United States District Court, D. Delaware
21, 2011, Plaintiff Pedro Chairez ("Chairez")
initiated this pro se lawsuit against Defendants
employed at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
("JTVCC"). (D.I. 1.) Chairez brought this suit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive force,
unreasonable conditions of confinement, violation of his Due
Process rights, and unreasonable search and seizure.
(Id.) Chairez filed two Amended Complaints to add
Defendants, Lieutenant Reynolds (D.I. 11) and Deputy Warden
Pierce ("Pierce"). (D.I. 49.) To date, the
remaining defendants in this action are Lieutenant Mark Daum
("Daum"), Lieutenant Brian Reynolds
("Reynolds"), former Warden Perry Phelps
("Phelps"), and former Deputy Warden Pierce
before the court is a Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment on all of Plaintiffs claims. (D.I. 71.) For the
reasons that follow, the court will grant Defendants'
Motion as to the Due Process and search and seizure claims
and deny Defendants' Motion as to excessive force and
conditions of confinement claims.
arrived from Arizona at JTVCC in May of 2011. (D.I. 72.)
After Chairez's requests for a transfer back to Arizona
were denied, Chairez's continuous refusals to "cuff
up" resulted in three incidents which led to the instant
action. (D.I. 11.) Chairez and Defendants agree that in each
incident where a pepper agent was used, Chairez had refused
first incident occurred on June 7, 2011 when Chairez refused
to "cuff up" in the exercise yard. (D.I. 72.)
Chairez told officers to "[d]o what you have to do,
I'm not coming out." (Id.) As a result of
his continued refusal to "cuff up, " the Quick
Response Team ("QRT") was deployed to remove
Chairez using pepper balls. Chairez was able to maneuver away
from the pepper balls, but QRT was able to subdue Chairez and
force him to the ground. (Id. at 11.) A nurse was
called to the scene to examine Chairez and she found no
the second incident, on June 8, 2011, Chairez was removed
from his cell after refusing to "cuff up" during a
routine cell search. (Id.) Plaintiff refused to
leave, took off his glasses, and positioned himself in the
back of his cell. (Id.) After refusing to comply
with the cell search, the QRT team was called. (Id.)
Officers did not use force initially. (Id.) After
Chairez refused to cuff up for the QRT, officers sprayed
capstun through the cell and eventually subdued Chairez.
(Id.) Chairez alleges that during the incident
Defendants kicked him in the ribs and hit him with a metal
pipe. (Id.) Medical records reveal Chairez's
injuries consisted of red marks on his back and neck.
(Id.) X-rays taken of Chairez's ribs were
normal. (Id.) Following the incident, Chairez was
placed in confinement where he complains of cold
temperatures, less exercise than normal, and being
unnecessarily placed in 24-hour restraints for observation.
(D.I. 11, ¶ 19-24.) While Chairez was in 24-hour
restraints, he was only wearing boxers, had handcuffs locked
at a ninety degree angle, and wore shackles around his legs
and abdominal region. (D.I. 1 at 5.)
last incident took place on September 27, 2011, when Daum and
an Unknown Officer assisted by the QRT forcibly removed
Chairez from the exercise yard after Chairez refused to
"cuff up." (D.I. 11, ¶ 1.) While lying face
down on the ground surrounded by officers, Chairez asserts an
officer kneed him in the temple multiple times. (D.I. 11,
¶ 3.) According to Chairez, while restrained and not
resisting, Daum emptied a can of pepper spray in his face.
(Id.) Following the incident, Chairez was taken to
medical staff who noted lacerations on his head.
asserts that since his transfer to SHU he has been subject to
three unconstitutional "shake downs" a day where
his cell is searched. (D.I. 11, ¶ 35.) Chairez also
alleges that he never received a disciplinary notice from the
June 8, 2011 incident and was not afforded the right to call
a witness to his disciplinary hearing four months after the
incident. (D.I. 11, ¶ 8.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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 judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Boyle v. Cnty. of Allegheny
Pa., 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). Thus, summary
judgment is appropriate only if the moving party shows there
are no genuine issues of material fact that would permit a
reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party.
Boyle, 139 F.3d at 393. A fact is material only if
it might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986)). An issue is genuine if a reasonable jury
could possibly find in favor of the non-moving party with
regard to that issue. Id.
deciding the motion, the court must construe all facts and
inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Id. In determining the appropriateness of
summary judgment, a court must review the record as a whole
and "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party, [but] may not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
Defendants contend that, based on the available evidence of
record, each of Chairez's claims fails as a ...