United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
ROBERT J. CONRAD, Jr., Chief District Judge.
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant Randy Teague. (Doc. No. 45).
A. Procedural Background
Pro se Plaintiff William Andrew Littleton is a North Carolina state court inmate currently incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, after having been convicted of first-degree murder in On slow County on October 12, 2010, and sentenced to life in prison. On June 20, 2011, Plaintiff filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming the following four persons as Defendants: Gerald Branker,  Warden of Central Prison at all relevant times; Randy Teague, Assistant Superintendent of Marion Correctional Institution at all relevant times; Robert Lewis, Director of Prisons with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety ("NCDPS") at all relevant times; and Sid Harkleroad, Superintendent of Marion Correctional Institution at all relevant times. Plaintiff contends in this action that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, North Carolina. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
On January 12, 2012, the Court entered an order on initial review dismissing Gerald Branker as a Defendant and denying Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel. (Doc. No. 5). On March 12, 2012, Defendants Harkleroad, Teague, and Lewis filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. No. 19). On August 7, 2012, this Court granted the motion to dismiss as to Defendants Lewis and Harkleroad, but denied the motion as to Defendant Teague. (Doc. No. 29). On August 21, 2012, Defendant Teague filed an answer to the Complaint. (Doc. No. 30). On May 17, 2013, this Court issued a scheduling order requiring the parties to file dispositive motions by October 15, 2013. (Doc. No. 33). On October 29, 2013, after receiving an extension of time, Defendant Teague filed the pending summary judgment motion. (Doc. No. 45). On December 3, 2013, this Court entered an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison , 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the requirements for filing a response to the motion for summary judgment and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 53). Plaintiff filed his response on December 12, 2013. (Doc. No. 54).
B. Factual Background
1. Plaintiff's Allegations
According to Plaintiff, while housed at Marion Correctional Facility, on or about September 22, 2010, prison staff fed him a "harsh and spicy" diet, which caused him to suffer rectal bleeding. (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff states that he reported his condition to staff and tried eating a bland diet, but staff continued to add spices to his food. (Id.). Plaintiff further alleges that he is allergic to peanuts and that his allergy is clearly indicated on the front of his medical file. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that, despite knowledge of Plaintiff's allergy, staff served Plaintiff a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on or about September 29, 2010. (Id.). When Plaintiff reported that he could not eat the sandwich due to his allergy, staff allegedly told Plaintiff to eat the sandwich or go without a meal. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he ate the sandwich and then suffered an allergic reaction for which he was taken to Marion County Hospital to be treated. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that the day after his treatment, prison staff again served Plaintiff peanut butter in an attempt to kill him. (Id.).
As to his allegations against Defendant Teague, Plaintiff claims that he has on two occasions written grievances alleging that Defendant Teague has willfully left information off of his diet plan, which led to Plaintiff being served peanut butter. (Doc. No. 1 at 13). Plaintiff further claims that he is allergic to peanut butter and that Defendant Teague's actions caused Plaintiff to be hospitalized. (Id.). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Teague's actions have caused Plaintiff to be served spicy foods which caused Plaintiff rectal bleeding. (Id. at 15). Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Teague knew about his problems, but that "nothing has been done." (Id.).
Additionally, on or about December 4, 2010, Plaintiff suffered a swollen foot and leg. (Id.). Prison staff administered a "test" to Plaintiff, the results of which were normal, and administered him "some meds." (Id.). Plaintiff reports that his leg still hurts because prison staff failed to treat the underlying cause of his condition, which are back problems. (Id.). Plaintiff reports that he has seen an outside physician who performed an MRI on his back and that he needs surgery. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, his nerve is "almost cut completely off" and that, if he does not have surgery soon, he will lose all feeling in his right leg. (Id.). On or about December 19, 2010, Plaintiff suffered swelling in his hand, for which prison staff administered him "non aspirin" but no further medical treatment. (Id.). The next day the swelling in Plaintiff's hand increased and he experienced muscle spasms, which caused him to tear a muscle in his left arm. (Id.). Plaintiff reports that a doctor at Catawba County Hospital told him he was "left too long" before he got any medical treatment. (Id.).
2. Defendant Teague's Summary Judgment Materials
Defendant Teague has submitted as part of his summary judgment materials Plaintiff's medical documents, grievances filed by Plaintiff while at Marion, and Teague's own affidavit. See (Doc. No. 47 at 1-8: Teague Affidavit; Doc. No. 47 at 9-93: Exhibits A to M, attached to Teague Affidavit). Defendant Teague has also submitted various correspondence records in which he responded to Plaintiff's multiple complaints in 2010 and 2011. See (Id. at 6-7, ¶¶ 18-19, 20, 21; Id. at 22-55, 77, 81-89). In these correspondence records, Defendant Teague communicated with Plaintiff regarding his medical care and diet, relaying information that was provided to Teague by medical staff or food service management to Plaintiff. (Id.).
Defendant Teague's summary judgment materials show that, while incarcerated at Marion during 2010 and 2011, Plaintiff submitted multiple grievances regarding his medical care and diet. (Doc. No. 47 at 22-63: Exhibits C to I). According to the grievance records, Plaintiff complained on multiple occasions that there were spices in his diet and that he had been served food that caused him medical distress, which according to Plaintiff included rectal bleeding and diverticulitis. (Id.). On each occasion, Unit Management investigated Plaintiff's complaints and, with input from the medical unit and food service management, determined that Plaintiff was receiving the proper medical diet. (Id.). For instance, on December 3, 2010, Marion staff explained to Plaintiff, in response to Grievance 3730H104161, that Plaintiff had been placed on a "MNT #3 (2500 Cal.)" diet by Dr. Hossain at Central Prison on October 13, 2010, before Plaintiff was sent to Marion. (Id. at 25-26). Marion staff further explained that Plaintiff needed to submit a sick call request if he wished to have his diet changed to a "Bland Diet, " one of the diets specified in the NCDPS' approved diets for prisoners. (Id. ...