United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's pro se
complaint, filed in this court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, claiming deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs. ECF No. 1. On July 13, 2018, Defendants filed a motion
for summary judgment. ECF No. 25. A Roseboro Order was mailed
to Plaintiff on July 16, 2018, advising him of the importance
of a dispositive motion and the need to file an adequate
response. ECF No. 26. After two extensions, Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the summary judgment motion on
September 19, 2018. ECF No. 37. On September 25, 2018,
Defendants filed a reply to Plaintiff's response in
opposition. ECF No. 40.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02 (B)(2)(d), DSC, this matter was referred to United
States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III, for pre-trial
proceedings and a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”). On January 25, 2019, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report recommending Defendants' summary
judgment motion be granted. ECF No. 45. The Magistrate Judge
advised Plaintiff of the procedures and requirements for
filing objections to the Report and the serious consequences
if he failed to do so. Plaintiff did not file objections
within the time allowed, and the court entered summary
judgment for Defendants and dismissed the case. ECF Nos. 49,
50. However, on March 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed a notice of
change of address (ECF No. 53) and motion for extension of
time to file objections (ECF No. 54). He explained he was
moved to a new institution and the Report was sent to his
previous institution, where they held it “for over a
month.” Id. Therefore, he was unable to file
objections within the given time. The court vacated its
opinion and granted Plaintiff's motion for extension of
time. ECF No. 55. Plaintiff timely filed objections on March
18, 2019. ECF No. 58. Defendants filed a reply on
March 29, 2019. ECF No. 61.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. See Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976).
The court is charged with making a de novo determination of
any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a
specific objection is made. The court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The
court reviews the Report only for clear error in the absence
of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(stating that “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.”) (citation omitted).
Magistrate Judge recommends granting summary judgment to
Defendants on both of Plaintiff's claims of deliberate
indifference to his safety and his medical needs. ECF No. 45
at 6-11. As to the safety claim, the Magistrate Judge found
Plaintiff failed to establish he sustained a serious or
significant injury as a result of his fall, and failed to
establish Defendants “wantonly and obdurately”
failed to take precautions for his safety. Id. at 7,
9 (citing Ruefly v. Landon, 825 F.2d 792, 793 (4th
Cir. 1987)). As to the medical needs claim, the Report found
these Defendants are non-medical prison personnel who were
not personally involved in denying treatment, deliberately
interfered with treatment, or indifferent to a
physician's misconduct. Id. at 9 (citing
Miltier v. Beorn, 896 F.2d 848 (4th Cir. 1990)).
has also filed motions to add Doctor John B. McRee, in his
individual capacity as a Doctor at McCormick Correctional
Institution, as a Defendant. ECF Nos. 19, 20. These motions
were denied by the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 46), who
explained in the Report Plaintiff's proposed amendment
would be futile because “Plaintiff cannot present
sufficient evidence to withstand summary judgment as to a
claim against McRee.” ECF No. 45 at 10. The Report
found Plaintiff is unable to show he had a serious medical
need or that McRee acted with deliberate indifference to that
need, as Plaintiff was seen by medical staff immediately
after the fall and does not assert his complaints were
untreated. Id. at 10.
objections to the Report contain several pages of legal type
jargon discussing liability, qualified immunity, the summary
judgment standard, and the Fourteenth Amendment. ECF No. 58
at 3, 5, 10, 11, and 13. However, Plaintiff also presents
several specific objections to the Report, asserting there
are genuine issues of material fact. First, he argues there
was no stepstool in the van, and only one officer, who was
holding an umbrella and told him to get into the van, was
outside with him. Id. at 6. He contends two officers
should have accompanied him per SCDC policy, and should have
stayed with him until he was secured in a seat in the van.
Id. He asserts it was a “tactical
decision” to tell him to get into the van with no
assistance, or was the result of a failure to train SCDC
employees. Id. at 7. Plaintiff objects to
the Report stating he refused medical care on the day of the
fall, as he contends “not at any time did I refuse
medical care.” Id. at 7. He also notes Officer
Yeldell did not come outside immediately, as Defendant was
“sitting there in the rain and the water for some time,
in leg irons and belly chains.” Id. He argues
he did not have “daily access to medical staff”
for his insulin, and contends he “requested to see
medical staff (7) days after the fall” but was not
allowed to go to medical. Id. at 8. He contends
there are genuine issues of material fact and requests the
case proceed to trial. Id. at 9.
their reply, Defendants note Plaintiff provides no evidence
of violations of policy which he alleges, and even if he
could, policy violations alone cannot be the basis for a
constitutional claim. ECF No. 61 at 1. They also agree the
Report shows Plaintiff has failed to make out a claim for
deliberate indifference to safety and medical needs.
Id. at 1-2. They request the court deny
Plaintiff's objections and grant summary judgment.
Id. at 2.
Claims against Yeldell and New
court finds Plaintiff's objections regarding Defendants
Yeldell and New unavailing. Plaintiff complains of violations
of policy and/or a failure to train in his objections;
however, these allegations, even if proven, would not support
a claim for deliberate indifference under § 1983.
See Grayson v. Peed, 195 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir.
1999) (“Deliberate indifference is a very high standard
- a showing of mere negligence will not meet it.”).
Although Plaintiffs alleges Defendant Yeldell “failed
to act reasonably” and Defendant New “knew or should
have known that it was a risk to my health and safety”
(ECF No. 37 at 3), this alleges negligence on the part of
Defendants - not deliberate indifference. The court agrees
Plaintiff has failed to provide evidence Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his safety, i.e., that they
“wantonly and obdurately” failed to take
precautions for his safety in deliberate indifference
“to a specific known risk of harm.” Ruefly, 825
F.2d at 793.
addition, the court agrees Plaintiff has failed to show the
officers were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs
after the fall. It is undisputed Defendants took Plaintiff to
medical after his fall and received medical clearance for
transport, as well as dry clothes. Although the officers
ultimately were unable to take Plaintiff to his off-site
appointment because they would not arrive on time, there is
no evidence he requested medical care upon their return or
any allegations he had a visible or noticeable injury such
that he appeared to require care. There are no allegations
Defendants Yeldell or New were involved with Plaintiff or his
care after the attempted transfer and thus cannot be held
liable for any actions after that day - February 24, 2015.
reasons above, summary judgment is granted on Plaintiffs
claims as to Officers Yeldell and New, and the ...