United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. MCDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the defendants' motion for
summary judgment (doc. 65). The plaintiff, who is proceeding
pro se, filed this action asserting claims for violations of
his constitutional rights pursuant to Title 42, United States
Code, Section 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28,
United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is
authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases filed
under Section 1983 and submit findings and recommendations to
the district court.
plaintiff is currently incarcerated in Dixon Correctional
Institution in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is
a former inmate of the South Carolina Department of
Corrections (“SCDC”). In a complaint filed on
February 9, 2018, the plaintiff and 27 other inmates
attempted to file a class action to litigate the conditions
of their confinement in the SCDC (see Dyke v.
Staphen, C.A. No. 6:18-402-TMC, doc. 1). The court
allowed each plaintiff to pursue their individual claims in
separate cases (see id., doc. 5), which the
plaintiff did in the instant action (doc. 1). By order dated
May 29, 2018, the undersigned found that the plaintiff's
complaint was subject to summary dismissal as it failed to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted (doc. 22). The
undersigned allowed the plaintiff 14 days in which to correct
the defects in his complaint by filing an amended complaint
(id.). The plaintiff filed an amended complaint in
the instant action on June 11, 2018 (doc. 27). On June 18,
2018, the undersigned authorized service of process on the
defendants (doc. 28). The defendants' answer was filed on
August 29, 2018 (doc. 40). On November 16, 2018, the
undersigned granted the defendants' motion to take the
plaintiff's deposition at the institution where he is
housed in the Illinois Department of Corrections (doc. 54).
The deposition was conducted on December 7, 2018 (doc. 65-2).
The defendants were granted two extensions of time within
which to file their dispositive motions (docs. 49, 58).
January 22, 2019, the defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment (doc. 65). On February 4, 2019, pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
the plaintiff was advised of the summary judgment procedure
and the possible consequences if he failed to respond
adequately (doc. 67). The plaintiff did not timely respond,
and an order was issued on March 12, 2019, giving him through
April 1, 2019, to file his response to the motion for summary
judgment (doc. 73). On April 1, 2019, the plaintiff filed a
motion for extension of time to file his response, which was
granted through May 3, 2019 (docs. 77, 78). On April 23,
2019, a second motion for extension of time was granted
through June 3, 2019 (docs. 80, 81). The plaintiff again did
not file a response to the motion for summary judgment within
the required time period, and therefore an order was issued
on June 4, 2019, giving the plaintiff through June 24, 2019,
to file his response (doc. 86). The plaintiff was again
advised that if he failed to respond, this action would be
subject to dismissal for failure to prosecute (id.)
On June 24, 2019, the plaintiff filed his third motion for
extension of time (doc. 88). On June 25, 2019, the plaintiff
was granted a final extension of time through July 25, 2019
(doc. 89). The order specifically stated that no further
extensions would be granted and again advised that if he
failed to file a response to the motion for summary judgment,
this action would be subject to dismissal for failure to
prosecute (id.). The plaintiff failed to file any
response to the motion for summary judgment.
plaintiff filed this action against defendants Michael
Stephan (misidentified as Michael Staphen), Lisa Young, Anita
Stevens (misidentified as Anite Stevens), and Laura Kawaguchi
(doc. 27 at 1). The plaintiff's complaint arises from
an incident that occurred on October 23, 2017, when he was
incarcerated in the SCDC (doc. 65-2, pl. dep. 20-22). The
plaintiff testified that, on that date, he was stabbed in the
Saluda Unit in Broad River Correctional Institution
(“BRCI”) by another inmate, Timothy Rainey, while
he was in “Statewide Protective Custody”
(id. 22, 24). The plaintiff was located in the
Saluda Restrictive Housing Unit at the time (doc. 65-9,
Stevens aff. ¶ 5) The plaintiff testified that on
October 23rd, he and Rainey were “jawing
back and forth" at one another (doc. 65-2, pl. dep. 47).
The plaintiff stated that defendant Stevens, who was at that
time a Sergeant at BRCI, was working in the unit (id.
120). He stated that the “jawing” back and forth
was not worrisome, and he told defendant Stevens that she
should not “be scared” (id.
The plaintiff stated that another officer was in the control
room during all relevant times as well (id. 26).
Defendant Stevens left to go get the inmates' food from
the commissary (id.). While defendant Stevens
retrieved the lunch, the officer in the control room
monitored the Saluda Unit (doc. 65-9, Stevens aff.
¶¶ 11-12). The plaintiff testified that, while
Stevens was gone, Rainey stabbed him with a flat blade (doc.
65-2, pl. dep. 34).
Stevens testified in her affidavit that, once she returned
from getting the inmates' lunch, the plaintiff appeared
injured, but he told her “not to worry about it,
” and he did not mention being stabbed by another
inmate, in particular Rainey (doc. 65-9, Stevens aff. ¶
14). Regardless, Stevens testified that she and another
officer escorted the plaintiff to see medical personnel to
treat the plaintiff's injuries (id. ¶ 15;
doc. 65-3). She further testified that the plaintiff was
examined by medical staff (doc. 65-9, Stevens aff. ¶
incident report and medical records submitted by the
defendants show that the plaintiff refused some treatment
(doc. 65-3) but allowed for a bandage to be placed on his
head (doc. 65-4 at 7). The medical staff told Stevens and the
other officer to place the plaintiff in a holding cell for
further treatment (doc. 65-9, Stevens aff. ¶ 15). While
being escorted to the holding cell, the petitioner sprinted
out of the room and climbed a fence (id.
