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McClary v. Graham

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

September 5, 2019

RONALD McCLARY, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU GRAHAM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          MATIM REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 33].

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff Ronald McClary, proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of his civil rights while incarcerated at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution (“Lanesboro C.I.”).[1][Doc. 1]. The Complaint asserts an excessive force claim against Lanesboro CI employee Officer FNU Graham (“Officer Graham”) for allegedly slamming Plaintiff's finger in the food passage door of Plaintiff's cell. [Id.]. The Complaint survived this Court's initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A and Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with his excessive force claim. [Doc. 9].

         On January 25, 2019, Officer Graham moved for summary judgment of Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Doc. 33]. In support of his summary judgment motion, Officer Graham submitted a memorandum, his own Declaration, and the Declarations of a several other employees of Lanesboro CI, including certain prison records. [Docs. 33-1 through 33-5, 35].

         On January 28, 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 motion and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. [Doc. 36]. The Plaintiff was specifically advised that he “may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in his pleadings to defeat a summary judgment motion.” [Id. at 2]. Rather, he must support his assertion that a fact is genuinely disputed by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulation (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” [Id. at 2 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(a)]. 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. 36 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4))]. The Plaintiff filed 13 handwritten pages in response to Officer Graham's summary judgment motion. [Doc. 38]. These consist of three documents: (1) “Plaintiff McClary Opposition to defendant Graham Motion for Summary Judgment” [Doc. 38], consisting of seven pages; (2) “Memorandum in Opposition of Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment” [Doc. 38-1], consisting of four pages; and (3) “Plaintiff Appendix in Opposition of Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment” [Doc. 38-2], consisting of two pages plus attachments. None of these documents, however, are signed under oath or under penalty of perjury. Moreover, they all consist of argument as to why the Defendant's evidence should not be believed and how corrupt the prison administration is, giving examples of other unrelated cases. The closest thing to a factual assertion among these documents is actually in the Memorandum [Doc. 38-1] in which the Plaintiff states “McClary has a broke finger and nobody can say where it happened but McClary. Dec. 30 2015 (sic)” [Id. at 2]. Plaintiff, however, presents no evidence as to what happened, resting solely upon his allegations. Plaintiff also attached to his Appendix two unauthenticated prison policies, as well as documents that appear to relate to other § 1983 cases Plaintiff has brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.[2][See Doc. 38-2]. The policies, however, if authentic, do not support Plaintiff's assertions. Likewise, the documents pertaining to other claims prove nothing regarding this claim. Thus, in terms of evidentiary forecast, the Defendant's is unrefuted.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Id.

         The movant has the “initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations omitted).

         Once this initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in his pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 324. Rather, the nonmoving party must oppose a proper summary judgment motion with citation to “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations …, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” in the record. See id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(a). Namely, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence from which “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Sylvia Dev. Corp. v. Calvert County, Md., 48 F.3d 810, 818 (4th Cir. 1995).

         When ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “‘Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'” Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 2677 (2009) (quoting Matsushita v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).

         III. ...


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