United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. HODGES, Magistrate Judge.
Shawn Michael Robinson, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, is involuntarily committed to the Sexually Violent
Predator Treatment Program ("SVPTP") at the South
Carolina Department of Mental Health ("SCDMH")
pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. Â§ 44-48-10 through Â§ 44-48-170. He
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983,
alleging violations of his constitutional rights by the
following SCDMH employees: Anthony Myers,  Leonard
Ramsey,  Sabrina Wannamaker, and Robert
Vick (collectively "Defendants").
matter comes before the court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment [ECF No. 62]. Pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court
advised Plaintiff of the summary judgment procedures and the
possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to
Defendants' motion. [ECF No. 63]. The motion having been
fully briefed [ECF Nos. 66, 67], it is ripe for disposition.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civ.
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this matter has been assigned
to the undersigned for all pretrial proceedings. Having
carefully considered the parties' submissions and the
record in this case, the undersigned recommends the district
judge grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
submitted a verified complaint,  which is viewed as an
affidavit in this district and may, standing alone, defeat
summary judgment if it contains allegations that are based on
personal knowledge. Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d
820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991). However, Defendants submitted video
footage on which the court is entitled to rely. See
Smith v. Ozmint, 578 F.3d 246, 254 (4th Cir. 2009)
(holding that despite the parties' contradicting versions
of the fact, the court was entitled to rely on the video
recordings to find that no reasonable juror could have found
that the officers' use of force was excessive) (citing
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)).
alleges that on January 3, 2014, Public Safety Officer
("PSO") Myers physically assaulted him, without
reason or provocation, by punching him in the back as
Plaintiff waited in line for his nightly medication. [ECF No.
1 at 4]. Plaintiff contends this occurred because he filed a
lawsuit (C/A No. 3:13-cv-73-CMC-SVH) naming as a defendant
Dwight Green, who Plaintiff alleges is Myers' cousin.
Id. Defendants Vick and Ramsey were also named in
that suit. Id. at 3.
also alleges that on February 6, 2014, Myers and Vick
performed a search of his cell and confiscated his legal
documents and religious books. Id. at 4. Plaintiff
became very upset during the search and began yelling to
speak with the sergeant on duty. Myers Aff. at Â¶
11. When Plaintiff began to walk away from
room 119, Vick and Myers gave him verbal directives to return
to the room area, which he refused. Id.; ECF No.
62-7 at 2. Myers, Vick, and PSO Thorpe followed Plaintiff up
the stairs and, as they escorted him back down the stairs,
Plaintiff alleges Myers began jerking and pinching his left
arm. [ECF No. 1 at 5; Myers Aff. at Â¶ 12]. Plaintiff alleges
Myers was pinching him with enough force to cause his knees
to buckle under him. [ECF No. 1 at 5]. He alleges PSOs Branch
and Jacobs, who are not defendants in this action, slammed
him face first into a chain link fence. Id.
Plaintiff claims that while five persons were subduing him,
Myers pulled down Plaintiff's pants and underwear and
rubbed either his hand or his nose in Plaintiff's
"butt crack." Id. Plaintiff alleges
Defendants placed wrist and leg restraints on him and then
pulled and carried him by the injured arm to the front of
room 119. Id. at 6.
then alleges that he was beaten in front of room 119.
Id. When Plaintiff refused to walk, he was carried
to observation room 101 by his arms, legs, and restraints.
Id.; ECF No. 62-7 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that a few
minutes later while he was still in restraints he was beaten
by Defendants and other staff in room 101. Id. He
alleges Myers "concentrated on inflicting pain on
Plaintiff's left hand and arm." Id.
Defendants allege, and Plaintiff has not disputed, that
Plaintiff remained hostile and was yelling threats at the
officers. Myers Aff. at Â¶ 15; Vick Aff. at Â¶
10. Plaintiff was given an injection by a
nurse. Id. Plaintiff claims that Defendants returned
an hour later and again beat him while he was in four-point
restraints. Plaintiff was placed on Secure Management Status
for 72 hours because he repeatedly banged his head on the
door of room 101. Myers Aff. at Â¶ 17; Vick Aff. at Â¶ 12.
claims he was later punished after a disciplinary hearing and
was placed in solitary confinement for over 90 days without
any treatment and rehabilitation privileges or access to his
legal and religious materials. Id. Plaintiff alleges
Wannamaker, his case manager, ordered that his punishment
continue beyond the original 90-day sentence, threatened him
with retaliation, and denied him rehabilitation treatment for
which he is civilly-committed. Id. Plaintiff alleges
Wannamaker prevented him from accessing his religious
materials and called him a "Devil Worshiper" and
submitted video evidence of Plaintiff awaiting his medicine
on January 3, 2014. ("Video A"). The video shows
that Myers lightly touches Plaintiff on the back as he
maneuvers to the nurse's station.
also submitted two videos from the incident on February 6,
2014. ("Video B" and "Video C"). Video B
shows Plaintiff walk away from room 119 as his room is being
searched, and two officers follow him. On their return trip,
as Plaintiff and the officers approach the hallway in which
room 119 is located, there is an apparent struggle. The other
residents appear to have been ordered to their rooms, as they
all exit an adjacent room and go to their rooms. The officers
place Plaintiff on the floor, but only his legs are visible
in the video. Although Plaintiff's bottom is not in the
camera's view during this time, at no point does it
appear that his pants or underwear are pulled down. When
Plaintiff returns to the camera's full view, he is in
wrist restraints, but not leg restraints. As Plaintiff is
being walked to room 119 with his arms behind his back, he
does not appear to be in pain. When the officers completed
the search of Plaintiff's room, they attempted to move
him to observation room 101, but Plaintiff fell to the floor
outside of room 119. The video reveals a struggle requiring
at least five officers to subdue Plaintiff and place him in
leg restraints. At the end of Video B, the officers are
escorting Plaintiff, who is in walking in wrist and leg
restraints, to room 101, and Plaintiff does not appear to be
Video C, officers are carrying Plaintiff by his arms, legs,
and restraints to place him in room 101. A nurse with a shot
in her hand follows the officers in room 101 and leaves the
room less than a minute later. Within a few minutes of the
officers' exit out of the room, Plaintiff can be seen
opening the flap of room 101 and sticking out his left hand
and arm, which are not in restraints of any kind, before
eventually beating on the flap. The officers return to the
room and appear to be again subduing Plaintiff when the video
Standard on Summary Judgment
court shall grant summary judgment "if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating that summary judgment is appropriate;
if the movant carries its burden, then the burden shifts to
the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If a movant
asserts that a fact cannot be disputed, it must support that
assertion either by "citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials;" or "showing... that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the evidence of
the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable
inferences must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party.
SeeAnderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, "[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. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary
will not be counted." Id. at 248. Further,
while the federal court is charged with liberally construing
a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the
development of a potentially meritorious case, see,
e.g.,Cruz v. Beto,405 U.S. 319 (1972), the
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to ...