United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., Chief District Judge
Order entered April 6, 2017 (Docket Entry No. 10), the Court
referred this prisoner civil rights action to the Magistrate
Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.
pending is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant
Donald Bright (Docket Entry No. 27), to which Plaintiff has
not filed a response. For the reasons set forth below, the
undersigned respectfully recommends that the motion for
summary judgment be granted and this action be dismissed.
Scott (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate of the Tennessee
Department of Correction (“TDOC”) currently
confined at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility in
Whiteville, Tennessee. He filed this lawsuit pro se
and in forma pauperis on January 30, 2017, seeking
monetary and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for violations of his constitutional rights alleged to have
occurred during his previous confinement at the South Central
Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) in Clifton,
Tennessee. See Complaint (Docket Entry No. 1).
Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint providing
additional factual allegations. See Amended
Complaint (Docket Entry No. 3).
the Court's initial review of the lawsuit under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, Plaintiff was found to
have alleged: 1) an arguable First Amendment claim against
Correctional Sergeant Doreen Trafton (“Trafton”);
and 2) an arguable Eighth Amendment claim against Trafton and
Correctional Officer Donald Bright (“Bright”).
See Memorandum Opinion (Docket Entry No. 9) at
Process was issued and served upon the two defendants.
Defendant Bright filed an answer to the complaint.
See Docket Entry No. 18. In lieu of an answer,
Defendant Trafton filed a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim. By Order entered January 24, 2018 (Docket
Entry No. 24), the Court granted Defendant Trafton's
motion, which was unopposed by Plaintiff, and she was
dismissed from the action. A scheduling order was entered
setting out a period for pretrial activity in the case.
See Docket Entry No. 21.
remaining Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Bright is
based on allegations that Bright used excessive force against
Plaintiff on December 26, 2016. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
that he had his arm extended through the “pie
hole” opening in his cell door and was asking for
“my property and a grievance.” See
Amended Complaint (Docket Entry No. 3-1) at 5. He alleges
that Bright became frustrated with Plaintiff and slammed the
door to the “pie hole” on Plaintiff's wrist
and then put a lock on the pie flap. Id. 5-6.
Plaintiff alleges that he was “stuck unable to move my
wrist” until another SCCF Captain Keeton came into the
housing unit. Id. at 6. He further alleges that
Defendant Bright's conduct happened in front of another
correctional officer and that Bright made comments that
“did not care, ” “we ain't eating fort
the next four days, ” and “I should've broken
your damn wrist.” Id. at 6.
March 22, 2018, Defendant Bright filed the pending motion for
summary judgment in his favor. In support of his motion,
Defendant Bright relies upon: (1) his own declaration (Docket
Entry No. 27-1); (2) the declarations of SCCF Captain Gregory
Keeton (Docket Entry No. 27-2), SCCF Grievance Chairperson
Leigh Staggs (Docket Entry No. 27-3), SCCF Case Manager
Matthew Weaver (Docket Entry No. 27-4), Hardeman County
Correctional Facility Health Services Administrator John
Borden (Docket Entry No. 28-2), and SCCF Health Services
Administrator Jammie Garner (Docket Entry No. 28-3); and, (3)
a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No.
Bright raises two arguments for summary judgment. First, he
asserts that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his claim through
administrative remedies at the SCCF prior to pursuing the
claim in his lawsuit and, thus, failed to comply with the
exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). See
Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 28) at 4-8. Second,
Defendant Bright denies using force against Plaintiff and
argues that the undisputed facts weigh against any reasonable
finding that he violated Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. Id. at 8-15. Bright asserts that, on the day
in question, he issued to Plaintiff a prison disciplinary
charge for blocking the food port of his cell door and
preventing Bright from securing the food port door, a charge
to which Plaintiff eventually pled guilty. See
Declaration of Bright at ¶¶ 7-9. Bright contends
that Plaintiff did not raise allegations during the
disciplinary proceedings about being subjected to the use of
excessive force. Id. at ¶ 10. He further
contends that: (1) there is no record that Plaintiff
complained to other prison officials about the alleged
excessive force, see Declaration of Weaver at
¶¶ 7-8; (2) there are no medical records showing
that Plaintiff made any complaints about suffering excessive
force and/or an injury to his wrist, see Declaration
of Garner; and, (3) Defendant Keeton denies witnessing
Plaintiff with his arm or wrist locked in the food port of
his cell door as alleged by Plaintiff. See
Declaration of Keeton at ¶¶ 5-7.
Order entered March 29, 2018, Plaintiff was notified of the
motion for summary judgment, given a deadline of May 11,
2018, to file a response, and advised that his failure to
respond could result in the dismissal of his case.
See Docket Entry No. 29. However, Plaintiff has not
responded in any manner to the motion. In fact, the docket
shows that Plaintiff has not made any filings in this action
since returning completed service packets to the Clerk's
Office in April 2017. See Docket Entry No. 13.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate 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.” Rule 56(a)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See also Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548,
91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A “genuine issue of material
fact” is a fact which, if proven at trial, could lead a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In considering whether
summary judgment is appropriate, the Court must “look
beyond the pleadings and assess the proof to determine
whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Sowards
v. Loudon Cnty., 203 F.3d 426, 431 (6th Cir.), cert.
denied, 531 U.S. 875, 121 S.Ct. 179, 148 L.Ed.2d 123
(2000). The Court must view the evidence and all inferences
drawn from underlying facts “in the light most
favorable to the party opposing the motion.” See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., Ltd.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986);
Gribcheck v. Runyon, 245 F.3d 547, 550 (6th Cir.),
cert. denied, 534 U.S. 896, 122 S.Ct. 217, 151
L.Ed.2d 155 (2001).
moving party has the burden of showing the absence of genuine
factual disputes from which a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, at
249-50. “Once the moving party has presented evidence
sufficient to support a motion for summary judgment, the
nonmoving party is not entitled to trial merely on the basis
of allegations; significant probative evidence must be
presented to support the complaint.” Goins v.
Clorox Co., 926 F.2d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1991). In other
words, to defeat summary judgment, the party opposing the
motion must ...