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Curles v. Mitchell

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 25, 2019

Jimmy B. K. Curles, #271032, Plaintiff,
Ms. Mitchell, Kirkland Medical SCDC Head Nurse Ms. Sermons, Kirkland Medical SCDC Nurse Asst. Warden Thompson, Kirkland Asst. Warden Ms. Jennifer Woodall, Greenville Detention Head Nurse Ms. Karen Krein, Greenville Detention Medical Director Ronald Hollister, Greenville Detention Director Sgt. McCarthy, Greenville Detention Supervisor Security Sgt. Smith, Greenville Detention Supervisor Sgt. Bernard, Greenville Detention Supervisor Security Ofc. Dejurness, Greenville Detention Security Ofc. Lester Hall, Greenville Detention Security Sgt. Mahoney, Greenville Detention Supervisor Security Ofc. Shockley, Greenville Detention Security Defendants.


          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 that Defendants failed to protect him and failed to provide him with adequate medical care. Defendants Mitchell, Sermons, Thompson, Woodall, Hollister, and Krein have already been dismissed from this action. See Order (ECF No. 53). Presently before the court is Defendants McCarthy, Smith, Barnard, [1] Hall, Mahoney, and Shockley's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 59).[2] 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 filed a Response (ECF No. 72), albeit untimely. 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

         Plaintiff was housed at the Greenville County Detention Center (GCDC) from March 26, 2015, to November 23, 2015, as a pretrial detainee. Bodiford Aff. ¶ 3 (Ex. A to Def. Motion). From April 17, 2015, through July 12, 2015, Plaintiff was housed in Green Pod in Building One at GCDC. Bodiford Aff. ¶ 4. On July 12, 2015, Plaintiff was re-housed to F-Dorm in Building Two, due to “excessive infraction[s] in Green Pod.” Bodiford Aff. - Exh. 2; Hall Aff. ¶ 6 (Ex. B to Def. Motion). Before he was re-housed, the Plaintiff was frequently disruptive and argumentative, and would be locked down for hours at a time for failure to obey directives. Bodiford Aff. - Exh. 3. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff told anyone that placing him in F-Dorm would be a threat to his safety. Plaintiff alleges that he told Hall he could not be on that block because he “had issues with an inmate named Zach Braggs who is a gang member of the G's or Folks.” Pl. Compl. p. 2 of 5.[3] Plaintiff alleges he also complained to Bernard, Mahoney, McCarthy, Lenard, Smith, Shockey, Jedenance, and Hall at different times and days over three days. He alleges that he told the officers he “could not be housed there because he (Mr. Braggs) was in there with more of his members.” Pl. Compl. p. 3 of 5. Defendants do not deny that Plaintiff asked to be returned to the pods. However, they aver that he never communicated or expressed to them that he feared for his safety. McCarthy Aff. ¶¶ 9-11 (Ex. C to Def. Motion); Smith Aff. ¶¶ 6-7 (Ex. G to Pl. Motion); Barnard Aff. ¶¶ 5-6 (Ex. I to Def. Motion); Hall Aff. ¶¶ 10-13; Mahoney Aff. ¶¶ 33-34 (Ex. D to Def. Motion); Shockley Aff. ¶¶ 5-6 (Ex. H to Def. Motion). Hall avers that when Plaintiff was informed that he would be re-housed to F-Dorm, he told Hall that he planned to “cause trouble.” Hall Aff. ¶ 7. Plaintiff had no documented “keep-separates” in his file prior to his relocation to F-Dorm, meaning there was no record indicating that Plaintiff should be kept separate from any other inmate for security purposes at the time he was moved from Green Pod to F-Dorm. Hall Aff. ¶ 14.

         On July 12, 2015, after he was moved to F-Dorm in Building Two, Plaintiff disobeyed the direct order of a detention officer to line up for recreation time and walked to the sergeant's office. McCarthy Aff. ¶ 5. Plaintiff approached Sergeant McCarthy and requested to be re-housed in the pods. McCarthy Aff. ¶ 6. The pods are located in Building One, which is often referred to as the “new jail.” McCarthy Aff. ¶ 6. Plaintiff did not communicate or express to Sgt. McCarthy that he feared for his safety in F-Dorm, or that he was in any danger. McCarthy Aff. ¶¶ 9-11. Plaintiff asserts that McCarthy told him he would move him in thirty days. Pl. Compl.

