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Pickens v. Lewis

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

August 1, 2017

ROBERT LEWIS, et al., Defendants.


         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant John Carbone, (Doc. No. 64).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Brandon Michael Pickens is a North Carolina prisoner currently incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Center in Polkton, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 9 at 2). Plaintiff filed his verified Complaint on December 2, 2015. (Doc. No. 1 at 11). On February 1, 2016, the Court conducted a frivolity review and determined that Plaintiff's claims were not sufficiently pled and, therefore, ordered Plaintiff to amend his Complaint. (Doc. No. 8). On February 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a verified Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 9).

         Plaintiff alleges in the Amended Complaint that he was transferred from Piedmont Correctional Institution (“Piedmont”) to Mountain View Correctional Institution (“MVCI”) on August 13, 2012. (Doc. No. 9 at ¶ 17, p. 4). Plaintiff alleges that, while at MVCI between August 2012 and December 2012, he was denied dental care and that prison medical staff at MCVI refused his requests for certain mental health medications. (Id. at ¶¶ 20, 25, 31, pp. 5, 6, 8). Plaintiff sent a letter dated November 7, 2012, addressed to the Director of Prisons Robert Lewis. (Id. at ¶ 49, p. 12). Plaintiff's letter complained that he was unhappy that medication he had been prescribed while incarcerated at the county jail was not continued upon his incarceration with NCDPS at MCVI. See (Doc. No. 9-31: Ex. EE).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Carbone was the “Director of Mental Health Services for the” NCDPS at all times relevant to the allegations in the Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 9, ¶ 5 at 2). Plaintiff's sole allegations addressing the actions of Defendant Carbone include the following:

… John S. Carbone responded to a letter addressed to Robert Lewis that was dated 11/7/2012, and addressed issues concerning the mental health care I complained about. (See Exhibit EE). John S. Carbone's response stated that there is no guarantee that I would be placed back on my mental health medications and that he was forwarding a forwarding a copy of his letter to staff at MVCI, so that they can address my concerns with me in person. (See Ex. EE). Copies of his response was sent to both Robert Lewis and Ken Yearick. (See Ex. EE). However, Ken Yearick never met with me to address these concerns subsequent to receiving Carbone's response.

(Id. at ¶ 49, pp. 12-13). Plaintiff attached to the Amended Complaint the response letter from Dr. Carbone dated November 26, 2012. (Doc. No. 9-31 at 1). Defendant Carbone states in the letter, in part:

prison clinicians review each inmate for ongoing need for Rx, and having been prescribed certain agents in the past is not a guarantee that they will be continued in the future. With that in mind, I ask that you speak with your mental health providers about these concerns. To that end, I am forwarding a copy of this letter to staff at MVCI so that they can address your thoughts with you further in person.

(Id.). Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant Carbone was directly involved in his medical care in any fashion before or after this correspondence or that Defendant Carbone denied necessary medical care to Plaintiff. See (Doc. No. 9 and attached exhibits). Nor does Plaintiff allege that Defendant Carbone deliberately interfered with his medical care or that Defendant Carbone “tacitly authorized” or was “indifferent” to constitutional violations by his subordinates. Plaintiff's allegations relating to Defendant Carbone involve only the single letter, dated November 26, 2012.

         Defendant Carbone filed the pending summary judgment motion on May 16, 2017, seeking summary judgment against Plaintiff based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies.[1] (Doc. No. 64). On May 26, 2017, 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 summary judgment motion and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 72). Plaintiff filed a response to the summary judgment motion on June 2, 2017. (Doc. No. 74). Defendant filed a reply to Plaintiff's response on June 22, 2017. (Doc. No. 77).


         Summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Id.

         The movant has the “initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations omitted).

         Once this initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in his pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 324. The nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence from which “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the ...

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