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Reeves v. Ransom

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

March 31, 2014

WILLIAM B. REEVES, Plaintiff,
v.
CHANDRA RANSOM, MICHAEL AIKENS, KENNETH LAWSON, BRIAN BOWEN and K. EDWARDS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOE L. WEBSTER, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Docket Entry 34.) Plaintiff William B. Reeves opposes the motion. (Docket Entry 36.) For the following reasons, it is recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 22, 2010, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants, Chandra Ransom, Michael Aikens, Kenneth Lawson, K. Edwards and Brian Bowen for violating his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket Entry 2.) The United States Marshal's Service effected service by mail on Defendants on or about April 3, 2010. (Docket Entries 9, 10.) On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff filed a "Declaration for Entry of Default" (Docket Entry 11), and the Clerk of Court issued an Entry of Default against Defendant's for their failure to appear, answer or otherwise plead. (Docket Entry 12.) On October 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment. (Docket Entry 13.) On October 28, 2010, Defendants filed a motion to set aside entry of default and a motion for enlargement of time. (Docket Entries 14, 15.) Following various other procedural events, United States Magistrate Judge L. Patrick Auld of this court found that good cause existed to set aside the Clerk of Court's entry of default, and therefore the court declined to enter a default judgment and permitted the late filing of Defendants' answer. (Docket Entry 27.) By order filed November 9, 2011, United States District Judge James A. Beaty adopted Judge Auld's recommended conclusions, denying Plaintiff's motion for a default judgment and granting Defendants' motion to set aside the entry of default. (Docket Entry 30.)

Plaintiff is seeking criminal charges against Defendants, a declaratory judgment, an injunction and $2.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages against each Defendant. (Compl. at 4-5, Docket Entry 2.) Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment on November 29, 2012. (Docket Entry 34.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This action arises out of an incident in 2009 at the Scotland Correctional Institution ("Scotland") where Plaintiff was housed. Plaintiff alleges that on May 10, 2009 he was removed from his assigned job as a cook in the prison kitchen and was escorted by Defendant Aikens, a correctional officer at Scotland, to the red-unit lock-up. (Compl. at 4, Docket Entry 2.)[1] Plaintiff asked Defendant Aikens to make sure that the prison staff brought Plaintiff's special wash clothing, extra mattresses, pillows, blankets and shoes which had previously been prescribed by the medical staff at Scotland. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that several hours later Defendant Bowen brought one mattress and some personal letters and papers to Plaintiff's cell. In response to Plaintiff's question about his medically-ordered extra mattress, pillows, blankets and his medically prescribed shoes, Defendant Bowen stated that he would "look into getting all of Plaintiff's medically ordered items." ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, Defendant Bowen later told him that "there was no paperwork from medical for Plaintiff to have any of [the] items" and that "Plaintiff could face disciplinary action for having extra stuff in his cell." ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ransom, the assistant unit manager, told him that she had not seen "anything, " but that she had tried to locate Plaintiff's clothing. ( Id. at 3-4.)

According to Plaintiff, Defendants Edwards and Bowen were responsible for inventorying and packing Plaintiff's belongings. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Edwards and Bowen intentionally stored Plaintiff's medically prescribed shoes in storage while Plaintiff was in segregation. ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that he submitted several requests and grievances asking for his items to be returned to him. ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges that he has a skin condition which requires special clothing, bedding and detergent. In his complaint, Plaintiff states that

For 17 days or more, Plaintiff had to continue to suffer with pains of full skin irritation over his body. [Due] to the stuff the clothes are cleaned with. Pain from not having his extra mattress and pillows [due] to his severe medical needs. Plaintiff had shown staff his copies of the written medical doctor's orders.... Defendants [have] shown deliberate indifference in refusing to follow doctor's orders to treat Plaintiff's medical needs while housed on administrative segregation.

( Id. at 5.)

Defendants' summary judgment materials include the pleadings and all attachments thereto, and the affidavits of Defendants Bowen and Ransom, with attached exhibits, and the affidavit of Stephanie Leach, a Registered Nurse and Risk Manager/Standards Director for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Correction ("DOC"), along with related exhibits. Defendants' summary judgment materials show that on May 10, 2009, Plaintiff was placed in segregation. (Affidavit of Brian Bowen ¶ 4, Br. Supp. Mot. for Summ. J., Docket Entry 35-1; Affidavit of Chandra Ransom, Docket Entry 35-2.) Two Inmate Personal Property forms were completed by Officers Bowen and Edwards. One form was for property that would be stored until Plaintiff was released from segregation and the second form was to identify the property Plaintiff received. Plaintiff signed the forms acknowledging that the inventory was complete, accurate and that the property was received in the condition noted on the forms. (Ransom Aff., Ex. C.) On May 22, 2009, presumably after Plaintiff was released from segregation, Plaintiff acknowledged by his signature that the listed stored and personal property had been returned to him. (Ransom Aff., ¶ 10, Ex. D.)

According to Defendant Bowen, when he and Defendant Edwards took Plaintiff's personal items to him in segregation, Plaintiff inquired about his special wash, an extra mattress, pillows and blankets. (Bowen Aff. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff gave the officers an expired DC-490 form showing that he items had been medically prescribed. (Ransom Aff. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff had two pairs of Dr. 2 shoes, one older and one a newer pair; he had to choose which pair he wanted because inmates in segregation are allowed only one pair. (Bowen Aff. ¶ 9; Ransom Aff. ¶ 11.)

Under DOC policy, inmates with special wash clothing must bring their clothes with them when they are moved to segregation. If an inmate does not arrive in the segregation unit with his special wash clothes, the unit will contact the warehouse personnel to have a special wash laundry bag prepared for the inmate and sent to the segregation unit. (Ransom Aff. ¶ 6.) Defendant Bowen stated that he and Defendant Edwards were unaware that Plaintiff had orders for special wash. When they returned to Plaintiffs cell, his clothes had been sent to the laundry and mixed in with other inmates' clothing. Bowen Aff. ¶ 8.) According to Defendant Ransom, "[t]he placement of [Plaintiff's] special wash clothing with other inmates clothing was human error." (Ransom Aff. ¶ 5.) Defendant ...


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