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Delgado v. Solomon

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

February 21, 2019




         This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment (DE 45), filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The motion was fully briefed and thus the issues raised are ripe for decision. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         On July 1, 2016, plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants failed to protect him from an assault by other inmates, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. On December 6, 2016, the court conducted its frivolity review of plaintiff's complaint and allowed the matter to proceed. Defendants filed answer on April 7, 2017, denying plaintiff's allegations and asserting various affirmative defenses. On May 23, 2017, the court entered case management order governing discovery and dispositive motions practice. The parties completed discovery on or about November 17, 2017.

         On May 18, 2018, defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. In support of the motion, defendants filed memorandum of law, statement of material facts, and appendix. Defendants' appendix included affidavit from third-party Kimberly Grande, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's (“DPS”) Administrative Remedy Policy, and records from 16 grievances plaintiff appealed to the Inmate Grievance Resolution Board between January, 2013 and February 3, 2017.

         Plaintiff filed response in opposition on June 7, 2018, and attached as supporting materials various grievances he filed during the relevant time frame. Defendants thereafter filed reply in further support of the instant motion, and plaintiff file unauthorized surreply.[1]


         Plaintiff is a state inmate who was incarcerated at the Bertie Correctional Institution during the relevant time period. (Compl. (DE 1) § V).[2] Plaintiff alleges that inmates Marcus Currie, Ivan Harvey, and Travis William assaulted him on November 8, 2015, causing serious injuries. (Id.) Currie, Harvey, and William are allegedly “high ranking” members of certain prison gangs and were housed on the same unit or “dorm” as plaintiff at the time of the assault. (Id.) Defendants Spruill and Cabarrus were the unit manager and assistant unit manager, respectively, on the unit. (Id.)

         On November 8, 2015, plaintiff accompanied William, Currie and Harvey to the back of the dorm to discuss an unidentified issue. (Id.) When plaintiff tried to leave, William grabbed plaintiff by the arm and pulled plaintiff into his cell. (Id.) Currie then hit plaintiff in the back of the head and stabbed him, presumably with a homemade prison weapon. (Id.) As plaintiff fell to the ground, William punched him in the face and stabbed him in his eye with a knife. (I d.) Harvey then kicked and punched plaintiff's head when he was on the floor. (Id.) As a result of the assault, plaintiff suffered multiple bone fractures, a fractured nose, ruptured eardrum, and other injuries. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges defendants Spruill and Cabarrus used the gang members to “police” the dorm, “in a [sic] effort to have them get the block inmates to lock down without the staff having to come in the dorm to lock them down.” (Id.) When plaintiff and other inmates complained about the gang members threatening and assaulting other inmates, defendants Spruill and Cabarrus allegedly informed the gang members plaintiff had filed grievances about the assaults. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges defendants Spruill and Cabarrus “knew that inmates were being threatened and assaulted and turned a blind eye to what was going on” and that “they should have knew [sic] [that allowing gang members to police the unit] was gonna be done through threats and assaults . . . .” (Id.) After the assault, defendant Spruill falsely charged plaintiff with two disciplinary offenses related to the altercation, in an alleged effort to cover up his actions. (Id.)

         Defendant Herring was the superintendent of Bertie Correctional Institution during the relevant time period. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he submitted a grievance directly to defendant Herring about defendants Spruill and Cabarrus's conduct, but defendant Herring did not respond. (Id.) Defendant Solomon is the director of DPS, and defendant Guice is allegedly a “commissioner” within DPS. (Id. § IV). Plaintiff alleges defendants Solomon and Guice are “responsible for what goes on at this prison because they are in charge of this prison . . . .” (Id. § V).

         On February 29, 2016, plaintiff filed a grievance requesting that prison officials provide him with “appropriate and effective medical treatment . . . .” (Ex. K to Grande Aff. (DE 48-12) at 3).[3]The grievance requested that prison officials make plaintiff available to the Bertie County District Attorney “so that I may assist in the prosecution of the prison gang member who attacked me and the [DPS] staff members for whom the gang members were working with and on behalf of.” (Id. at 4). The grievance also requested that prison officials initiate disciplinary proceedings against defendants Spruill, Cabarrus, and others who were allegedly “involved in allowing gang members to police the dorms through threats and violence.” (Id.) Prison officials responded to the grievance by noting staff reviewed the video evidence of the November 8, 2015, assault, and found no evidence that the “incident took place in the manner described in [plaintiff's] complaint” and found “no negligence by staff.” (Id.) Defendants acknowledge that plaintiff appealed this grievance to the Inmate Grievance Resolution Board, the final level of administrative review available at DPS, with final order from the Board issuing May 23, 2016. (Grande Aff. (DE 48-1) ¶¶ 5, 8).


         A. ...

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