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Scott v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

July 15, 2019

JEROME SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently pending before this Court is the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 45], filed December 17, 2018. This matter is now ripe for decision. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will grant the Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jerome Scott is currently a federal inmate incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). Scott claims that on April 1, 2017, while at the United States Penitentiary in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia ("USP Hazelton") he was raped by another inmate after officers purposely unlocked his cell door. He reported the alleged rape on June 16, 2017. The Special Investigative Services ("SIS") Lieutenant, Jamie Canfield, interviewed Scott the same day as the report [Doc. 46-2 at 3]. Lt. Canfteld's Declaration [Doc. 46-2] states that, in the interview, Scott claimed officers were the ones that raped him. Scott told Lt. Canfield that he believed he had Seen raped because he woke up to the sound of staff unlocking his cell door and he felt pain in his anus. Scott told Lt. Canfield "you can check the cameras and see." [Doc. 46-2 at 3]. Scott claims he changed the story of who allegedly raped him because he was scared.

         Lt. Canfield reviewed the video footage of April 1, 2OI7from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Lt. Canfield states that no time during this eight hours did footage show any officer unsecuring Scott's cell or anyone (officer or inmate) entering his cell. Further, the range was on lockdown. The footage has since been deleted due to USP Hazelton's video-recording system.[1] A senior special agent from the Office of the Inspector General ("OIG") contacted SIS regarding similar allegations Scott presented to their office. Lt. Canfield told OIG that the video footage was reviewed and that Scott's accounts of the event had changed multiple times. OIG did not open its own independent investigation.

         Scott had exhausted his administrative remedies through the BOP. He asked for compensation for the injuries and that his anus suffered permanent damage. The BOP denied the claim and "found no evidence of a compensable personal injury due to the negligence" of the BOP and there was "no evidence staff caused you to be assaulted, or ignored any assault." [Doc. 46-1 at ¶ 8].

         Scott filed his instant Complaint against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28. U.S.C. § 2671, etseq. Scott alleges deliberate indifference and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. He requests $9, 400, 000 in damages for "physical pain, psychological disorders, mental and emotional suffering, permanent injuries, damage anal [sic], [and] nightmares." [Doc. 8 at 9].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with facts sufficient to create a triable issue of fact." Temkin v. Frederick County Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1095 (1992) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48(1986)).

         However, as the United States Supreme Court noted in Anderson, "Rule 56(e) itself provides that a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 256. "The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250; see also Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414 (4th Cir. 1979) (Summary judgment "should be granted only in those cases where it is perfectly clear that no issue of fact is involved and inquiry into the facts is not desirable to clarify the application of the law." (citing Stevens v. Howard D. Johnson Co., 181 F.2d 390, 394 (4th Cir. 1950))).

         In reviewing the supported underlying facts, all inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Additionally, the party opposing summary judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Id. at 586. That is, once the movant has met its burden to show absence of material fact, the party opposing summary judgment must then come forward with affidavits or other evidence demonstrating there is indeed a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-25; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         The FTCA is a comprehensive legislative scheme by which the United States has waived its sovereign immunity to allow civil suits for actions arising out of the negligent acts of agents of the United States. The United States cannot be sued in a tort action unless it is clear that Congress has waived the Government's sovereign immunity and authorized suit under the FTCA. Dalehite v. United States, 346 U.S. 15, 30-31 (1953). The provisions of the FTCA are found in Title 28 of the United States Code. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 1402(b), 2401(b) and 2671-2680.

         An inmate "can sue under the FTCA to recover damages from the United States Government for personal injuries sustained during confinement in a federal prison, by reason of the negligence of a government employee." United States v. Muniz,374 ...


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