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Lacy v. Delong

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

March 13, 2018

JOE DELONG, et al., Defendants.



         Pending before the court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Joe DeLong and Steven Crook. (ECF No. 76.) By Standing Order entered on April 8, 2013, and filed in this case on June 19, 2013, this action was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Dwane L. Tinsley for submission of proposed findings and a recommendation for disposition. (ECF No. 3.) The Court VACATES the order filed on June 19, 2013, (ECF No. 3), designating Magistrate Judge Dwane L. Tinsley to submit proposed findings of fact and recommendation. The undersigned will now proceed to consider the case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously dismissed the claims against the PrimeCare Medical defendants and Correctional Officer Hunter. (ECF No. 7; ECF No. 72.) Thus, the only claims still before the Court are Plaintiff Albert William Lacy's (“Lacy”) Fourteenth Amendment claims against unidentified correctional officers who allegedly failed to intervene in the alleged assaults described in the Complaint, and his supervisory liability claims against Joe DeLong, the former Executive Director of the West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority (“WVRJCFA”), and Steven Crook, the former Administrator of the South Central Regional Jail (“SCRJ”), where Lacy's claims arose.

         With respect to the remaining claims, Lacy alleges that, on an unspecified date, while he was a pre-trial detainee at the SCRJ, he was involved in altercations with two unidentified inmates, lasting for over 25 minutes. (Compl., ECF No. 2 at 12; Dep. of Albert Lacy, ECF No. 76 at 6 [Lacy Dep. p. 14].) Lacy's Complaint alleges that “Correctional Officer Hunter instigate[d] an assault on Plaintiff Lacy by telling two (2) white inmates that the plaintiff was a child molester.” (ECF No. 2 at 12.) During his deposition, Lacy testified that, on the day of the assaults, he heard Correctional Officer Hunter tell an inmate in the cell next to his that the plaintiff was a “baby raper” or “was in jail for raping a baby, ” and that this statement led to his assaults by the other inmates. (ECF No. 76 at 9, 11 [Lacy Dep. pp. 19, 21].) However, Lacy could not recall in what section of the jail these incidents took place. (Id. at 9-10 [Lacy Dep. pp. 19-20].)

         Lacy further alleges that other correctional officers observed these assaults and had the opportunity to intervene to stop the same, but failed to do so. However, Lacy is unable to identify any of those individuals. (Id. at 22-23 [Lacy Dep. pp. 47-48].) Finally, Lacy alleges that Defendants Joe DeLong and Steve Crook, as the former supervisors of these correctional officers, should be held liable for the allegedly unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates because the jail was overcrowded and staffed by improperly trained correctional officers.

         Discovery in this matter concluded on January 15, 2018. On January 25, 2018, Defendants DeLong and Crook filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 76), and a Memorandum of Law in support thereof, (ECF No. 77). On February 5, 2018, Lacy filed a Motion in Opposition of Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 78.) The Defendants did not file a reply brief. The motion documents will be further addressed in detail infra.


         In evaluating summary judgment motions, Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense - or the part of each claim or defense - on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (2010). Material facts are those necessary to establish the elements of a party's cause of action. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Summary judgment is required when a party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The moving party has the burden of establishing that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's claim. Id. at 322-23. Once the moving party demonstrates such a lack of evidence, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and make a sufficient showing of facts presenting a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 325; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Accordingly, summary judgment will generally be granted unless a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the non-moving party on the evidence presented. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

         A court must not resolve disputed facts or weigh the evidence, and may not make determinations of credibility. Russell v. Microdyne Corp., 65 F.3d 1229, 1239 (4th Cir. 1995); Sosebee v. Murphy, 797 F.2d 179, 182 (4th Cir. 1986). Rather, the party opposing the motion is entitled to have his or her version of the facts accepted as true and to have all internal conflicts resolved in his or her favor. Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414 (4th Cir. 1979). Inferences that are “drawn from the underlying facts . . . must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). However, the party opposing the motion may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Sprenkle v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., 84 F.Supp.2d 751 (N.D. W.Va. 2000).


         Lacy contends that Defendants DeLong and Crook operated the SCRJ in an overcrowded and unsafe condition. More specifically, Lacy contends that these defendants, as supervisors, failed “to train correctional officers and shift leaders on how to create a safe environment and defuse conflict in the POD[.]” (ECF No. 2 at 11.)

         It is well-established that a government official cannot be held liable under § 1983 solely on the basis of respondeat superior.” See, e.g., Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Nonetheless, “[t]he principle is firmly entrenched that supervisory officials may be held liable in certain circumstances for the constitutional injuries inflicted by their subordinates.” Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994). In such circumstances, liability is based not on respondeat superior, but upon “a recognition that supervisory indifference or tacit authorization of subordinates' misconduct may be a causative factor in the constitutional injuries they inflict on those committed to their care.” Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 372 (4th Cir. 1984) (citing Orpiano v. Johnson, 632 F.2d 1096, 1101 (4th Cir. 1980)).

         In order to establish a supervisor's § 1983 liability, a plaintiff “must show actual or constructive knowledge of a risk of constitutional injury, deliberate indifference to that risk, and ‘an affirmative causal link between the supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.'” Carter v. Morris, 164 F.3d 215, 221 (4th Cir. 1999). In other words, a plaintiff must ...

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