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Simon v. Paige

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 13, 2015

Jovan Cornelius Simon, #XXXXX-XXX, Plaintiff,
v.
L/CPL Kevin Paige, SCHP; Trooper Bucky Geddings, SCHP; L/Cpl Mark Jennings, SCHP; and Agent H. Eric Cohoon, ATF; Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD M. GERGEL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge, (Dkt. No. 97), recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Dkt. Nos. 84, 90) as to Plaintiff's federal claims and decline jurisdiction over Plaintiffs state claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court agrees with and ADOPTS the R & R as an order of this Court. Accordingly, Defendants' motions are GRANTED as to Plaintiffs federal claims, and this case is DISMISSED.

I. Background[1]

Plaintiff alleges in his verified Complaint that after Defendant Geddings arrested him, Defendant Page improperly placed Plaintiff in the front seat of Page's cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back while Defendants Geddings and Jennings looked on; that while transporting Plaintiff, Defendant Page ran into a metal pole and Plaintiff hurt his neck; and that the remaining Defendants were indifferent to his neck pain. The Magistrate Judge recommended granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs federal claims because Plaintiff has failed to put forward evidence that he suffered a serious injury or that Defendants knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health or safety. (Dkt. No. 97). Plaintiff has filed objections to the R & R. (Dkt. No. 99).

II. Legal Standard

A. Report & Recommendation

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

B. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Only material facts-those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law"-will preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine, "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Id. Thus, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiffs position will be insufficient." Id. at 252.

At the summary judgment stage, the court must "construe the evidence, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from such evidence, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Dash v. Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 310 (4th Cir. 2013). However, "the nonmoving party must rely on more than conclusory allegations, mere speculation, the building of one inference upon another, or the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence." Id. at 311.

III. Discussion

Because Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Eighth Amendment, governs his claim. Ervin v. Mangum, 127 F.3d 1099 (4th Cir. 1997). However, the same deliberate indifference standard applies. Id.

A. Failure to Protect Claim

To establish a claim for failure to protect, a plaintiff must show: (1) serious or significant physical or emotional injury and (2) that officials exhibited deliberate indifference to plaintiff's health or safety. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 634 (4th Cir. 2003). To be deliberately indifferent, a prison official must "know of and disregard an objectively serious... risk of harm." Id. A showing of mere ...


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