United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary
Judgment by Defendant Jenny Griffith, (Doc. No. 28).
Plaintiff Dustin Jones, a former North Carolina prisoner,
filed this action on July 6, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging claims of excessive force and failure
to protect against the moving Defendant Jenny Griffith, a
Henderson County Sheriff's Office deputy at all relevant
times. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff also purported to bring a
claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs
against Darla Dunaway, a nurse at the jail. Finally,
Plaintiff also purported to name as a defendant the Henderson
County Detention Center (“the jail”). On October
14, 2015, after initial review, this Court dismissed the jail
as a Defendant, held that Plaintiff stated a claim against
Griffith for excessive force and failure to protect only, and
ordered Plaintiff to add more factual allegations concerning
personal participation by Dunaway. (Doc. No. 7). The Court
ultimately dismissed all claims against Dunaway on July 5,
2016. (Doc. No. 20). Plaintiff's only remaining claims
are against movant Defendant Griffith for excessive force and
failure to protect.
December 9, 2016, Defendant filed the pending summary
judgment motion. (Doc. No. 28). On December 12, 2016, 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. 29).
Plaintiff did not respond to the summary judgment motion, and
the time to do so has passed.
The Alleged Excessive Force Incident and the Summary
Plaintiff did not present any evidence on summary judgment,
the Court has before it only the allegations made in the
Complaint. Plaintiff alleged in the Complaint that on May 16,
I . . . [w]as attacked in my cell at Henderson County
Detention Center. I am a keep away on 23-hour lock down. I
was in my cell and had just finished my lunch tray and was at
my cell door waiting to place my tray outside it. They do not
allow inmates to be out during lunch. Only after lunch to
pick up trays. On this day they had let some inmates out
before we put our trays out . . . . They watch our doors
opening them one at a time so we can place our trays outside
of them. [Inmate Gordon] had walked to my door and was pacing
back and forward in front of it waiting on them to open it.
When they opened it [the other inmate] leaped in my cell and
started attacking me by punching me in the head and face.
While watching they close[d] the door behind him where I
cannot escape the attack. Finally they come to the door open
it and shoot me with a tazer. They start tazing me while I am
still being attacked. After finally stopping the attack the
nurse checks me deciding immediately I need to go to the
nearest emergency room. While taking me out they inform me
that it was a rule that I had to be charged with assault and
battery, lose my canteen and visitations for 2 weeks.
I get to the hospital . . . where the doctors and nurses have
to glue my eyebrow back together.
Both my eyes were black and my right eye was swelled shut.
The doctor requested me seeing a follow-up with a specialist
for the wounds and to check my vision which I never got. It
took weeks for my face to heal but the trauma and fear from
the attack never has. Every time the doors open and close I
am traumatized. I can't sleep or eat well. These doors
open all day and night and are very noisy. I stay in fear and
am very jumpy. They later charged me with assault and battery
. . . . It was dismissed but is still on my record where I
was charged and looks very bad on my court case and I am
still traumatized and remain in fear. And I am permanently
scarred on my face.
(Doc. No. 1 at 6).
Defendant's Summary Judgment Materials
support of the summary judgment motion, Defendant Jenny
Griffith has submitted as exhibits excerpts from
Plaintiff's deposition and Defendant's own sworn
declaration. (Doc. No. 28-3: Pl.'s Dep.; Doc. No.
28-4: Griffith Decl.). Defendant's evidence on summary
judgment shows that Plaintiff was incarcerated in the jail in
March 2015 after being arrested for assault with a deadly
weapon for shooting someone. (Doc. No. 28-3 at 11: 24-25; 12:
1-4, 19-21). Due to the nature of these charges, Plaintiff
was placed in the Special Housing Unit, where he was let out
of his cell for one hour a day and had no contact with other
inmates. (Id. at 15: 12-17, 20- 24). Griffith was a
deputy sheriff in the detention division and was assigned to
supervise inmates at the jail. (Doc. No. 28-4 at ¶ 3).
Inmate Michael Gordon was also incarcerated in special
housing. (Doc. No. 28-3 at 15: 22-25; 16: 1). Before May 16,
2015, Plaintiff and Gordon were “friends” and
“old acquaintances, ” whose parents went to
church together, and who Plaintiff characterized as a
“good friend, ” up until he was assaulted by
Gordon in jail. (Id. at 13: 18-20; 14: 1-21). During
their time in jail together from March until May 16, 2015,
they saw each other and said “what's up or
something like that” without any altercations.
(Id. at 16: 21-24; 42: 21-25; 43: 1-2).
16, 2015, Plaintiff had just finished dinner in his cell, and
he was waiting to have his cell door unlocked to put his tray
When Plaintiff finished his meal, he was “standing in
his cell waiting to kick [his] tray out, ” and
Plaintiff observed Gordon walking in front of Plaintiff's
cell. (Id. at 43: 6-21). When Plaintiff's cell
door opened to allow him to put his tray out, Gordon jumped
in the cell. (Id. at 13: 24-25). Gordon then started
hitting Plaintiff in the left side of the head. (Id.
at 25: 10-16). In order to defend himself, Plaintiff grabbed
Gordon and swung him around behind Plaintiff. (Id.
at 25: 17-22). During the altercation, ...