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Parten v. Boland

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

October 26, 2018

Jeffrey Bryn Parten, Plaintiff,
Lt. Mickey Boland, Captain Kenneth Downing, Nurse Donna Miller, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. No. 1.) This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 35; 38.) Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in cases involving pro se litigants are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration. For the reasons set forth herein, the undersigned recommends granting both motions.


         The events giving rise to the instant action occurred on the morning of August 29, 2017, when Plaintiff fell in the shower while he was a pretrial detainee at Greenwood County Detention Center (“the Detention Center”). (Dkt. No. 1-3 at 5.) Plaintiff alleges that he “slipped and fell on [his] left wrist” while exiting the shower. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that “Officer James” and inmates Toyre Ned McCarthy and Tommy Smith witnessed the fall. (Id. 5-6.) Plaintiff alleges the “incident was due to negligence because there were no slip-resistant mats” in his shower. According to Plaintiff, he wrote maintenance three times in early September asking why there were not any slip resistant mats for “top tier showers” and was told “they were in the process of ordering mats.” (Id. at 7, 10.)

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the fall, he “sustained broken bones to my left wrist. As a result of slipping and falling on my wrist, it requires bones to be removed and fused together. I have not received treatment (surgery) [and am] gradually losing use of my hand/wrist. I stay in constant pain.” (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff also alleges he injured his head and shoulder. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive proper medical treatment for his injuries.

         Plaintiff alleges that an “outside contractor” performed an x-ray on August 29, 2018. (Dkt. No. 1-3 at 10.) According to Plaintiff, “PA and Nurse Donna Miller both stated that [he] had multiple broken bones and [] would probably require surgery.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he put in a request to medical on August 30, 2017, and he was told an MRI was being scheduled. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on August 31, 2017, he was transferred to Self Regional Hospital for an MRI and more x-rays. (Dkt. No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to medical again on September 5, 2018 and September 9, 2018, complaining of the pain in his hand/wrist. (Dkt. No. 1-3 at 10.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Miller told him it looked like an old injury and if so, the Detention Center would not be responsible. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he went to Lakelands Orthopedics on September 11, 2017. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, the doctor stated that it was an old break, that Plaintiff had re-broken his hand/wrist, and that it would require surgery. (Id.) When the doctor asked about payment for surgery, Plaintiff alleges that his transportation officer told the doctor “it's an old injury, [the] Detention Center is not responsible.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that his surgery was never scheduled. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Boland and Downing violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to provide slip resistant mats. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Miller refused to provide him the “right to medical care” in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at 5-6.) He seeks actual and punitive damages. (Dkt. Nos. 1 at 6; 1-3 at 6.) Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief in that the Court order “Donna Miller to send Plaintiff to an orthopedic to have [his] hand worked on or casted” to avoid permanent damage. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.)

         Plaintiff filed this action on September 20, 2017. On February 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed a letter with the Court, asserting that Defendants are denying him the surgery he needs and that he is “gradually losing mobility of [his] wrist/hand and muscle tissue due to pinched nerves” caused by his August 2017 fall. (Dkt. No. 21 at 1.) By Text Order, the Court asked Defendants to file a status report, advising the Court of the medical care Plaintiff has received, or is receiving, for the alleged injury. (Dkt. No. 23.) Defendants filed the requested status reports on February 16, 2018, asserting that Plaintiff has received proper medical care for the alleged injuries and that the surgery at issue was elective and was non-emergent. (Dkt Nos. 26 at 2-3; 27 at 2-3.)

         On March 8, 2018, Defendants Lt. Mickey Boland and Captain Kenneth Downing filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 35.) On March 9, 2018, Defendant Donna Miller filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 38.) These motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.


         A. Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint

          Plaintiff brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Haines, 404 U.S. at 520.. The mandated liberal construction means that only if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the complainant could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not construct the complainant's legal arguments for him. Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Nor should a court “conjure up questions never squarely presented.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         B. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment “shall” be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Facts are ‘material' when they might affect the outcome of the case, and a ‘genuine issue' exists when the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” The News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, “‘the nonmoving party's evidence is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in that party's favor.'” Id. (quoting Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999)); see also Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir. 1990).


         Defendants present several arguments in support of their Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 35-1; 38-3.) They argue, inter alia, that Plaintiff has failed to establish a violation of his constitutional rights. In support of their motions, Defendants have submitted affidavits from Defendants Boland and Miller and Plaintiff's medical records and grievance records. The undersigned will address Plaintiff's claims in turn.

         A. Conditions of Confinement

         To state a claim that conditions of confinement violate constitutional requirements, “a plaintiff must show both ‘(1) a serious deprivation of a basic human need; and (2) deliberate indifference to prison conditions on the part of prison officials.'”[1]Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d 1375, 1379 (4th Cir. 1993) (quoting Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 824 (4th Cir. 1991)). Here, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Boland and Downing violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to provide slip resistant mats.[2] (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff does not ...

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