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Doctor v. North Carolina Department of Public Safety

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina

September 29, 2017



          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 15), and on his motion for entry of default judgment, (Doc. No. 18). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 6).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Obadiah Doctor has filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the following in their official and individual capacities: Lanesboro Correctional Institution (“CI”) Superintendent David Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent Ken Beaver, Unit Manager Dennis Marshall, Sergeant C. Parker, Corrections Officers Melin and Hoyle, and Nurse Harris.

         Liberally construing the Amended Complaint and accepting the allegations as true, Plaintiff, who is wheelchair-bound, was escorted from his cell at around 9:00 AM for a disciplinary hearing on February 10, 2014. He was placed in his hallway's holding cage in full restraints. He was talking and joking with a nurse when Parker came to the hallway and yelled at Plaintiff to stop talking. Plaintiff responded he does not like Parker and was not going to shut up. Parker said he is tired of Plaintiff's mouth and told Melin to help take Plaintiff where he needs to go and get him back to his cell. (Doc. No. 15 at 4). Parker and Melin got Plaintiff out of the holding cage and Parker began pushing Plaintiff's wheelchair forcefully and intentionally bumped Plaintiff into each doorway on the way to the disciplinary hearing room. Plaintiff became angry and exchanged words with Parker.

         As Plaintiff was being escorted back to his cell by Parker and Melin, Marshall came out of his office and said “There you go! Since you want to squirt people with shit back there, I got something for you.” (Doc. No. 15 at 4). Plaintiff thinks Marshall was angry with Plaintiff for harassing another inmate who wrote to the superintendent stating the shift officers kept allowing it to happen and did nothing. (Doc. No. 15 at 5).

         Back in the cell, Parker acted like he could not get one of Plaintiff's leg shackles off and intentionally scraped Plaintiff's ankle and leg. Plaintiff became agitated, said he knew what Parker was trying to do and did not want Parker touching him, and asked Melin to release his restraints. Plaintiff turned towards Melin and moved his leg towards her as she moved towards Plaintiff. Parker said “No! I got it” and snatched the shackle which lifted Plaintiff's leg straight up and flipped him out of his wheelchair, causing him to hit his head on the side of his cell door. (Doc. No. 15 at 6). Parker wrapped the shackle chain around Plaintiff's leg and placed Plaintiff in an ankle lock as if trying to break it, before throwing his leg down. Melin stood back and watched as Plaintiff cried out. Plaintiff tried to roll out of his wheelchair but Parker grabbed his shirt and forcefully pushing him down. (Doc. No. 15 at 7). Parker called for staff assistance and Officer Sturdivant was the first to arrive. Parker told Sturdivant to finish taking Plaintiff out of restraints and put him back in his cell. Marshall arrived with Hoyle and yelled to “pick his ass up and bring him to the hallway” and to leave the wheelchair. (Id.). Parker picked up Plaintiff by his dreadlock/arm, Hoyle picked him up by his legs, and they threw him into a hallway holding cage in full restraints. Parker ripped out three of Plaintiff's dreadlocks and threw them in Plaintiff's face before closing the door.

         Plaintiff had severe pain in his leg, back, arms and neck so he began yelling for a nurse. Nurses Julius and Harris came out of their room and Julius asked what happened. However, Marshall told the nurses to “ignore him” and instructed Parker and Hoyle to removed Plaintiff from his hallway. Parker and Hoyle carried Plaintiff outside to the recreation yard, threw him on the ground, kicked and spit on him, and left him there. (Doc. No. 15 at 8). Plaintiff was left facedown on the ground in full restraints for approximately two hours. During that time, Harris came outside with Officer Sturdivant to observe Plaintiff through the gate while Plaintiff was on the ground in pain. Harris refused to have Sturdivant open the gate. Despite Plaintiff's complaints of pain and need of medical attention, Harris stated “you look alright to me” and left. (Id.). Later Sturdivant came to get Plaintiff with his wheelchair and took him back to his cell. Plaintiff was forced to stay in full restraints 48 hours and, during the first 24 hours, he was not given a two-hour break pursuant to policy. No use-of-force policy reporting was used that would have included pictures, a medical examination, and Plaintiff's statement.

         Plaintiff's personal property including headphones, hygiene products, magazines, legal and personal mail, family pictures, and books, was seized and scattered all over an empty office floor in the hallway. (Doc. No. 15 at 8-9). Defendants failed to complete a DC-160 inmate inventory sheet pursuant to policy.

         When Plaintiff was let out of full restraints a couple days later, he attempted to hang himself. He was sent to medical where he was placed on observation and told mental health what had happened and who was responsible for his sudden anxiety and depression. (Doc. No. 15 at10). After Plaintiff was released he wrote a sick call request explaining his pain for use of force. Dr. Hasan ordered a muscle relaxer for Plaintiff's pain and some x-rays. Parker was working the day Plaintiff was supposed to get his x-rays done, and Plaintiff told Parker he did not want Parker touching him. Marshall came out and said “that's a refusal” so Plaintiff never received his x-rays. (Doc. No. 15 at 10).

         Marshall and Parker continued harassing Plaintiff and refused to give him his personal property. Two weeks later, Plaintiff overdosed and tried strangling himself. He was put on medical observation for nine days. Plaintiff's psychologist told Plaintiff that he did not want Plaintiff to go back to the unit with so much going on so he sent Plaintiff to Central Prison's mental health where he stayed for six months.

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, nominal, punitive, and compensatory damages, costs, and any additional relief the Court deems just, proper and equitable.


         Plaintiff has filed a “Declaration for Entry of Default Judgment, ” (Doc. No. 18), in which he argues that the Defendants were served in January 2017, and have failed to respond. Contrary to Plaintiff's contention, no defendants have yet been served. His motion for default judgment is therefore denied.


         A “court shall dismiss [a prisoner's] case at any time if the court determines that ... the action or appeal ... fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)). In its frivolity review, a court must determine ...

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