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Woodward v. Clonniger

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

August 26, 2019

ALAN CLONINGER, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the following:

(1) Defendant Kim LNU's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 14];
(2) Plaintiff's Pro Se Motion to Obtain Correct Identities of Both Unknown Nurses [Doc. 24];
(3) Defendant Kim LNU's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Surreply to Defendant LNU's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 25];
(4) Defendant Cloninger and Nolen's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 27]; and
(5) Plaintiff's Pro Se Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint [Doc. 30].

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Pro se Plaintiff Robert E. Woodward is a North Carolina inmate incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action on April 26, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff named the following individuals as Defendants: (1) Alan Cloninger[1], Sheriff of Gaston County; (2) Kim LNU (“Defendant Kim”), identified as the “Head Nurse Kim” at Gaston County Detention Center; (3) Jane Doe, identified as a nurse at the Gaston County Detention Center; and (4) FNU Nolen, an officer at the Gaston County Detention Center. Plaintiff brought an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs based on Defendants' refusal to provide him with proper medical care of his diabetes-related foot conditions while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Gaston County Detention Center (the “jail”). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         On January 7, 2019, Defendant Kim moved for summary judgment. [Doc. 14]. In support of her motion, Defendant Kim filed a memorandum in support, an Affidavit of Bruce Flitt, DO, the Medical Director at the jail, and an Offender Information Report for the Plaintiff. [Docs. 14-1, 14-2]. Defendant Kim moves for summary judgment because she was misidentified by the Plaintiff. Although she was a nurse at the jail during the general time frame at issue, she was not on duty at the relevant times and had no interactions with the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff filed a response. [Doc. 20]. In his response, the Plaintiff apologizes to Defendant Kim for incorrectly identifying her and requests that summary judgment be granted for her. The Plaintiff also responds point-by-point to Defendant Kim's memorandum in support of summary judgment and to the Affidavit of Bruce Flitt, DO. [See Doc. 20]. The Plaintiff, however, submitted no affidavit or any other statements made under penalty of perjury. Defendant Kim replied [Doc. 22] and the Plaintiff filed a surreply [Doc. 23]. Defendant Kim moved to strike the Plaintiff's surreply as unauthorized. [Doc. 25].

         On February 8, 2019, after learning that Defendant Kim was not on duty at the relevant times, Plaintiff moved to conduct discovery to obtain the identities of “both nurses” who were present in the medical unit on March 7, 2018. [Doc. 24]. On February 25, 2019, Defendants Cloninger and Nolen moved for summary judgment. [Doc. 27]. In support of their motion, Defendants Cloninger and Nolen filed a memorandum, an Affidavit of Sheriff Alan Cloninger, and a letter from the Plaintiff dated March 8 and 11, 2018. [Docs. 27-2, 27-4, 29]. These Defendants also stated that they would provide video footage of the Plaintiff in the jail and at the medical area on March 7, 2018, on the Court's request. [Doc. 27-1]. Then, on February 26, 2019, the Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to “'correctly' name ‘both nurses' that violated [his] constitutional rights on the morning in question.” [Doc. 30].

         On March 5, 2019, this Court entered an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the requirements for filing a response to the summary judgment motions and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. [Doc. 31]. The Plaintiff was specifically advised that if he had any evidence to offer to show that there is a genuine issue for trial, he must present it to the Court “in a form which would otherwise be admissible at trial, i.e., in the form of affidavits or unsworn declarations.” The Court further advised that:

An affidavit is a written statement under oath; that is, a statement prepared in writing and sworn before a notary public. An unsworn statement, made and signed under the penalty of perjury, may also be submitted. Affidavits or statements must be presented by Plaintiff to this Court no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of this Order and must be filed in duplicate.

[Doc. 31]. The Plaintiff filed a 16-page handwritten response to Defendant's summary judgment motion. [Doc. 32]. The Plaintiff, however, submitted no affidavits or other evidence “in a form which would otherwise be admissible at trial.”

         B. Factual Background

         1.Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff did not respond to either summary judgment before the Court with evidence in the form of an affidavit or that is otherwise admissible at trial. As such, the Court has before it only the Plaintiff's original allegations, which are as follows.

         Plaintiff went to the jail on December 4, 2017 for one night. While there, he developed blisters on his toes, which turned into diabetic ulcers. He then got cellulitis and endured months of pain. Plaintiff wrote Sheriff Cloninger on December 6, 2017 and requested that he change his policy that prevented diabetics from keeping their personal shoes. When Plaintiff returned to the jail on March 5, 2018, the policy had not changed. Plaintiff was forced to wear the exact same shoes that caused his problems in December.

         On the evening of March 6, 2018, the Plaintiff's toes “busted open once again.” The Plaintiff went to medical the following morning to check his blood sugar and to get some band-aids. He “tried to declare a medical emergency.” The head nurse, who Plaintiff named in his Complaint as “Head Nurse Kim, ” was in earshot of his conversation with another nurse, who the Plaintiff named in his Complaint as Jane Doe, and would not come look at Plaintiff's toes. Plaintiff explained to Nurse Jane Doe that he had court that morning and needed to get his toes dressed or bandaged because he had a lot of walking to do. Nurse Doe and Officer Nolen “got mad” at Plaintiff for asking for this care. Officer Nolen threatened to mace the Plaintiff if he did not “got out of her ...

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