Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pumphrey v. Coakley

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

March 16, 2018

WILLIAM C. PUMPHREY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOE COAKLEY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          IRENE CBERGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court has reviewed the Proposed Findings and Recommendation (PF&R) (Document 106), filed by the Honorable Omar J. Aboulhosn, United States Magistrate Judge, and the Defendants' Limited Objections to the Proposed Findings and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge (Document 107). For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the Defendants' objections should be overruled, and the Magistrate Judge's PF&R adopted.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Magistrate Judge provided a thorough summary of the alleged facts and procedural history in this case in his PF&R. The Court adopts the statement of facts and procedural history set forth in the PF&R, but provides the following as a concise summary. The Plaintiff, then an inmate at Federal Correctional Institution-Beckley (FCI-Beckley), initiated this action with the filing of a Complaint (Document 2) on October 28, 2015. The Plaintiff raised a number of claims for violation of his constitutional and civil rights under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The Plaintiff named a number of FCI-Beckley employees as defendants, and asserted that the Warden orchestrated a scheme, perpetuated by the other defendants, to systematically torture him by using secret, hidden devices to pump “irritating, nonsensical music” into his cell in the FCI-Beckley Special Housing Unit (SHU). (Pl.'s Compl., at 4-5.) The Plaintiff contended that the music increased his anxiety and “exacerbated serious pre-existing health issues.” (Id. at 5.) The Plaintiff further maintains that FCI-Beckley staff have harassed him by banging and kicking his cell door. The Plaintiff alleges that because of this harassment, he grinds his teeth compulsively and has lost numerous fillings, and also suffered from headaches. The Plaintiff also alleges that the Defendants have endangered his life, by spreading false rumors that he is a child molester, and caused him mental anguish, by making sexual overtures to him in the shower. Finally, the Plaintiff maintains that Defendant B. Coleman struck him without provocation, resulting in swelling and bruising, and that other Defendants have verbally threatened him, intentionally injured him when placing him in restraints, and, when pushing him in a wheelchair, have purposefully rammed other objects in order to cause him injury.

         The United States filed the Defendants Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment (Document 44) on February 12, 2016. The United States made four core arguments: (1) that the Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) that the Plaintiff failed to state a claim for relief on any of his allegations, (3) that the Plaintiff could not recover emotional or psychological damages without a showing of physical injury, and (4) that the Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. (Def. Mot. to Dismiss, at 1-2.)

         On July 18, 2016, the Magistrate Judge submitted his PF&R, recommending that the Court grant the motion of the United States, and dismiss the case from the docket. The Magistrate Judge found that the Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). (PF&R, at 15.) The Plaintiff filed his objections to the PF&R on July 28, 2016. In its September 7, 2016 Memorandum Opinion and Order (Document 70), this Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's PF&R and granted the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment (Document 44). The Plaintiff filed his Notice of Appeal (Document 74) on September 14, 2016, and on April 11, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its Opinion (Document 81) finding that the Court made inappropriate credibility determinations in granting the Defendants' motion to dismiss, reversing this Court's order adopting the Magistrate Judge's PF&R, and remanding the case for further proceedings. The Fourth Circuit issued the Mandate (Document 92) returning the case to this Court on June 5, 2017.

         On June 5, 2017, the Defendants' filed their Renewed Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment (Document 90). In their motion, the Defendants, again, argued that the Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and also that his claim of torture, his claim of excessive force by Officer Coleman, and his other constitutional claims failed to state a claim for relief. The Defendants further argued that the Plaintiff may not recover emotional or psychological damages without a showing of physical injury, that the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity, and that the Court should revoke the Plaintiff's in forma pauperis status based on his litigious misconduct. On June 19, 2017, the Plaintiff filed his Affidavit Response and Objection to Defendants' Renewed Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (Document 97).

         On January 30, 2018, the Magistrate Judge submitted his PF&R, recommending that the Defendants' renewed motion be granted in part and denied in part. The Magistrate Judge specifically recommended that the Defendants' motion should be denied to the extent it asserts that the Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrate remedies, as to the request to revoke the Plaintiff's in forma pauperis status, and as to the Plaintiff's claims for excessive force against Defendants Coleman and Harvey. The Magistrate Judge found that the Court would have to undertake credibility determinations, in contravention of the Fourth Circuit's opinion, and that these claims should, therefore, proceed to the discovery process. However, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court grant the Defendants' motion as to the Plaintiff's claims of conspiracy, audio torture, food tampering, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, mail tampering/access to court, violation of the administrative remedy process, and failure to intervene. (PF&R, at 51.) The Defendants filed their limited objections to the PF&R on February 8, 2018, and those objections are ripe for review.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Objections to PF&R

         This Court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo or any other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to those portions of the findings or recommendation to which no objections are addressed. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). In addition, this Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party “makes general and conclusory objections that do not direct the Court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). When reviewing portions of the PF&R de novo, the Court will consider the fact that the Petitioner is acting pro se, and his pleadings will be accorded liberal construction. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978).

         B. Summary Judgment

         The well-established standard for consideration of a motion for summary judgment is that summary judgment should be granted if the record, including the pleadings and other filings, discovery material, depositions, and affidavits, “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)- (c); see also Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 549 (1999); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Hoschar v. Appalachian Power Co., 739 F.3d 163, 169 (4th Cir. 2014). A “material fact” is a fact that could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010). A “genuine issue” concerning a material fact exists when the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. FDIC v. Cashion, 720 F.3d 169, 180 (4th Cir. 2013).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. When determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must view all of the factual evidence, and any reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hoschar, 739 F.3d at 169. However, the nonmoving party must satisfy its burden of showing a genuine factual dispute by offering more than “[m]ere speculation” or a “scintilla of evidence” in support of its position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001). If disputes over a material fact exist that “can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party, ” summary judgment is inappropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. On the other hand, if the nonmoving party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, ” then summary judgment should be granted because “a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element . . . necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         APPLICABL ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.