United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
CHARLES A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
SGT. SHULTIZ et al, Defendants.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on plaintiffs unopposed motions
for default judgment (DE 168, 170, 172) as to defendant
Linette Jordan ("Jordan"). In this posture, the
issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the reasons that
follow, the court grants plaintiff s motions for default
judgment, and awards plaintiff $10, 000.00 in compensatory
OF THE CASE
forth in the court's August 30, 2019, order:
On April 9, 2014, plaintiff Charles A. Williams
("plaintiff), a state inmate, filed this civil rights
action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that defendants Reginald Speller
("Speller") and [Jordan] used excessive force
against him in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. Plaintiff additionally alleged a
bystander liability claim against defendant Speller, as well
as defendants Victor Shultis ("Shultis") and Damion
M. Ridley ("Ridley"). [As relief, plaintiff
requested "compensatory, nominal, punitive damages $2,
000, 000 million."] On May 12, 2015, the court stayed
this case pending the disposition of a parallel action before
the North Carolina Industrial Commission in Williams v.
C/0 Jordon, No. TA-24669. The court subsequently lifted
the stay and resumed this action on May 4, 2018. Then, on
October 29, 2018, the court granted plaintiffs motion for
entry of default as to defendant Jordan, and the Clerk of
Court made an entry of default as to defendant Jordan the
On February 12, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion for partial
summary judgment with attached exhibits. On April 1, 2019,
defendants Ridley, Shultis, and Speller filed a cross-motion
for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff is unable to
establish a constitutional violation. In support of their
motion, defendants Ridley, Shultis, and Speller manually
filed a video-tape of the alleged use of force incident....
See (DE 166).
August 30, 2019, the court entered an order granting
defendants' motion for summary judgment and denying
plaintiffs partial motion for summary judgment. As a result,
the court dismissed all defendants except Jordan. The court
also appointed North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services
("NCPLS") to assist plaintiff with moving for
default judgment as to defendant Jordan. NCPLS then filed a
motion for default judgment, and a corrected motion for entry
of default on plaintiffs behalf. On September 11, 2019,
plaintiff filed a pro se motion for default judgment, with a
supporting affidavit. During this time period, NCPLS also
moved to withdraw as counsel, and plaintiff consented to
NCPLS's motion. See (DE 174). The court allowed NCPLS to
withdraw as counsel for plaintiff.
November 15, 2019, the court conducted a hearing on
plaintiffs motion for entry of default judgment to establish
the truth of plaintiff s allegations and to determine the
amount of any damages. At the hearing, plaintiff testified
and presented video evidence of the use of force
incident. In addition, the summary judgment record
contains several exhibits including plaintiffs medical
records following the use-of-force incident.
action arose out of events that occurred at Bertie
Correctional Institution ("Bertie") on April 13,
2013. (Compl. p. 4). At approximately 8:20 a.m. on that date,
defendants Speller and Jordan entered the H-Pod to retrieve
plaintiff, a maximum control status inmate, from the shower
and to escort him back to his cell. (Speller Aff. ¶ 8).
When Speller approached plaintiff in the shower, plaintiff
stated that he was not ready, and asked for additional time.
(Id.) Speller left plaintiff in the shower. (Speller
Aff. ¶ 8; Video 1:9:19:24-9:19:47). Shortly thereafter,
defendant Jordan approached the shower and stated:
"[You] need to speed up [be]fore she take her black
stick out and pop the key inside the shower key door and drag
[plaintiff] out." (Compl. p. 4: Video 1: 9:20:33).
Defendant Jordan then opened the door to the shower, without
first applying hand restraints to plaintiff, and slapped
plaintiff on the right side of his face. (Compl. p. 4;Video
1: 9:20:41-48; Hrg. Tr. p. 3, 1. 5). Plaintiff and defendant
Jordan then got into a "tussle." (Hrg. Tr. p. 3,
1.7; Video 1:9:20:41-9:21:24). Speller and Jordan struggled
to gain control over plaintiff. (Video 1:9:20:49-57).
point during the altercation, defendant Jordan attempted to
remove her baton from its holster, but was unable to do so.
(Id. 9:21:16-20). Jordan then grabbed defendant
Speller's baton, raised the baton over her head, and
brought it down onto plaintiff several times as Speller was
pushing plaintiff back into the enclosed shower area.
(Id. 9:21:20-9:21:28). Several correctional officers
next arrived to provide assistance, and one officer gave
plaintiff a direct order to lay on the ground so that the
officers could apply wrist restraints. (Compl. p. 5; Hrg. Tr.
p. 3, 1. 14-24). Plaintiff complied. (Id.) At some
point after plaintiff was restrained, defendant Jordan
entered the shower area, and struck plaintiff with a baton
several times while he was restrained. (Id. p. 4, 1.
5-8). Sergeant Wilson next "pulled [defendant Jordan] to
stop the assault and push[ed] her out [of] the block."
(Compl. p. 5; Video 1: 9:21:53-9:22:03). A correctional
officer then proceeded to escort defendant Jordan out of
H-Pod. (Video 1: 9:22:05-9:22:11).
Jordan was removed from the shower area, correctional
officers lifted plaintiff and carried him to Bertie's
medical unit. (Hrg. Tr. p. 4, 1.17-19). As the officers were
escorting plaintiff to the medical unit, defendant Jordan
pushed her way toward plaintiff. (Video 2: 9:23:26).
Correctional officers located in the hallway attempted to
stop Jordan, and Jordan resisted the officers. (Id.
9:23:26-9:23:39). Jordan continued to resist fellow officers,
until one officer physically lifted Jordan and carried her
away from plaintiff. (Id. 9:23:57-9:24:24).
next was examined by Bertie's medical staff. Nurse
Leticia Jerkins assessed plaintiff with abrasions to his
neck, head, upper left and right arms, right knee, right and
left arms, left leg, mid-chest area. (Clark Aff. Ex. C, pp.
6, 25). The nurse additionally noted bruising to plaintiffs
upper and lower back, left upper shoulder, and head. (IcLp.
25; (DE 131), pp. 20-21). At the hearing, plaintiff testified
that he was prescribed Naproxen, Salsalate, and Tylenol for
his injuries. (Hrg. Tr. p. 6, 1. 17; p. 12, 1. 2-6).
Plaintiff, additionally, testified that he suffers from
ongoing back pain, as well as arthritis in his shoulder. (Ii
p. 6, 1. 1-5). Plaintiff stated he has difficulty sitting up
at times, and that he suffers from ...