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Hyman v. Miller

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

March 4, 2019

DEVIN HYMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU MILLER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Stephanie Miller, John Z. Causby, Kyle Murray, and Phillip Carswell, (Doc. No. 106).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Pro se Plaintiff Devin Hyman, a North Carolina inmate incarcerated at Maury Correctional Institution in Maury, North Carolina, filed this action on April 15, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff alleged that moving Defendants Stephanie Miller, John Z. Causby, Kyle Murray, and Phillip Carswell, correctional officers at Alexander Correctional Institution at all relevant times, used excessive force against him on February 4, 2016, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Alexander.

         On March 16, 2018, Defendants filed the pending summary judgment motion. (Doc. No. 106). On March 21, 2018, this Court entered an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). (Doc. No. 109). Plaintiff filed a response to the summary judgment motion on April 2, 2018, and Defendants filed a Reply on April 9, 2018. (Doc. Nos. 111, 113).

         B. Factual Background

         1. Plaintiff's Allegations

         According to Plaintiff's Complaint, on February 4, 2016, while Plaintiff was housed at Alexander Correctional Institution, he got into a verbal altercation with Defendant Miller. (Doc. No. 1 at 3-4). Defendant Miller then discharged a single burst of pepper spray. (Id.). Plaintiff struck Defendant Miller with a closed fist before additional correctional staff secured him. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that after he was fully secured, Defendants Miller, Murray, and Causby continued to punch, kick, and knee Plaintiff in the face and upper body. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that, after being escorted to the shower for decontamination of the pepper spray, Defendant Murray stomped his face into the shower floor. (Id.). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Carswell kicked Plaintiff's side while he was in full restraints in the shower, and that Defendant Causby repeatedly kneed Plaintiff in his side and upper body.[1] (Id.).

         Plaintiff claims to continue to suffer from head injuries, major headaches, light-headedness, and vision loss as a result of the excessive force incident. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff also claims emotional injury and “emotional tremor, ” which require medications. (Id.). Plaintiff purports to bring claims against Defendants for excessive force in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff seeks $75, 000 in damages. (Id. at 4).

         2. Defendants' Summary Judgment Materials

         In support of the summary judgment motion, Defendants rely on the sworn affidavits of Defendant Miller, Defendant Causby, non-party R. Preston Townsend, and non-party Jeffrey Duncan, along with exhibits, including videotaped surveillance footage of the alleged excessive force incident that occurred outside of the DHO.[2] Defendants' summary judgment evidence shows the following:

         On February 4, 2016, Alexander officers attempted to bring Plaintiff to the Disciplinary Hearing Office (“DHO”). (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 5: Miller Aff.; Doc. No. 107-3 at ¶ 5: Causby Aff.; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶¶ 5-6: Townsend Aff.). Plaintiff refused to enter the DHO. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 6; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶ 7). Defendant Miller stepped out of the DHO into the hallway to see if the officers needed assistance. Alexander Unit Manager Townsend instructed Defendant Miller to cuff Plaintiff and take him to Restrictive Housing. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 7; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶ 8). Plaintiff had indicated that he wanted to go on Self-Injurious Behavior (“SIB”) precautions because he had thoughts of hurting himself. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 8; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶ 9; Doc. No. 107-3 at ¶ 5). Defendant Miller informed Plaintiff that if he wanted to go on SIB precautions, he would have to be placed in hand restraints. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 9).

         Defendant Miller told Plaintiff to submit to restraints, and Plaintiff refused. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 10; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶ 9; Doc. No. 107-3 at ¶ 5). Defendant Miller then pulled over a plastic chair and ordered Plaintiff to sit in the chair and submit to handcuffs. Plaintiff continued to refuse to submit to hand restraints. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶¶ 11-13; Doc. No. 107-2 at ¶ 10). At that time, Defendant Miller administered a short burst of pepper spray to Plaintiff's face. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 14; Doc. No. 107-3 at ¶ 7). Plaintiff lunged at Defendant Miller and swung at her with a closed fist, striking her in the forehead. (Doc. No. 107-1 at ¶ 15; Doc. No. 107-3 at ¶ 9). Defendant Causby drew his baton, but was unable to strike Plaintiff, who was surrounded by other staff members. (Doc. No. 107-3 at ...


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