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Steele v. Robinson

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

September 15, 2017

FNU ROBINSON, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendant Antonio Henderson, (Doc. No. 31), and on Plaintiff's two separate Motions to Strike Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. Nos. 34, 36).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Pro se Plaintiff Brandon Gerald Steele, a North Carolina state court inmate currently incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, filed this action on June 8, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an incident occurring on February 25, 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution in Polkton, North Carolina. Plaintiff named as Defendants Antonio Henderson, Renesha Robinson, and Lori Diamond, all alleged to be correctional officers at Lanesboro at all relevant times. Plaintiff alleges that officers Henderson and Robinson used excessive force against him and that officer Diamond was deliberately indifferent to the use of force, all in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. No. 1). As relief, Plaintiff seeks a “preliminary and permanent injunction ordering the Defendants to cease their physical violence and torture towards Plaintiff, ” as well as $40, 000 in compensatory damages against each Defendant jointly and severally, and $30, 000 in punitive damages. (Id. at 6).

         On initial screening, this Court allowed Plaintiff's claims to go forward against Defendants Henderson and Robinson, but the Court dismissed Diamond as a party. (Doc. No. 6). Defendant Robinson, who is no longer employed with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (“NCDPS”), was served but did not answer or otherwise respond. On August 24, 2017, this Court entered a default judgment against Robinson as to Plaintiff's excessive force claim against her. (Doc. No. 47).

         On March 24, 2017, Defendant Henderson filed the pending summary judgment motion. On April 6, 2017, and then again on May 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed two separate motions to strike various paragraphs in Defendant's summary judgment motion. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks to have the Court strike the portions of the summary judgment motion that refer to Plaintiff's underlying conviction and disciplinary infractions that he has incurred while in prison. Plaintiff contends that his criminal history and infractions are irrelevant to this excessive force action and are inadmissible under North Carolina Rule of Evidence 802. See (Doc. Nos. 34, 36).

         On April 10, 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. 35). Plaintiff filed a response to the summary judgment motion on May 1, 2017, along with one of his motions to strike. (Doc. No. 36). Therefore, this matter is ripe for disposition.

         B. Factual Background

         1. The Alleged Excessive Force Incident and the Summary Judgment Evidence

         a. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In his Complaint and his summary judgment materials, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Robinson and Henderson used excessive force against him on February 25, 2015, at approximately 8:15 p.m., while he was an inmate at Lanesboro. He alleges the following facts in his Complaint and in his sworn affidavit in response to the summary judgment motion:

         On the night of 2-25-15 I was being escorted to the shower by Defendant Robinson when a verbal altercation occurred between the two of us. She threaten[ed] to return and assault me when she pulled me from the shower. She returned with Defendant Henderson a short time later to pull me out of the shower. Defendant Henderson placed the handcuffs on me and opened the shower door. The second I stepped out of the shower Officer Robinson began assaulting me and Defendant Henderson placed me in a choke hold and slammed me onto the concrete floor. While being held on the floor by Defendant Henderson, Defendant Robinson stomped and kicked me until other officers forcefully pulled her off me and restrained and carried her out of the block. I did not make any lunging move or assault anyone. I suffer[ed] injury to my lower back and I suffer[ed] mentally and emotionally from the incident.

(Doc. No. 36 at 16; see also Doc. No. 1 at 6-7). Plaintiff alleges that a nurse came to assess his injuries that evening, but he refused medical treatment because he was afraid to leave his cell. Plaintiff received medical treatment the following day. (Doc. No. 1 at 7). Plaintiff alleges that he suffered injuries to his lower back as a result of Defendant Henderson placing him in a chokehold and slamming him to the concrete floor. (Doc. No. 33-1 at 6).

         b. Defendant's Summary ...

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