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Scott v. Lewis

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

December 18, 2019

Gary Steven Scott, Plaintiff,
Warden Scott Lewis, Associate Warden Williams, Major Earley, Lieutenant Palmer, Lt. Scyphers, Lieutenant Lockhart, and Lieutenant Jones, Defendants.


          Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 72) recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 41). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts in part and declines to adopt in part the R & R as the Order of the Court. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Gary Scott is a post-conviction incarcerated person proceeding pro se to bring a claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for Defendants' violation of his Eighth Amendment rights for their alleged use of excessive force and deliberate indifference to his serious medical need. Plaintiffs claim arises from a May 11, 2017 incident, in which he was being transported to and from Perry Correctional Institution for a urologist appointment, having been diagnosed with an over-active bladder and benign prostatic hyperplasia. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.) During the approximately four-hour transport, Plaintiff requested to use a nearby restroom when the bus was stopped, but was told "emphatically, 'No.'" Plaintiffs renewed request was again denied at the second transport stop to the destination. Plaintiff alleges that this aggravated his urological condition, and that his resulting urine-stained clothing prevented him from offering his midday and evening prayers.

         During transport back to Perry, Plaintiffs requests were again denied. Defendant Scyphers responded in one instance, "shut up, you little snitch," referencing Plaintiff previously telling other officers about his denied requests and asking his urologist to update his medical records to reflect that he be transported in a van, rather than the bus that required mechanical restraints prohibiting him from using a restroom. (Id. at 6-8, No. 48-1.) After being called a "snitch" in front of fellow inmates, Plaintiff "became instantly belligerent," leading to Defendant Scyphers on the bus to call ahead for Defendants Williams, Earley and Palmer to meet it upon arrival, at which point Plaintiff told them what had transpired. (Id. at 9-10.) Plaintiff discusses at length S.C.D.C. Policy Op. 22.01, regarding use of mechanical security restraints. He seeks "the liability cap of $350, 000." (Id. at 12, 17.)[1]

         The Court previously dismissed Officer Brown as a defendant pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 69.) Before the Court now is the remaining Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 41), to which Plaintiff has responded in opposition (Dkt. No. 62) and Defendants replied (Dkt. No. 64). The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed no objections.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Review of R&R

         The 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, e.g., Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Where there are specific objections to the R&R, the Court "makes a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Id. Where there are no objections to the R&R, the Court reviews the R & R to "only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note; see also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983) ("In the absence of objection ... we do not believe that it requires any explanation.").

         B. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and it is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment should therefore be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party." HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Natl Red Cross, 101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this threshold demonstration, the non-movant must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. at 324. For this showing, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence"' in support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Transp., Inc., 190 F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         III. Discussion

         The crux of Plaintiff s claims is that, in light of his known urologic and prostate medical conditions, "[t]he repeated denial of the use of a privy while in mechanical restraints and no offer [of] a urine bottle constituted excessive force in violation of the 8th Amend, and S.C.D.C. Policy Op. 22.01," "deliberate indifference to a serious medical need," and "cruel and unusual punishment." (Dkt. No. 1 at 12, 13, 17.)

         A. Use of ...

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