         On July 16, 2015, Plaintiff was assaulted. Sergeant William Mahoney assumed duties that day as the Building Two Operations Supervisor. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 4. Around 8:00 p.m., Detention Officer Marshall Pope notified Sgt. Mahoney that Plaintiff claimed to have been assaulted by two other inmates in F-Dorm. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 4. Plaintiff asserts in his complaint, however, that he was assaulted by four inmates. Pl. Compl. Officer Pope removed Plaintiff from F-Dorm and staged him in Holding Cell 5 to be interviewed. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 4. Sgt. Mahoney asked Plaintiff what happened[4], and Plaintiff pointed to his bruised lip and a knot on his head and identified the injuries as a result of an assault by two inmates in F-Dorm. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 5. Plaintiff identified the two inmates as “the big black guy with the beard, ” later identified as Justin McLeod, “and the little white guy they call Zachary, ” later identified as Zachary Bragg. Mahoney Aff. ¶¶ 6-8. Plaintiff then stated, “I'm not worried about the little guy though, he didn't bother me, but it was the big black guy who got me.” Mahoney Aff. ¶ 6. When Sgt. Mahoney asked Plaintiff why he was not bothered by one person assaulting him when he was bothered by the other person assaulting him, the Plaintiff responded, “The black guy isn't a G.” (Mahoney Aff. ¶ 7). Plaintiff indicated that he did not want any problems with “the little white guy, ” later identified as Inmate Zachary Bragg, due to his gang affiliation. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 8. Plaintiff stated that Bragg assaulted him because he wanted him to “check out” of F-Dorm, and McLeod assaulted him when Plaintiff took back a radio he had let McLeod borrow. Mahoney Aff. ¶¶ 9-11.

         After Sgt. Mahoney completed Plaintiff's interview, Plaintiff was medically evaluated and cleared by Aisha Watkins in Medical and re-housed to UV (general population) Dorm. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 12. Plaintiff complained of jaw, back, and shoulder pain. Watkins Aff. ¶ 5 (Ex. E to Def. Motion). Plaintiff stated that in 2009, he had a steel plate inserted into his lower left jaw. Watkins Aff. ¶ 5. Watkins's notes from her evaluation of Plaintiff indicate that he had a small laceration to the lower left side of his lip with slight swelling and minimal bleeding; a quarter-sized possible contusion on the right side of the back of his head and the left side of his forehead; and multiple abrasions on his face and arms that were not bleeding. Watkins Aff. ¶¶ 6-8. At the time Watkins evaluated Plaintiff, he was already prescribed and received 800 mg of ibuprofen twice per day, and he refused ice for swelling. Watkins Aff. ¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiff was placed on the x-ray list for further evaluation of his jaw, and he was advised to contact medical if he started to vomit or developed sensitivity to lights and sound with vision disturbances. Watkins Aff. ¶¶ 10-11.

         Sgt. Mahoney thereafter interviewed Inmate Bragg and Inmate McLeod, as well as inmate witnesses in F-Dorm. Mahoney Aff. ¶¶ 13-23. After the investigation, Inmates McLeod and Bragg were re-housed to Red Pod on disciplinary detention for assault while awaiting space in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) for fighting. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 30. “Keep-separates” were entered so that Plaintiff would not be housed with Inmates Bragg or Mcleod for the duration of his incarceration. Mahoney Aff. ¶ 31.

         Two days after the altercation, on July 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed an inmate grievance to the medical staff, referencing the altercation and complaining of jaw pain. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000051-000052 (Ex. F to Def. Motion). In response to Plaintiff's second appeal of that grievance, Ronald Hollister stated that a Health Services staff member would follow-up with the Plaintiff regarding his report of ongoing concerns. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000055. On the same day, Nurse Practitioner Eastergard ordered 500 mg of mapap (acetaminophen) twice per day as well as one dose of neo/bacit/poly ointment. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000050.

         A medical note dated July 20, 2015 indicates that Plaintiff continued to have shoulder pain, and that he had a previous fall in Green Pod in May 2015. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000055. According to that note, Sgt. McCarthy was notified on July 20 of Plaintiff's request to be released to Green Pod due to the “G” gang members in Building 2, as well as a request to be kept separate from two inmates who were members of the same gang as Bragg. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000055-000056.

         Medical staff at GCDC ordered x-rays, and Plaintiff underwent x-rays of his jaw on July 20, 2015, and x-rays of his right shoulder, left elbow, and c-spine on July 27, 2015. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000057-000061. The jaw x-rays revealed no fracture of the jaw. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000057. The x-ray of the right shoulder was negative and showed no abnormality. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000058. The c-spine x-ray was normal and showed a mild loss of disc space similar to a prior study completed in December 2011 but revealed no fracture malalignment or soft tissue abnormality. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000059. The x-ray of Plaintiff's left elbow was negative and showed no fracture, dislocation, soft tissue injury, or joint effusion. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000060. Plaintiff does not dispute that he received these x-rays[5] but asserts that they were done only after he submitted medical grievances.

         On July 29, 2015, Plaintiff received a full medical exam, and he was prescribed diclofenac. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000062-000064. The orders also indicate Plaintiff was to be assigned a lower bunk. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000064. Plaintiff refused his morning doses of diclofenac on August 4, August 5, August 7, August 8, August 9, August 15, and August 21. Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000075.

         On August 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed an inmate request form to Health Services and stated that he was “still having bad pains in neck, shoulder, and back, and I think meds are making me sick. This injury is from being beat up. . . .” Roberts Aff. at GCDC 000067. In response to ...

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