United States District Court, D. Delaware
EARL D. MOORE, III, Plaintiff,
LAMONT WRIGHT, et al., Defendants.
D. Moore, III, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Ophelia Michelle Waters, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for
Defendants Lamont Wright and Stephen Brackett.
ANDREWS, U.S. Judge.
Earl D. Moore, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center, Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3). When he commenced this action,
Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee housed at the Howard R.
Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Delaware.
Plaintiff appears pro se and has been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. Defendants Lamont
Wright and Stephen Brackett move to dismiss or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment. (D.I. 28). Briefing is
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Complaint alleges that on July 3, 2014, Wright maced
Plaintiff through a door flap for the actions of another
inmate. (D.I. 3). Plaintiff alleges that the next day,
Brackett saw Plaintiff falling flat on his stomach and unable
to move. Brackett stepped over Plaintiffs body and conducted
a cell check, stepped back over Plaintiff, and left the cell.
to the evidence submitted, on June 26, 2014, while a
pre-trial detainee at the HRYCI, Plaintiff and two other
offenders refused to remove their blankets during a headcount
on the housing unit. (D.I. 29 at Ex. A p.4). Prison standard
operating procedures require the correctional officer to see
"Living, Breath, Flesh." (Id.). Plaintiff
testified that he did not comply with the order, and he
received a disciplinary write-up after refusing to obey
several direct commands to remove his blanket. (Id.;
D.I. 29 at Ex. H p.23). Plaintiff was removed from his cell
by the Quick Response Team, taken to the disciplinary housing
unit, and charged with disorderly or threatening behavior.
(D.I. 29 at Ex. Ap.1).
3, 2014, while still housed in the disciplinary unit,
Plaintiff and another inmate were violently kicking their
cell doors. (Id. at Ex. B). Plaintiff was kicking
the door because he wanted his legal papers that were in his
property bag. (Id.). Plaintiff admits that he kicked
the door. (D.I. 29 at Ex. H p.41). A correctional officer
went to the cell and saw damage to one of the cell doors.
(D.I. 29 at Ex. B). Plaintiff was ordered to stop kicking the
door. (Id.). Wright spoke to both inmates and told
them their behavior would not be tolerated. (Id.).
According to the disciplinary report, as Wright left to
contact Lt. Emig, both inmates began kicking the doors again.
(Id.). Emig ordered Wright to spray both inmates
with Vexor if the kicking commenced. (Id.).
Plaintiff testified that he was warned he would be maced if
he kicked again. (D.I. 29 at Ex. H p.45). According to the
disciplinary report, when both inmates again kicked the
doors, Wright sprayed a two to three second burst of Vexor
into each of their cells, and Plaintiff stopped kicking the
door. (D.I. 29 at Ex. B). Plaintiff testified that he did not
continue to kick the door and was maced "for
nothing". (D.I. 29 at Ex. B; Ex. H at p. 45). Plaintiff
was charged with disorderly or threatening behavior. (D.I. 29
at Ex. B). Medical records indicate that Plaintiff was seen
on July 3, 2014 after he was sprayed and had no complaints
except burning due to the spray. (D.I. 30 at p.6).
testified that the next morning, July 4, 2014, Brackett told
Plaintiff to get out of bed and cuff up. (D.I. 29 at Ex. H
p.85). Plaintiff testified that he tried to get out of bed
and fell on the floor. (Id.). Plaintiff was seen by
medical staff the next day. (D.I. 30, p. 19). He told medical
staff that he had noticed pain in the afternoon and evening
of July 3, 2014, and he was offered a sick call slip around
1:00 p.m. on July 4, 2014. (Id.). He was next seen
on July 10, 2014. (Id. at pp.6 & 14). He
complained of back pain on July 17, 2014, and was given
medication to treat the pain. (Id.).
9, 2014, Plaintiff was found guilty of disorderly or
threatening behavior and sanctioned to isolated confinement
for 45 days. (Id. at Ex. C). Plaintiff appealed, and
the decision was reviewed and affirmed. (Id. at Ex.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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). The moving party has the initial burden
of proving the absence of a genuinely disputed material fact
relative to the claims in question. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). Material facts are
those "that could affect the outcome" of the
proceeding, and "a dispute about a material fact is
'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181
(3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The burden on the
moving party may be discharged by pointing out to the
district court that there is an absence of evidence
supporting the non-moving party's case. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to the non-movant to
demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue for trial.
Matsushita Bee. Indus, v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Williams v. Borough of West
Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989). A
non-moving party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed
must support such an assertion by: "(A) citing to
particular parts of materials in the record, including
depositions, documents, electronically stored information,
affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions,
interrogatory answers, or other materials; or (B) showing
that the materials cited [by the opposing party] do not
establish the absence ... of a genuine dispute .. .."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). When determining whether a genuine
issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007);
Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007).
A dispute is "genuine" only if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-49. If
the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of its case with respect to which it has
the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
Defendants filed their motion and Plaintiff had not timely
responded, the Court issued an order for Plaintiff to file an
answering brief. (D.I. 32). Plaintiff's opposition to
Defendants' motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for
summary judgment consists of the sole statement,
"Plaintiff hereby move[s] this Honorable Court to uphold
the complaint pursuant [to] Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. Rule 15(a),
28 U.S.C.A." (D.I. 35). Attached to that sentence is
Plaintiffs proposed order, which states Defendants used
unjustified force, their conduct was unprofessional and
inappropriate, and ...