United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is Defendants Nathan Withrow, Corporal
Taylor, and Lieutenant Hill’s motion for summary
judgment [ECF No. 135]. The Plaintiff, Garland Murray, filed
a response [ECF No. 141], and the Defendants filed a reply
[ECF No. 144]. The matter is ripe for adjudication. For the
reasons stated herein, the Motion is GRANTED
on all counts.
case involves the Defendants’ treatment of Mr. Garland
Murray during his incarceration at Mount Olive Correctional
Complex (MOCC). On or around November 20, 2017, officers
sprayed Murray with oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray). Compl.
¶ 13 [ECF No. 85]. These Defendants were not engaged in
the use of pepper spray. However, the aftermath of that use
of force is relevant to these Defendants.
parties agree that after Murray was sprayed with pepper
spray, officers took him to a solitary confinement cell where
they left him in his wet clothing, contaminated with pepper
spray. Compl. ¶ 45-47 [ECF No. 85]. His cell did not
contain bedding or a mattress, and he did not receive fresh
clothing, bedding or a mattress until the following day,
despite numerous requests. Id. Murray alleges that
Defendant Withrow punished him for requesting these items by
writing him up for “compromising an
employee” which led to his prolonged stay in
solitary confinement. Pl.’s Resp. Opp’n Def.
Lilly et. al. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. D [ECF No. 140-4].
asserts several issues with the conditions of his cell.
First, he contends that Defendant Withrow publicized to other
inmates that he sought protective custody, thus labeling him
a snitch. Def. Lilly et. al. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 4 at 35-37
[ECF No. 131-4] (“Pl’s Dep.”). Murray
claims that inmates subsequently “piled human feces
outside of and under” his cell door, which the
Defendants did not remove. Id. at 37; Pl.’s
Resp. Opp’n Def. Lilly et. al. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. P
[ECF No. 140-16]. Second, he claims that the sink in his cell
was broken, resulting in unusable water. Pl.’s Resp.
Opp’n Def. Lilly et. al. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. O, Ex. P
[ECF No. 140-15, 16]. Thus, he claims that his only access to
liquid was a small amount of milk, coffee, or juice given to
him at meals, or water from his toilet. Pl’s Dep. at
39-40 [ECF No. 131- 4]. Third, he claims that Defendant
Withrow dumped his food on the floor, deprived him of food,
and threatened him not to make any more complaints about the
conditions of the prison. Pl’s Dep. at 31 [ECF No.
131-4]; Pl.’s Resp. Opp’n Def. Lilly et. al. Mot.
Summ. J., Ex. M [ECF No. 140-13].
Defendants acknowledge that Murray did not receive bedding, a
mattress, or clean clothes until the day after being placed
in solitary confinement. Def. Lilly et. al. Mot. Summ. J.,
Ex. 3 at 45-48, Ex. 4 at 49-52 [ECF No. 131-3, 4]. The
Defendants further acknowledge that the sink in the
Plaintiff’s cell was broken. Def. Withrow et., al. Mot.
Summ. J., Ex. 2 [ECF No. 135-2]. However, they contend in
response to Plaintiff’s grievance, the sink was fixed
within approximately two weeks. Def. Withrow et., al. Mot.
Summ. J., Ex. 1, Ex. 2 [ECF No. 135-1, 2]. The Defendants
deny that Defendant Withrow publicized comments about
Plaintiff’s protective custody request. Def. Withrow
et., al. Mot. Summ. J., 8. The Defendants further assert that
Defendant Withrow did not deny the Plaintiff food, throw his
food on the ground, or threaten him about making further
obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Facts are ‘material’
when they might affect the outcome of the case.”
Lester v. Gilbert, 85 F.Supp. 3d 851, 857 (S.D.
W.Va. 2015) (quoting News & Observer Publ’g Co.
v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th
Cir. 2010)). “A genuine issue of material fact exists
if . . . a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for
the non-movant.” Runyon v. Hannah, No.
2:12-1394, 2013 WL 2151235, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. May 16, 2013)
(citations omitted); Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d
820, 824 (4th Cir. 1991) (“[d]isposition by summary
judgment is appropriate . . . where the record as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-movant.”). The moving party bears the burden of
showing that “there is an absence of evidence to
support the nonmoving party’s case.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court will not
“weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Instead, the court will draw any
permissible inference from the underlying facts in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88
(1986). Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmoving
party has the burden of proof on an essential element of his
or her case and does not make, after adequate time for
discovery, a showing sufficient to establish that element.
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. The nonmoving
party must satisfy this burden of proof by offering more than
a mere “scintilla of evidence” in support of his
or her position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Likewise, conclusory allegations or unsupported speculation,
without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of
summary judgment. See Dash v. Mayweather, 731 F.3d
303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013); Stone v. Liberty Mut. Ins.
Co., 105 F.3d 188, 191 (4th Cir. 1997).
Withrow, Taylor, and Hill move for summary judgement as to
all claims made against them in the Complaint: (Count II)
violations of the Eighth Amendment based on conditions of
confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (Count V)
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and (Count VI)
Negligence. The Defendants raise qualified immunity as a
defense to the Eighth Amendment claim (Count II) and the
Negligence claim (Count VI).
Eighth Amendment and Federal Qualified Immunity
1983 subjects to civil liability any person who, acting under
color of state law, deprives an individual of his or her
constitutional or federal rights. Qualified immunity is
“an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to
liability.” Mitche l v.
Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985). Thus, “immunity
is a threshold issue which the court addresses before
considering any of the defendants’ proffered
substantive bases for summary judgment.” Weigle v.
Pifer, 139 F.Supp. 3d 760, 768 (S.D. W.Va. 2015) (citing
Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 200 (2001)). Under
the doctrine of qualified immunity, “[g]overnmental
officials performing discretionary functions are shielded
from liability for money damages so long ‘as their
conduct does not violate clearly ...