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Ballard v. Daniels

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

February 5, 2019

Robert S. Ballard, Plaintiff,
Dennis Daniels, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Robert S. Ballard filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”). This matter is currently before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment (D.E. 38). After reviewing the parties' submissions, the undersigned recommends that the district court allow the motion in part and deny the motion in part.

         I. Procedural Background

         Ballard filed his complaint in June 2016, describing actions that took place at Maury Correctional Institution (“Maury”) (D.E. 1).[1] In March 2017 United States District Judge James C. Dever III dismissed Ballard's ADA claims and requests for injunctive relief (D.E. 11). Judge Dever also directed Ballard to particularize the allegations relating to his § 1983 claims. Id. at 6.

         Ballard filed an amended complaint in May 2017 (D.E. 16). Except for Defendants Dennis Daniels and R. Watson, Ballard says he is suing defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Id. at 3-6. Judge Dever reviewed the amended complaint, reiterating the frivolity of Ballard's ADA claims and requests for injunctive relief (D.E. 17). Judge Dever allowed Ballard to proceed with “his section 1983 cell-condition claims against defendants Daniels, Watson, Moore, Shields, Mullins, and Goodman, and with his section 1983 claim that he was left to lay on the floor for several days against defendants Officer Taylor and Nurse Magana.” Id. at 3.

         Defendants filed this motion for summary judgment in May 2018 (D.E. 38). The motion seeks dismissal of ADA claims already dismissed by Judge Dever. See Def. Mem. at 1, D.E. 39. The Defendants spend little time on Ballard's Eighth Amendment claims. To the extent they do address the Eighth Amendment claims, they argue that they entitled to a judgment in their favor under the doctrines of qualified, sovereign, and Eleventh Amendment immunities. Ballard filed many responses to the motion (D.E. 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50), defendants replied (D.E. 51), and Ballard sur-replied (D.E. 52).

         II. Factual Background

         Ballard, who is confined to a wheelchair, alleges that he correctional officials placed him in a non-handicapped cell for 45 days as part of a disciplinary infraction. Am. Compl. at 7, D.E. 16. Ballard alleges that he fell out of his wheelchair onto the concrete floor and laid there for several days after no one assisted him back into his wheelchair. Id. at 7. Ballard injured his left hip during this fall. Id. Ballard also alleges that he was exposed to unconstitutional conditions of confinement because the bathrooms and showers were not wheelchair-accessible. Id. at 7-8. Finally, Ballard alleges that the cell was “not . . . cleaned in 45 days, ” and he was “forced to lay on . . . the same dirty sheets for 45 days.” Id. at 8.

         III. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when an examination of the pleadings, affidavits, and other proper discovery materials before the court shows that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, ” thus entitling the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 656-57 (2014). In making this determination, “the nonmoving party's evidence is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in that party's favor.” News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999)); accord Tolan, 134 S.Ct. at 1866.

         The movant carries the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). And a factual dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. The movant discharges this burden by identifying “an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. In response, the non-movant must identify specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 323. In so doing, the non-movant may rely on a verified complaint when allegations in the document are based on personal knowledge. Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991). Conclusory allegations and speculation do not suffice. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002). If the non-movant fails to introduce evidence contradicting a fact supported by the movant's evidence, the court may “consider the fact undisputed for summary judgment purposes.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). If the non-movant fails to meet his burden, summary judgment must be granted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         B. ADA Claims

         As noted, defendants seek summary judgment on Ballard's ADA claims. Judge Dever has already dismissed these claims. (D.E. 11, 16). Thus, the district court should deny ...

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