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Pumphrey v. Coakley

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

October 21, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          IRENE C. BERGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court has reviewed the Complaint (Document 2), wherein the Plaintiff alleges claims of excessive force, conspiracy, audio torture, food tampering, failure to intervene, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, mail tampering/access to court, and violation of the administrative remedy process.

         By Standing Order (Document 5) entered on October 28, 2015, this action was referred to the Honorable R. Clarke VanDervort, United States Magistrate Judge, for submission to this Court of proposed findings of fact and recommendation for disposition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. Due to the retirement of Magistrate Judge VanDervort, the matter was referred to the Honorable Omar J. Aboulhosn for findings of fact and recommendations for disposition by an Order entered on January 6, 2016.

         On January 30, 2018, the Magistrate Judge submitted Proposed Findings and Recommendations (PF&R) (Document 106), wherein it was recommended that the Court grant the Defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative motion for summary judgment in part and deny the motion in part. The Plaintiff's Objections to Proposed Findings and Recommendation (Document 119) were filed on April 12, 2018. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the Plaintiff's objections should be overruled in part and sustained in part and that the Defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative motion for summary judgment should be granted in part and denied in part.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Magistrate Judge's PF&R sets forth the factual and procedural background of this case in detail. The Court hereby incorporates those factual findings, but to provide context for the ruling contained herein, provides the following summary.

         On September 7, 2016, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Document 70) and accompanying Judgement Order (Document 72) dismissing the Plaintiff's complaint and striking the matter from the Court's docket. On September 14, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal (Document 76). On April 11, 2017, the Fourth Circuit entered an Unpublished Per Curiam Opinion (Document 81) and Judgment (Document 82) vacating the judgment of the District Court and remanding it for further proceedings.

         On remand, the Magistrate Judge submitted a Proposed Findings and Recommendation (Document 106) on January 30, 2018. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Defendants' motion be denied as to (1) the Plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (2) the Plaintiff's claim of excessive force against Defendant Coleman and Defendant Harvey; and (3) the Defendants' request for Plaintiff's IFP status to be revoked. The Magistrate Judge recommended, however, that the motion be granted and the Plaintiff's claims be dismissed regarding 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. On March 16, 2018, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Document 109) finding that the Defendants' limited objections should be overruled and the Magistrate Judge's PF&R should be adopted.

         On March 21, 2018, five days after the Court entered its memorandum opinion and order, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Extend Time/Affidavit (Document 114) requesting an extension of time to file objections to the PF&R due to hospitalization and surgery. The Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Time (Document 115) was filed on March 23, 2018. The Plaintiff's Answer to Defendants' Opposition of Motion to Extend Time (Document 117) was filed on March 30, 2018. Then on April 12, 2018, the Plaintiff's Objections to Proposed Findings and Recommendation (Document 119) were filed. Although the Plaintiff's objections were filed untimely, for good cause shown, the Court will consider the Plaintiff's objections to the PF&R.

         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 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).

         DISCUSSION

         The Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate's finding that the effect of six-month long “torture” was “de minimis.”[1] (Objections at 2.) The Plaintiff acknowledges that the Magistrate Judge arrived at this finding by accepting the Plaintiff's statement of the facts as true. The Plaintiff disagrees, however, with the ...


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