting in him being charged with a disciplinary offense for threatening bodily harm. On cross-examination, Jordan admitted that he threatened Large by stating something like, “Remember me back in C building? … I go hard.” Jordan admitted that he accepted responsibility for making this threat by accepting a penalty offer made on the charge.

         Jordan said, as a result of being charged, he was then escorted by Large and two other correctional officers from the D6 pod out into the D Building yard to a cell in the D3 Pod. Jordan testified that the two correctional officers escorted him with their hands on his arms and shoulders, while Large walked behind them. Jordan said the officers escorted him to a remote area of the yard “away from all the surveillance cameras” when Large “aggressively kicked me in my groin” from behind. Jordan said that he groaned and leaned over because he could not straighten up. His testified that Large told him “You better straighten up; or not, I'm going to slam your black ass on the pavement.” Despite intense pain, Jordan said that he straightened up and walked into the D3 Building.

         Jordan said that Large denied his requests to see a nurse for his injuries and to receive an emergency grievance form. Jordan said when Nurse Shannon Woods came around for pill call that afternoon, he told her that Large had assaulted him. Jordan said that Woods asked him to pull down his pants so she could briefly examine him. She then told him to fill out a request form to schedule a sick call with Medical. Jordan said he completed the request form and gave it to Woods. Jordan said that he also told a male nurse the next day about Large assaulting him.

         An Offender Request form, dated July 18, 2016, was entered into evidence as Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 2. (Docket Item No. 67-1.) This form stated, “On 7-16-16 RN Collier came to D3 to provide Tylenol for my pain where I was kick[ed] below the waist by Sgt. T. Large.” Despite admitting that he completed this form, Jordan denied that Nurse Collier provided him with any Tylenol or treatment for his injuries. On the form, Jordan requested an x-ray of his genital area because he was passing blood in his urine and was in pain. The form is stamped stating it was received by the Medical Department on July 19, 2016, and S. Mullins responded on July 19, 2016, that Jordan was “Scheduled For Sick Call.”

         Jordan said that he was examined by Nurse S. Mullins on July 20, 2016. Jordan said that he told Mullins how he was injured on July 15, and he requested an x-ray. Jordan said that he was seen by a doctor for his injury on July 28, 2016. Jordan said that his testicles remained so swollen and painful that he could not sit down, lie down on the bed, sleep or take a shower.

         Jordan testified that he filed an Informal Complaint regarding Large kicking him on the date it occurred, July 15, 2016, but the Informal Complaint introduced into evidence as Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 4 was dated July 22, 2016. (Docket Item No. 67-3.) Jordan said that he also filed the Regular Grievance introduced into evidence as Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 5. (Docket Item No. 67-4.) On both the Informal Complaint and Regular Grievance, Jordan wrote nothing about Large breaking his radio and headphones, but, instead, stated that Large said he was “confiscating” his radio and headphones.

         Defendant Large testified that he worked as a correctional sergeant at Red Onion on July 15, 2016, supervising correctional officers doing a “shakedown, ” a quarterly search of offender cells for weapons or contraband. Large testified that when Jordan's cell was searched that day, a radio was found that was confiscated. Large stated that Jordan became upset and began yelling from the shower stall, so he walked down to talk with Jordan. Large said that, after he told Jordan that his radio was being removed to be inspected by Property, Jordan said, “You bitches don't remember me from C building. I go hard and you're about to get some.” Large said he perceived the statement as a threat, and he charged Jordan with making a threat. Based on the charge, Large said, Jordan was moved to prehearing detention in segregation in the D3 Pod.

         Large said that Jordan was restrained in handcuffs and leg irons as he was walked by two officers from the D6 Pod to the D3 Pod. Large said that each officer escorting Jordan had one hand on Jordan's shoulder and the other on Jordan's elbow. Large said that he walked behind Jordan and the other two officers, and he had no physical contact with Jordan. Large specifically denied kicking Jordan.

         After the close of evidence the jury was instructed, in part:

In this case, plaintiff has two claims under Section 1983. The plaintiff's first claim is an excessive ...

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