United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
Michael J. Ferola, #291941, Plaintiff,
William R. Byars, Jr.; Gregory Knowlin; Kenneth Sharp; Jerry Adger, Officer Fulton; and Michael Bowers, Defendants.
R. BRYAN HARWELL, District Judge.
Plaintiff Michael J. Ferola, #291941 ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants William R. Byars, Jr.; Gregory Knowlin; Kenneth Sharp; Jerry Adger; Officer Fulton; and Michael Bowers ("Defendants") on September 6, 2013. See Compl., ECF No. 1. On June 6, 2014, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. See Defs.' Mot., ECF No. 76. After requesting and receiving several extensions, Plaintiff responded to Defendants' motion on August 4, 2014. See Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 94.
The matter is now before the Court after the issuance of the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of United States Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant. See R & R, ECF No. 96. In the R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommends the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. See id. at 18. The Magistrate Judge recommends Defendants' motion be granted in toto as to Defendants Byars, Adger, and Bowers. See id. The Magistrate Judge further recommends that Defendant Fulton be granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff's denial of access to courts claim and Defendants Knowlin and Sharp be granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff's conditions of confinement claim. See id. The Magistrate Judge recommends, however, that summary judgment be denied for Plaintiff's denial of access to courts claim as to Defendants Knowlin and Sharp and Plaintiff's conditions of confinement claim as to Defendant Fulton. See id. Finally, the Magistrate Judge recommends that Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief be dismissed. See id. at 19.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R to which specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The right to de novo review may be waived by the failure to file timely objections. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Id. Moreover, in the absence of objections to the R & R, the Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). However, in the absence of objections, the Court must "satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the motion with "specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)).
The moving party "bears the initial burden of pointing to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Temkin v. Frederick Cnty. Comm'rs, 845 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). If the moving party carries this burden, "the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with fact sufficient to create a triable issue of fact." Id. at 718-19 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). Moreover, "once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show there is a genuine issue for trial." Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, of conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See id.; Doyle v. Sentry, Inc., 877 F.Supp. 1002, 1005 (E.D. Va. 1995). Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, or admissions to demonstrate the existence of a genuine and material factual issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Baber, 977 F.2d at 875 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324)). The nonmovant's proof must meet "the substantive evidentiary standard of proof that would apply at a trial on the merits." Mitchell v. Data Gen. Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1316 (4th Cir. 1993); DeLeon v. St. Joseph Hosp., Inc., 871 F.2d 1229, 1223 n.7 (4th Cir. 1989).
The facts of this case, including citations to the record, were completely and accurately set forth in the R & R. See ECF No. 96 at 2-9. Briefly stated, there are two remaining causes of action pending against the Defendants: (1) denial of access to the courts and (2) conditions of confinement/failure to protect. With regard to the first claim, Plaintiff asserts that "prison officials" refused to allow him to send legal documents to three inmates he was attempting to serve with an assault claim he had filed in state court. See Compl., ECF No. 1 at 4-8. Moreover, he asserts he sent various mailings to the mailroom that the mailroom either failed to deliver or tampered with, resulting in him missing court deadlines. See id. Plaintiff's second claim alleges that he got into a verbal altercation with another inmate, Joseph Cannon ("Cannon"), after he submitted information to the Associate Warden about Cannon. See id. at 9. He alleges that Cannon threatened him in the presence of Defendant Fulton, but no corrective action was taken. See id. Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by Cannon soon after. See id. He asserts that he called to Defendant Fulton for help while he was being assaulted, but she did nothing. See id. He was taken to medical and examined by Dr. Paul Drago, who referred him to an outside hospital for facial contusions and "head injury with concussion." See id. at 10. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages as well as unspecified injunctive relief for the alleged violations of his constitutional rights. See id. at 21.
I. R & R and ...