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Cantrell v. Frame

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

January 23, 2019

LARRY WAYNE CANTRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN FRAME, RICHARD TONEY, ANDREW HILL, RYAN HILL, SGT. MIKE BUZZARD, and SCOTT SMITH, sued in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

          DWANE L. TINSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is assigned to the Honorable John T. Copenhaver, Jr., Senior United States District Judge, and it is referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for submission of proposed findings and a recommendation for disposition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Pending before the court is the defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11).

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The plaintiff's Complaint contends that, on March 26, 2018, he was subject to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and denied due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment when the defendants, as part of a Special Response Team (“SRT”), entered his pod at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex (“MOCC”), removed him and several other inmates for a surprise cell search, and placed them, in full restraints, in one-man recreation yard cages for over two hours.

         Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the SRT team shut off the water in his cell around 7:00 a.m. and it remained off until 6:00 p.m. After searching a number of other cells in his pod, two unknown officers conducted a strip search of the plaintiff, placed him in handcuffs and shackles with his hands behind his back, removed him from his cell, and led him to a pod table, where he was “chained to it without incident.” (ECF No. 2 at 1-2, ¶¶ 1-10). While the plaintiff was chained to the table, an incident occurred in which another inmate in the pod was sprayed with a chemical agent by correctional officers. According to the plaintiff, at that point, defendant Richard Toney then yelled, “That's it, I've had enough! Get them all out of here!” (Id. at 3, ¶ 13).

         Defendants Scott Smith and Mike Buzzard then unchained the plaintiff and took him to the recreation yard and placed him in a one-man cage, which, according to the defendants, is the same set up the inmates use on a daily basis for recreation and making phone calls. (Id. at 7, ¶¶ 14-15 and Appx. B-F; ECF No. 11 at 3). The plaintiff claims that he leaned against the cage to have his restraints removed (as they are generally removed during recreation time) and told defendant Buzzard that the restraints were really tight and were not double-locked. Nonetheless, Buzzard refused to remove or adjust them and instead instructed the plaintiff to “talk to the Cpt.” (ECF No. 2 at 7, ¶¶ 16-18). Other inmates made similar complaints about their restraints. (Id. at 8, ¶ 19).

         The plaintiff later asked defendant Toney to remove his handcuffs because they were hurting his wrists and shoulders, but Toney also refused and said, “not my call, ask Frame.” (Id., ¶ 21). The plaintiff further contends that he was “left outside” in shorts and a t-shirt in approximately 40-degree weather. (Id. at 8-9, ¶¶ 24-25).[1]

         According to the Complaint, all of the correctional officers left the recreation area, leaving seven inmates locked in the cages and still in restraints. (Id., ¶ 23). After approximately 20 minutes, several of the officers, who are not specifically identified, came back to the recreation yard and taunted the inmates, making comments such as “How's the weather in here? Air's a little cold, huh?” and “Why's nobody laughing now? Are you not having fun anymore?” (Id. at 9, ¶¶ 27, 30). The plaintiff again informed the officers that his handcuffs were too tight, that he couldn't feel his hand, and that his shoulders were hurting too. (Id., ¶ 28). Other inmates complained about their restraints and the temperature as well. (Id., ¶ 31). Again, the correctional officers failed to intervene and left the recreation area. (Id. at 10, ¶¶ 32, 33).

         The Complaint further alleges that, after another hour in the recreation cage, he and other inmates yelled for help because he had to go to the bathroom, but no one came to assist him. (Id., ¶¶ 34-36). The plaintiff urinated on himself after his calls to the SRT team members went unanswered. (Id., ¶ 37). The Complaint further alleges that, after another hour of being in severe pain and soaked in urine, he was somehow able to call his mother on the telephone to seek help from the prison. (Id. at 10-11, ¶ 38).[2]

         The plaintiff was returned to his cell at approximately 3:30 p.m. When Nurse Kelly Foster came around for “pill pass, ” the plaintiff complained to her about swelling and bruising on his wrists. She provided him with Motrin, but the plaintiff alleges that the pain and swelling of his hand continued. (Id., ¶¶ 40-44). At approximately 7:30 p.m., the plaintiff showed his wrist and hand to Correctional Officer Stover, who took pictures, filed a report, and contacted the medical unit to bring the plaintiff an ice pack to relieve his pain and swelling. (Id., ¶¶ 46-47). The plaintiff filed a sick call request complaining that his shoulders were popping and grinding, that he was in severe pain, and that he was unable to open his swollen right hand. (Id., ¶ 48). The plaintiff also filed three grievances detailing the alleged incidents giving rise to his alleged injuries. (Id., ¶ 49).[3]

         On March 28, 2018, Nurse Foster evaluated the plaintiffs injuries and referred him to see Dr. Lye. She also ordered Motrin for his pain. (Id, ¶¶ 50-51). On March 29, 2018, the plaintiff was seen by Dr. Lye, who ordered an x-ray of his right hand on March 30, 2018. (Id., ¶¶ 52-53). On April 3, 2018, the plaintiff again saw Nurse Foster, who ordered more Motrin for pain, and again referred him to see Dr. Lye. (Id., ¶¶ 56-58). On April 13, 2018, the plaintiff again saw Dr. Lye who ordered x-rays of his shoulders, which were taken on April 17, 2018. (Id., ¶¶ 62, 63). On May 3, 2018, the plaintiff saw Dr. Lye for a follow-up and he was placed on long-term pain medication for the pain in his shoulders. (Id., ¶ 64).

         The plaintiff claims that, as a result of his approximately two hours of restraint on March 26, 2018, he has suffered the following injuries and seeks monetary compensation therefore:

. daily pain and lack of natural motion in both shoulders, requiring pain and anti-inflammatory medication. (Id., ¶¶ 65-66).
. his dominant, right hand goes numb after only minutes of use, and his range of motion and grip have suffered. (Id., ¶ 67).
. lack of ability to perform everyday activities using his right hand. (Id., ¶ 68).
. scars on both ankles from the leg restraints. (Id., ¶ 69).
. emotional and psychological injuries. (Id., ¶ 70).

         On August 22, 2018, the defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11) and Memorandum of Law in support thereof (ECF No. 12). The motion documents assert that the defendants are immune from suit in their official capacities under the Eleventh Amendment and that the plaintiff's Complaint fails to state any plausible federal constitutional claims against them in their individual capacities.

         On August 29, 2018, the plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to the defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18). The plaintiff's Response clarifies that his claims are not based upon his initial placement in the restraints. Rather, his claims are grounded in his placement in a locked cage with exposure to the weather, the tightness of the restraints causing him pain and injury, and the failure of the defendants, including the supervisors, to intervene to remedy these issues during the two-hour period. (Id. at 2). The plaintiff's Response further clarifies that he is suing the defendants only in their individual, and not their official, capacities and that he is not alleging any Eighth ...


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