¶¶ 16-17; doc. 65-4 at 7 (“I/M Winkfield is
hanging on the fence . . . with . . . a bandage on his
head.”)). He eventually came down from the fence and
was taken back to a holding cell to be assessed by the
medical staff (doc. 65-3). The plaintiff told medical staff
that he had “two cuts on [his] head and one on [his]
shoulder” (doc. 65-4 at 6). He stated that he
“got in a fight and got stabbed” (id.).
The plaintiff's wounds were described in the medical
record as a laceration on the right temple (approximately 3
mm deep), a laceration on the upper mid forehead
(approximately 7 mm deep), and a laceration on the left
shoulder (approximately one inch long) (id.).
plaintiff testified that he never received any medical
treatment for his injuries (doc. 65-2, pl. dep. 125, 146).
However, the plaintiff's medical records show that he was
seen by medical staff on October 23, 2017, at 2:54 p.m. for
the wounds described above and again at 3:34 p.m. so that a
nurse practitioner could evaluate him for stitches (doc. 65-4
at 6-7). He refused the nurse practitioner's attempts to
clean the wounds in order to place stitches, so he was
“educated on the potential for infection and prolonged
wound healing” (id. at 6). The plaintiff
allowed his head wounds to be cleaned with wound cleanser and
covered with gauze (id.). The plaintiff was seen
again on October 24, 25, and 26 to receive further treatment
for his injuries (id. at 2-5). On October 26, 2017,
SCDC's medical personnel noted that the plaintiff's
wounds were scabbing and showed no signs of infection, and
the plaintiff had no complaints of pain (id. at 2).
plaintiff testified that, prior to October 23, 2017, he had
no knowledge that Rainey was going to harm him (doc. 65-2,
pl. dep. 29). The plaintiff never received any threats from
Rainey (id. 34). Defendant Stevens testified in her
affidavit that the Saluda Restrictive Housing Unit “is
on lockdown and secluded from the remaining BRCI units for
the safety of these inmates” (doc. 5-9, Stevens aff.
¶ 6). She further testified that, in this particular
unit, inmates “mouth off at one another” and
“make disparaging remarks directed at one another on a
daily basis. This is considered customary by inmates”
(id. ¶ 7). According to Stevens, on the day of
the alleged stabbing, the conversations between the plaintiff
and other inmates were normal, and she had no reason to
believe that any inmate would become violent towards the
plaintiff (id. ¶¶ 8-10).
plaintiff testified, as set out above, that defendant Stevens
was not in the unit at the time of the stabbing (doc. 65-2,
pl. dep. 29). The plaintiff also admitted that defendant
Warden Stephan was not working at BRCI at the time of the
incident (id. 35-36). Defendant Stephan was the
Warden at McCormick Correctional Institution in October 2017
and became the Warden at BRCI in November 2017 (doc. 65-7,
Stephan aff. ¶ 1). Further, the plaintiff admitted that
defendant Young was not working in the unit on the day of the
incident (doc. 65-2, pl. dep. 41). Defendant Young, who was
formerly a Captain at BRCI, concurred and stated in her affidavit
that she was not present during the alleged stabbing and was
not working in the plaintiff's unit at that time (doc.
65-8, Young aff. ¶ 5). The plaintiff testified that he
did not recall seeing defendant Kawaguchi the day of the
incident or at any time during the events stated in his
complaint (doc. 65-2, pl. dep. 43). Defendant Kawaguchi, who
was formerly the Assistant Division Director for
Classification and Inmate Records at BRCI, testified in her
affidavit that she has been retired from SCDC since 2014
(doc. 65-10, Kawaguchi aff. ¶ 1).
IN AMENDED COMPLAINT
amended complaint, the plaintiff claimed that his radio was
taken by Captain Young (doc. 27 at 14), and in his
deposition, he testified that the radio was returned
undamaged within two to three weeks (doc. 65-2, pl. dep.
103). The plaintiff admitted this concern was promptly
remedied after he wrote request forms (id.). He did
not state any damages that were suffered as a result of this
allegation. The plaintiff also alleged in his amended
complaint that “Sgt. Stevens and other officers that
work there was tak[ing] my mail for no reason” (doc. 27
at 8). He also did not state any damages suffered as a result
of this allegation. As noted by the defendants, the
plaintiff's amended complaint focused on the events from
October 23, 2017, and the medical treatment following this
incident (id. at 5).
section of his amended complaint regarding exhaustion of
administrative remedies, the plaintiff stated that he filed a
grievance claiming that “Sgt. Stevens [and] other
officers that work there was taking my mail for no reason.
An[d] Cpt. Young keeping me in my room to die right after I
done cut myself” (doc. 27 at 8). In response to the
question of whether the grievance process was completed, the
plaintiff stated, “really don't [know] cause they
play too many game[s] with the mail. [T] hey was not doing
anything about the grievance. [T]hey keep them in the mail
box for weeks with no respon[se]” (id.).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 states, as to a party who has
moved for summary judgment: “The court shall grant
summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As to
the first of these determinations, a fact is deemed
“material” if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the disposition of the case under
the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material fact is
“genuine” if the evidence offered is such that a
reasonable jury might return a verdict for the non-movant.
Id. at 257. In determining whether a genuine issue
has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving
party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654,
party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden
of demonstrating to the district court that there is no
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the movant has
made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to
survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the
allegations averred in his pleadings; rather, he must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. at 324. Under this
standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the plaintiff's position is insufficient to
withstand the summary judgment motion. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials,
without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of
the summary judgment motion. Id. at 248. “Only