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McNeill v. Norris

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

April 6, 2017

JAMES C. MCNEILL, Plaintiff,
v.
LIEUTENANT NORRIS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. DEVER III Chief United States District Judge

         On April 11, 2016, Magistrate Judge Numbers issued a Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R") [D.E. 10]. In that M&R, Judge Numbers recommended allowing James C. McNeill's ("McNeill") excessive-force claim against defendants Lieutenant Norris and Correctional Officer Nichols and McNeill's deliberate-indifference claim against defendants Nurse Camesha Shepard and Nurse Collins to proceed. However, Judge Numbers also recommended that the court dismiss McNeill's claims against defendants Lieutenant Jhon Juehrs, Dr. Ronald Sumners, and Warden Carlton B. Joyner. On May 4, 2016, McNeill filed objections to the M&R [D.E. 11].

         "The Federal Magistrates Act requires a district court to make a de novo determination of those portions of the magistrate judge's report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co.. 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (emphasis, alteration, and quotation omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Absent a timely objection, "a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Diamond. 416 F.3d at 315 (quotation omitted). Moreover, the court need not conduct a de novo review where a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Qrpiano v. Johnson. 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see Wells v. Shriners Hosp.. 109 F.3d 198, 200-01 (4th Cir. 1997). "Section 636(b)(1) does not countenance a form of generalized objection to cover all issues addressed by the magistrate judge; it contemplates that a party's objection to a magistrate judge's report be specific and particularized, as the statute directs the district court to review only those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." United States v. Midgette. 478 F.3d 616, 621 (4th Cir. 2007) (emphasis and quotation omitted).

         McNeill's objections reiterate arguments stated in his complaint, and his objections do not meaningfully rebut the M&R. Compare Compl. [D.E. 1], with [D.E. 11]. Because McNeill's boilerplate objections fail to meaningfully address the M&R, de novo review is not required. See. e.g.. Wells. 109 F.3d at 200-01; Qrpiano. 687 F.2d at 47.

         Alternatively, McNeill's objections lack merit. Judge Numbers recommended dismissing McNeill's deliberate-indifference claim against defendant Sumners. The Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from acting with deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs. See Estelle v. Gamble. 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). To establish deliberate indifference, an inmate must allege both that he experienced a deprivation that was "objectively sufficiently serious" and "that subjectively the officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind." De'Lonta v. Angelone. 330 F.3d 630, 634 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration, emphasis, and quotation omitted). To satisfy the subjective prong of the Eighth Amendment test, a plaintiff must establish that a defendant acted with deliberate indifference. Gravson v. Peed. 195 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir. 1999). Prison officials demonstrate deliberate indifference to a serious medical need by completely failing to consider an inmate's complaints or by acting intentionally to delay or deny the prisoner access to adequate medical care. Estelle. 429 U.S. at 104-05. In his complaint, McNeil concedes that defendant Sumners provided him medical treatment. See, e.g.. Compl. at 9-10. McNeill's claim against Sumners amounts to a disagreement in the course of treatment prescribed by Sumners, and allegations of negligence. These allegations fail to state a claim. See Estelle. 429 U.S. at 105-06; Scinto v. Stansberry, 841 F.3d219, 225-26 (4th Cir. 2016); Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2014); Russell v. Sheffer. 528 F.2d 318, 318-19 (4th Cir. 1975) (per curiam).

         Next, Judge Numbers recommended dismissing McNeill's claim that defendant Juehrs violated his right to due process. Specifically, McNeill contends that he was improperly placed in administrative segregation for 60 days based on an incident Juehrs investigated. Compl. at 1. The Due Process Clause applies when government action deprives an individual of a legitimate liberty or property interest. See Morrissey v. Brewer. 408 U.S. 471, 481 (1972); Incumaa v. Stirling. 791 F.3d 517, 526-27 (4th Cir. 2015). To retain a liberty interest in avoiding a particular condition of confinement, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the confinement imposed an atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. See Sandin v. Conner. 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). Placement in administrative segregation, by itself, does not create an atypical or significant hardship in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. See Incumaa. 791 F.3d at 527; Prieto v. Clarke. 780 F.3d 245, 249-51 (4th Cir. 2015); McNeill v. Currie. 84 F.App'x 276, 277 (4th Cir. 2003) (per curiam) (unpublished). Rather, inmates must make a greater showing of hardship in order to meet this requirement. See, e.g.. Incumaa. 791 F.3d at 527; Prieto. 780 F.3d at 249-51; Beverati v. Smith. 120 F.3d 500, 504 (4th Cir. 1997). Here, McNeill failed to allege conditions of confinement that were significantly more onerous than those of the general population.

         Finally, Judge Numbers recommended dismissing McNeill's claims against Warden Joyner. To the extent McNeill asserts that Joyner inadequately responded to his grievances, such an allegation fails to state a claim. See, e.g,, Adams v. Rice. 40 F.3d. 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994). Alternatively, McNeill's claims against Joyner fail because Joyner was named solely in his supervisory capacity. See, $&,, Shaw v. Stroud. 13 F.3d 791, 798-99 (4th Cir. 1994).

         In sum, after reviewing the M&R, the record, and McNeill's objections, the court is satisfied that there is no clear error on the face of the record. Accordingly, McNeill's objections [D.E. 11] are OVERRULED, and the court adopts the conclusions in the M&R [D.E. 10]. McNeill's claims against defendants Lieutenant Jhon Juehrs, Dr. Ronald Sumners, and Warden Joyner are DISMISSED. McNeill may proceed with his excessive-force claim against defendants Lieutenant Norris and Correctional Officer Nichols and his deliberate-indifference claim against defendants Nurse Camesha Shepard and Nurse Collins. The clerk shall manage the action pursuant to Standing Order ...


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