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Uzzell v. Murray

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

September 16, 2019

TIMOTHY UZZELL, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU MURRAY, 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 Christopher Nichols and Darren Daves. (Doc. 24).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         On November 8, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Timothy Uzell, an inmate in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (“NCDPS”), currently incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution (“Alexander”) in Taylorsville, North Carolina, filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as Defendants Kyle Murray, Christopher Nichols, Darren Daves, and Owen Blanton, all of whom are alleged to have been working as correctional officers at Alexander at all relevant times. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants used excessive force against him on March 27, 2015. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages.

         On September 10, 2018, Defendants Nichols and Daves filed the pending summary judgment motion. (Doc. 24). On September 13, 2018, 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 motion for summary judgment and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. Plaintiff did not respond to the summary judgment motion, and the time to do so has passed.[1] Thus, this matter is ripe for disposition.

         B. Factual Background

         1. Plaintiff's Allegations

         The unedited allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint are as follows:

On the date of 3/27/2015 at approximately 2 p.m. I was escorted out of my cell by Lt. Nichols, Officer Daves, Officer Murray, and Officer Blanton to the upstairs shower. After Officer Daves secured the shower door by locking it with me inside he opened the trap door to take the handcuffs off of me. A brief struggle happened and Officer Blanton along with Officer Murray and Lt. Nichols helped subdue my arms while Officer Blanton and Officer Daves held my left arm. Lt. Nichols and Officer Murray began to bend my fingers trying to break them. As I began to tell for him to stop Lt. Nichols said to Officer Murray to not break all of my fingers just 1 and maybe one more. At that time Officer Murray took my index finger and began pulling it towards my thumb while pulling my other 3 fingers in the opposite direction, splitting the webbing in between my fingers. I had to get stitches as well as now physical therapy caused by damaged nerves in my hand from the excessive force that was used. A violation of my Eighth Amendment.

(Doc. 1 at 3-4).

         2. Defendants' Summary Judgment Materials

         In support of the summary judgment motion, Defendants rely on the pleadings and all the attachments to the pleadings, including but not limited to the following (1) the Declaration of Lauren Carcioppolo (“Carci Decl.”); (2) the Declaration of Raymond Hamilton (“Hamilton Decl.”), a non-party who was employed as a correctional captain at Alexander and was the investigating officer with respect to the incident; (3) the Declaration of Christopher Nichols (“Nichols Decl.”), a named defendant who was employed as a correctional lieutenant at Alexander; and (4) the Declaration of Darren Daves (“Daves Decl.”), a named defendant who was employed as a correctional officer at Alexander.

         Defendants' summary judgment materials show that on March 27, 2015, at approximately 14:00 hours, Lt. Nichols and Officers Daves, Murray, and Blanton were called to restrictive housing after Plaintiff smeared feces on his cell wall and the cell window of his door and refused orders to submit to handcuffs. (Doc. 24-7: Ex. F (p. 1 of Incident Report)). Upon Lt. Nichols's arrival, he observed what looked and smell like feces smeared all over Plaintiff's cell window. (Doc. 24-8 at ¶ 12: Nichols Decl.). Lt. Nichols ordered Plaintiff to clean an area of his window so he could observe ...


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