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Evans v. S.L.R. Detention Center

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

January 23, 2019



          Thomas E. Rogers, III, United States Magistrate Judge


         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendants violated his constitutional rights by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment. Presently before the court are Defendants Sweat's and Glisson's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 56) and Defendant Abraham's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 57).[1] Because he is proceeding pro se, Plaintiff was advised pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.3d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), that a failure to respond to the moving Defendants' motions could result in dismissal of his case. Plaintiff timely filed a Response (ECF No. 65). All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), DSC.

         II. FACTS

         At all times relevant to this allegations in this complaint, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Sumter Lee Regional Detention Center (SLRDC). In his verified complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on May 4, 2017[2], at 6:30pm while on suicide watch he managed to get two small razor blades. He sliced his right wrist. Defendants Sweat and “Gleason” came in and then Plaintiff swallowed the blades. Plaintiff informed Sweat and “Gleason” that had swallowed the blades. Nurse Abraham was called, and she asked him about the cut on his wrist and where the razor blades were. She informed him that she would give him some laxatives to pass the blades. Then, Defendants strapped him in a chair, and one of the restraints was right over the cut in his wrist. Blood built up in his throat and he started choking and passed out. He was awakened later being taken out of the chair straps for five minutes and then strapped back in the chair. The lights stayed on all night. He was then taken out of the chair the next morning and told to shower. Around 9am he was taken to a hospital and admitted. He said Defendant Abraham was very angry. The two blades were in his intestines per the x-ray. A doctor stated that he was to remain until a bed could come open at Bryan's Mental Health. He passed the blades and a few days later was told the ER needed his room and was told by a doctor he would have to wait at the detention center. Later, he found out the detention center removed his name from the list for placement at the mental health facility. Compl. pp. 7-9.[3]

         He also reports he was kept in solitary confinement for over ninety days “without cause” and is having problems with his medications as well. Under relief, he states he wants to “get to mental health... and placed in an open pod.” He wants access to a law library. He requests monetary damages. Compl. p. 10.

         Defendant Sweat is a Lieutenant, who is responsible for supervising all staff on his shift and maintaining the safety and security of the institution, the staff and the inmates. Defendant Glisson is a correctional officer, who is responsible for monitoring whatever pod he is assigned. Defendant Abraham is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), who works in the medical department at SLRDC. The record reveals that Plaintiff made numerous threats about committing suicide. Sweat Aff. ¶ 5 (ECF No. 56-4); McGhaney Aff. ¶ 6 (ECF No. 56-7); Shirah Aff. ¶ 4 (ECF No. 56-6).

         Plaintiff initially threatened suicide during booking on April 9, 2017. Richardson Aff. ¶¶ 3-4 (ECF No. 56-5). Any time an inmate threatens suicide, or attempts to harm himself, medical is contacted and determines if the inmate is going to be placed on a suicide watch and how long the watch will last. Sweat Aff. ¶ 6. According to her affidavit, Officer Richardson consulted with medical staff and her supervisor, and Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch in one of the holding cells in the booking area to protect him from self-harm, until he could be moved to a regular cell. Richardson Aff. ¶¶ 4-5.

         Several days later on April 13, 2017, Plaintiff was observed eating his feces, and EMS was called to take him to the hospital. Windham Aff. ¶¶ 4-6 (ECF No. 56-2). He was examined at the hospital and was then released and returned to SLRDC. Windham Aff. ¶¶ 4-6. Upon his return to SLRDC, he was moved to B pod, which is the Special Management Unit (SMU), due to his continued need to be on suicide watch. Shirah Aff. ¶ 10. On April 15, 2017, he was found chewing on his hand and causing it to bleed. Shirah Aff. ¶ 11. Medical was contacted, and it was also decided to place him in the restraint chair, for his own safety. Shirah Aff. ¶ 11. He was checked regularly while in the restraint chair, and as soon as he was calm, he was removed from the restraint chair. Shirah Aff. ¶ 12.

