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Byrd v. Clark

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

July 8, 2019

GEORGE JOHN BYRD, Plaintiff,
v.
SHANNON CLARK, OFFICER J. VAUGHT, and OFFICER O'NEIL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         This is a pro se prisoner's civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Now before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 38], in support of which Defendants filed a memorandum [Doc. 39], a statement of material facts [Doc. 40], and Plaintiff's deposition [Docs. 42 and 43]. Plaintiff has not filed a response to this motion and the time for doing so has passed. E.D. Tenn. LR 7.1(a)(2). As such, Plaintiff has waived any opposition thereto. Elmore v. Evans, 449 F.Supp. 2, 3 (E.D. Tenn. 1976), aff'd mem. 577 F.2d 740 (6th Cir. 1978); E.D. Tenn. LR 7.2. Also pending in this action are Plaintiff's motion for discovery [Doc. 48], to which Defendants have filed a response in opposition [Doc. 49], and Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution due to Plaintiff's failure to file his pretrial narrative statement [Doc. 51], which Plaintiff has now filed [Doc. 52]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 38] will be GRANTED and the remaining motions [Docs. 48 and 51] will be DENIED as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously summarized the factual allegations of Plaintiff's sworn complaint as follows:

Plaintiff filed this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 22, 2016[, ] against Defendants Lee, Clark, Lundy, Shelton, Vaught, and O'Neil for alleged violations of his constitutional rights occurring while he was incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex (“NECX”).
Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 6, 2016, Plaintiff's cell at NECX was searched by an Internal Affairs unit, and then he was required to take a drug test. After Plaintiff failed the drug test, he claims that Defendant Clark, a member of the Internal Affairs unit, told him and his cellmate that if they “wanted to see [their] family again, ” they would have to tell her how drugs were being brought into NECX. Plaintiff alleges that he did not feel safe cooperating in the investigation because a correctional officer, Officer Hamm, was responsible for bringing drugs into the prison. However, after Defendant Clark arranged for him to be taken to the medical bay to talk, Plaintiff told other correctional officers that Officer Hamm was the “dirty c/o.” Plaintiff alleges that the correctional officers involved in the Internal Affairs investigation arranged for Officer Hamm to be moved to his pod, and Plaintiff was told to call a “snitch line . . . when C/O Hamm was bringing the next ‘pack' (drugs) in.” Plaintiff states that he again expressed his reservations about being involved in the investigation, but proceeded “thinking I would not be able to see my family.”
Plaintiff then claims that “the very next day[, ] the officers ‘leaked' it to another inmate that my cell[mate] and I w[ere] working with I.A.” Next, Plaintiff alleges that his cell mate informed Defendant Lundy that they “wanted nothing to do with” the investigation. After “it also got back to C/O Hamm that [Plaintiff and his cell mate were] going to set him up, ” Correctional Officer Hamm allegedly made comments about how Plaintiff was a snitch and “having [his] eyes beat shut.” On April 16, 2016, Plaintiff claims that he was assaulted in his pod, which resulted in his eyes “beat shut[, ] and [his] leg . . . fractured to where [he] was on crutches for 4 weeks” and required surgery.
Ultimately, Plaintiff alleges that he “should have never been assaulted because [he] was in the protective custody pod, and the inmate who assaulted [him] should not have been out with [him].” Further, Plaintiff claims that he “told [Defendant] O'Neil that [he] would be assaulted, and [he] would not fight back.” Plaintiff then alleges that after he was still charged with fighting another inmate, he told Defendant Clark why he was assaulted, and “she just said, can you go back or not.” Plaintiff claims that he was still “sent back to the same pod.” At this point, Plaintiff alleges that he attempted to convince Correctional Officer Hamm that he was not a snitch, and his cellmate arranged a deal with Hamm where the cellmate could find pills for Hamm to pick up.
Plaintiff claims that “this happened a few times, and [he] did tell [Internal Affairs] what was going on, ” but, although Correctional Officer Hamm was later arrested, Plaintiff and his cellmate were also sent “to the hole with write-ups saying [they] conspired with the C/O to bring in drugs.” Defendant Clark allegedly “denied any involvement.” Later, Plaintiff claims that he “was taken to the hole on a bogus write up and [Defendant] Vaught yelled to the whole pod that [he] was a snitch, [and that he] told on C/O Hamm.”
Additionally, Plaintiff claims that he “tried to talk to [Defendant] Shelton” about his reservation with the Internal Affairs investigation, but that Defendant Shelton said that “he did not want to get involved.” Further, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Lundy “knew and was [a]part of [Internal Affairs] busting Hamm.” Lastly, Plaintiff claims that he was placed in the hole for “bogus write ups” due to his cooperation in the Internal Affairs investigation.
Ultimately, Plaintiff alleges that his reputation as a snitch will follow him to other prisons, that his knee is “forever damaged, ” and that he will “have to be on protective custody for the remainder of [his] time.” Plaintiff requests that the Court appoint him a lawyer and “send out summons, ” as well as seeks a temporary restraining order and compensatory damages.

[Doc. 6 p. 3-5 (internal citations omitted)]. The Court screened the complaint and allowed only Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants O'Neil, Clark, and Vaught to proceed [Id. at 6-13].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. McLean v. 988011 Ontario Ltd, 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). As such, the moving party has the burden of conclusively showing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 63 (6th Cir. 1979).

         To successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, “the non-moving party . . . must present sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find for him.” Jones v. Muskegon County, 625 F.3d 935, 940 (6th Cir. 2010). A sworn complaint, however, carries the same weight as an ...


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