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Heyward v. Price

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

March 29, 2019

Benjamin Heyward, Plaintiff,
v.
A. Price, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff Benjamin Heyward filed this civil rights action against Defendant Audrey Price (“Defendant” or “Lt. Price”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendant used excessive force against Plaintiff in violation of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 71.)

         This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 86), Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96), his two Motions for Discovery (ECF Nos. 89, 102), and his Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint (ECF No. 126). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald for pretrial handling. On October 9, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which he recommended that the court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and deny Plaintiff's remaining Motions as moot.[1] (ECF No. 110 at 7-8.) Plaintiff filed Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, which are presently before the court. (ECF No. 115.) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 86), DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96), and DENIES AS MOOT all remaining pending Motions. (ECF Nos. 89, 102, 126.)

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The facts of this matter are discussed in the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 110 at 1-4.) The court concludes, upon its own careful review of the record, that the Magistrate Judge's factual summation is accurate and incorporates it by reference. The court will only reference herein additional facts viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff that are pertinent to the analysis of his claims.

         Plaintiff is an inmate presently incarcerated at the McCormick Correctional Institution in McCormick, South Carolina. Plaintiff alleges that on April 13, 2017, when he was an inmate at the Kershaw Correctional Institution in Kershaw, South Carolina, Defendant used excessive force by spraying pepper spray in Plaintiff's face during an argument. (See generally ECF No. 71 at 7.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges:

On 4-13-2017, I went into hickory unit sallyport and I asked unit counselor Mr. R. Truesdale to tell inmate Patrick Brown #289401 ‘[h]ead ward keeper,' to give [me] some cleaning chemical because I needed to clean my cell. Mr. Truesdale told me unit manager, ‘Lieutenant' Price was in the control booth, I must ask her. I went to the control booth flap and asked Lt. Price to tell inmate Brown to give me some cleaning chemical because I needed to clean my cell. Lt. Price yelled at me and told me I wasn't getting any cleaning chemical. I then told Lt. Price I was going to write her up, and she yelled and told me she don't fuckin care, and I needed to get my black ass away from the control booth flap. I told Lt. Price, she needed to stop[] acting like a bitch. Lt. Price then came from around the control booth panel, to the control booth flap, and sprayed pepper spray into my face, eyes, nose and mouth. When I removed my face away from the control booth flap, some pepper spray almost went on Mr. Truesdale. Lt. Price got on the radio, and told the yard officer, she sprayed me with pepper spray because I called her a bitch.

(Id. ¶¶ 1-7.)

After being sprayed with pepper spray, I was escorted by Mr. Truesdale to medical to be treated. At medical[, ] Mr. Truesdale told my mental [h]ealth [c]ounselor Ms. Gardner, and nurse Cappadonia, Lt. Price and I was arguing over cleaning chemical and Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray through the control booth flap. Nurse Cappadonia then told me I shouldn't [have] been aggressive at the flap. After being treated by nurse Cappadonia, I was escorted by Mr. Truesdale to the holding cell in the administration building. While in the holding cell, Mr. Ford, ‘Major,' came and spoke to me about the incident. When I told Major Ford, Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray because I told her she needed to stop[] acting like a bitch, Major Ford went to hickory unit and spoke with Lt. Price about the incident. Major Ford thought Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray on the wing, not through the control booth flap.

(ECF No. 71 at 8 ¶¶ 10-12.)

On 4-17-2017, while being on lock up, I was being escorted from the shower by Mr. Ellis, corporal, when he told me Lt. Price is now saying I placed my arm into the control booth flap, and I tried to throw a substance on her, and I threaten[ed] to harm her, that's why she sprayed me with pepper spray. On 4-27-2017, while being on lock up, Major Ford came and he told me he signed an incident report from Lt. Price, stating I placed my arm into the control booth flap and I tried to throw a substance on her and I threaten[ed] to harm her. I told Major Ford I never received the charge, someone higher than the Major stopped the charge because they know Lt. Price was being dishonest[] about the incident.

(Id. at 9 ¶¶ 16-18.)

         As a result of being pepper sprayed, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered (1) burning eyes for one hour, (2) swollen eyes for three days, (3) a headache for seven days, (4) chest pain for five days, and (5) mental and emotional injuries for seven days. (Id. at 10 § V.) After exhausting his administrative remedies through the South Carolina Department of Corrections' (“SCDC”) inmate grievance process (see ECF No. 71 at 19-21), Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this court on January 17, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he was subjected to excessive force by Defendant in violation of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Id. at 4.) After receiving leave from the court (ECF No. 69), Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 71) on June 22, 2018.[2]

         Thereafter, on August 20, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 86) arguing that Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to state a claim under the Fourth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendments (id. at 8, 19) and, alternatively, even if Plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim, Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity (id. at 17). Plaintiff, then, filed Motions to Compel Discovery (ECF No. 89) on August 22, 2018, and September 17, 2018, a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 90) on August 29, 2018, as well as his own Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96) on September 7, 2018.

         Upon his review of the aforementioned Motions, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and deny as moot all remaining Motions. (ECF No. 110 at 7-8.) The Report concluded that none of the material facts at issue were disputed, therefore, Defendant's actions were reasonable. (Id. at 6-7.) Additionally, the Magistrate Judge believed that Plaintiff's arguments were without merit and failed to provide any proof for the stated claims sufficient to defeat summary judgment in favor of Defendant. (Id. at 7.)

         On October 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 115) and a Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint on February 27, 2019. (ECF No. 126.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         This court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on Plaintiff's claims against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which permits an injured party to bring a civil action against a person who, acting under color of state law, ordinance, regulation, or custom, causes the injured party to be deprived of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” Id.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge only makes a recommendation to this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Id. The court reviews de novo only those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objections are filed. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). The court reviews those portions which are not specifically objected to only for clear error. Id. at 316. The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         B. Motion for ...


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