         On May 4, 2017, the incident at issue in this complaint occurred. A nurse was called to the Bravo Pod where Plaintiff was in the sally port crying. His vitals were taken and, as a safety precaution, he was placed on suicide watch, which required all of his belongings to be taken from his cell. Sweat Aff. ¶ 9; Glisson Aff. ¶¶ 5-6; Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(i) (ECF 57-1).[4] As a result, Defendants Sweat and Glisson removed everything from his cell and placed him in the suicide smock. A short time later, during a routine check on this inmate, Glisson observed Plaintiff biting on his wrist. Glisson Aff. ¶ 7. Plaintiff asserts, however, that he obtained razor blades while on suicide watch and cut his wrist. Glisson called for his supervisor, Sweat, and Nurse Abraham to respond. Glisson Aff. ¶ 7. Defendants assert that Plaintiff's wound was cleaned by Nurse Abraham, and he was placed in the restraint chair at the direction of Defendant Sweat to keep him from harming himself further. Sweat Aff. ¶ 10; Glisson Aff. ¶ 8. Plaintiff, however, states that Nurse Abraham never attended to his wound. He was regularly monitored while in the restraint chair and was removed from the restraint chair when he appeared calm and no longer saying he was going to harm himself. Sweat Aff. ¶ 11; Glisson Aff. ¶ 9. Two more times that night Plaintiff started biting himself and was placed back in the restraint chair to protect him from self-harm until he was able to calm down. Sweat Aff. ¶¶ 12-14; Glisson Aff. ¶¶ 10-12. Plaintiff alleges he passed out while in the restraint chair, but neither Defendant Sweat or Glisson recall him ever passing out while in the restraint chair. Sweat Aff. ¶ 15; Glisson Aff. ¶ 13. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges the lights were left on all night, but these Defendants testified that SLRDC does not leave the lights on in cells during the night. Sweat Aff. ¶ 16; Glisson Aff. ¶ 8.

         The following day, May 5, 2017, two nurses attended to Plaintiff and examined and cleaned wounds on his arm and hand. Harden Dep. ¶ II(b)(ii). Contrary to Plaintiff's allegations in his complaint that he sliced his wrist with a razor blade and then swallowed it on May 4, 2017, the records reflect Plaintiff had an area on his right forearm where he had taken the metal clip from a pen and dug into his arm along with using his teeth in an attempt to puncture his wrist, as described above. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(ii). Plaintiff told the two nurses that he swallowed the metal clip from a pen, the same piece he had used in his attempt to cut himself. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(ii). As a result, a nurse ordered an x-ray via a mobile x-ray unit. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(iii). However, the mobile unit was not available so the nurse sent Plaintiff to the hospital emergency room for evaluation. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(iii). Neither Defendant Sweat or Glisson was involved in this incident. Sweat Aff. ¶ 17; Glisson Aff. ¶ 15. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he swallowed a razor blade at SLRDC, and he was sent to the hospital the next day. However, the records from the hospital on the date he was admitted, May 5, 2017, state “Patient complains of swallowed a part of a pen.” Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(vi). During the hospitalization, a radiology report revealed a metallic object in Plaintiff's lower abdominal area. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(vii). By May 9, 2017, while Plaintiff was still hospitalized, Plaintiff had passed the metallic object. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(vii). While at the hospital, Plaintiff informed an attending nurse that, although he had been placed on Risperdal and Citalopram at SLRDC, he had refused to take the medications. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(x).

         Plaintiff told an officer while he was in the hospital that he had a “sharp object” hidden in his cell. Sweat Aff. ¶ 17; Glisson Aff. ¶ 18. As a result, his cell was searched, and a needle or paper clip was found in his cell. Sweat Aff. ¶ 17; Glisson Aff. ¶ 18. Plaintiff was released from the hospital back to SLRDC on May 16, 2017, and returned to his prior cell, and Defendants Sweat and Glisson had very limited contact with him after his return from the hospital. Sweat Aff. ¶ 20; Glisson Aff. ¶ 19.

         Plaintiff was again placed in the restraint chair on May 27, 2017, by Officer Shirah, when he was threatening to harm himself. Shirah Aff. ¶ 13. When he appeared to be calm and not thinking about hurting himself, he was removed from the chair. Shirah Aff. ¶ 14.

         On May 30, 2017, Nurse Abraham was called to the Bravo Pod for a report that Plaintiff stated he wanted to hurt himself. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(xiv). Plaintiff indicated that he was upset that the doctor did not clear him for an open pod. Harden Aff. ¶ ii(b)(xiv). Plaintiff informed Abraham that he has swallowed “ink pen pieces, ” and, thus, she ordered an abdominal x-ray. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(xiv). Plaintiff then requested that he be placed in the restraint chair due to his thoughts of self-harm and, thus, Abraham notified officers of his need to be placed in the restraint chair. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(xiv); Windham Aff. ¶¶ 7-8. He was then monitored and when he was finally calm, he was removed from the restraint chair. Windham Aff. ¶ 9. On May 31, 2017, the radiology report revealed there were no foreign objects detected. Harden Aff. ¶ II(b)(xvii). Plaintiff also alleges he was placed in solitary confinement for no reason while at SLRDC. The record shows he was placed in SMU due to his threats to harm himself, and while there, his file was reviewed at least every thirty days to determine his status and when he could be moved to an open pod. Sweat Aff. ¶¶ 21-24; McGhaney Aff. ¶¶ 6-9. Medical was involved in ...

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