United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
T. NUMBERS, II UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Joe Smith, a former state inmate proceeding pro se, commenced
this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is
currently before the court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment (D.E. 18). After reviewing the parties'
submissions, the undersigned recommends that the district
court allow the motion and dismiss Smith's complaint.
asserts that, while he was incarcerated at Harnett
Correctional Institution (“Harnett”), he notified
defendants Cynthia Thornton, Jamie Cobb, and Adrienne Graham
that another inmate, McDuffie, was mentally ill and
“constantly targeting [him] with threats.” Compl.
at 4, D.E. 1. These defendants allegedly ignored Smith's
warnings. Duffie stabbed Smith's wrist in May 2016
seriously injuring him. Id. at 3-4.
also claims that defendant “Dr. Brown” was
deliberately indifferent to the serious injuries he sustained
as a result of the alleged assault. Id. It is not
entirely clear who Smith intends to identify with this label.
At times, Smith describes the actions of Dr. Scott Wesley
Brown, an emergency room doctor. See Compl. at 4,
D.E. 1. In other filings, Smith refers to North Carolina
Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) employee Dr.
Josephine Brown. See Pl. Resp. at 3, D.E. 23. Even
more confusingly, Scott Brown appears to not be a state actor
and Josephine Brown did not work for DPS at the time of this
incident. See, e.g., Agarwal Aff. ¶¶ 5, 7,
D.E. 19-4 (noting that DPS did not employ Josephine Brown
until March 2017 and that Scott Brown never worked for DPS).
did stab Smith. But Smith at first told prison officials that
he injured himself killing an insect in his locker. Graham
Aff. ¶ 15, D.E. 19-5. Prison officials investigated the
incident and determined that Duffie stabbed Smith with a pen
during an altercation in which Duffie accused Smith of
stealing property. Def. Ex. G-2 at 2, D.E. 19-7. Prison
officials eventually found Duffie guilty of a disciplinary
infraction for assaulting another inmate. Id.
received treatment for his injuries at Harnett Central
Hospital Emergency Department. Def. Ex. D, D.E. 19-2. Dr.
Scott Wesley Brown, an employee of Harnett Health System,
provided this treatment. Id. Brown performed a
complete physical examination of Smith. Id. at 3-5.
During this examination, Smith reiterated that he suffered
the injury trying to kill a spider. Id. at 4. Scott
Brown noted that Smith had a one-centimeter laceration on his
left wrist. Id. Scott Brown also observed that Smith
had a “[b]allpoint pen spring and a portion of the ink
cartridge . . . lodged in his forearm.” Id. at
5. Scott Brown tried to remove these items from Smith's
forearm, but he did not succeed. Id. Brown then
sutured the area. Id. Afterward, Scott Brown
consulted with an orthopedist about Smith's injuries.
Id. at 7. Scott Brown also ordered x-rays of
Smith's left wrist. Id. at 2. The x-rays
revealed no abnormalities. Id. Smith eventually
stated he was feeling better and was ready to return to
prison. Id. at 7. Scott Brown prescribed antibiotics
and pain medication to treat Smith's injuries.
Id. Scott Brown directed Smith to follow-up with the
prison orthopedist, and also noted that Smith should have his
sutures removed in seven days. Id. at 8-9. Smith
then returned to Harnett, and Brown was no longer responsible
for his care. See, e.g., Agarwal Aff. ¶ 7, D.E.
19-4; Def. Ex. G-2 at 5, D.E. 19-7 (noting Smith “was
transported to an outside medical facility . . . and returned
the period relevant to this action, Smith filed two
grievances. Def. Ex. A & B, D.E. 17-2 & 17-3. In his
first grievance, Smith stated:
On 10 May 2016, while housed and locked into block 0-3-4, I
was stabbed in the left arm by inmate Lindwood McDuffie. The
officers were not awake due to their negligence in the
performance of their duty because they were sitting at their
desk all [illegible] talkings or whatever, and not making any
rounds. After informing officer Jenkins and Thomas, I
declared an “Emergency” Sick call.
Def. Ex. A at 3, D.E. 17-2.
second grievance says:
Medical has shown a deliberate indifference to my serious
medical need being I've complained about my right finger
injury, and it has taken over 3 1/2 week[s] for this injury
to be addressed by competent medical personnel who are
medically trained to address an injury.
Def. Ex. B at 3, D.E. 17-3. Likewise, a review of prison
records did not reveal any time when Smith sought protective
custody. Graham Aff. ¶¶ 12-14, D.E. 19-5.
filed his complaint in February 2017, and his claims survived
frivolity review. (D.E. 1, 9). Defendants filed this motion
for summary judgment in March 2018, and Smith responded (D.E.
22, 23, 24). In December 2018, the State of North Carolina