United States District Court, D. Delaware
DONALD D. PARKELL, Plaintiff,
ROBERT COUPE, et al., Defendants.
D. Parkell, SCI Retreat, Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, Pro Se
Clemente Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, and Ophelia
Michelle Waters, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
U.S. District Judge
Donald D. Parkell ("Plaintiff), an inmate currently in
the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at
SCI Retreat, in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, proceeds pro
se, and has been granted in forma pauperis
status. Plaintiff was housed at James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center in Smyrna, Delaware, when he commenced this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming
violations of his constitutional rights. (D.I. 3) The Amended
Complaint is the operative pleading. (D.I. 19) Presently
before the Court is the motion for summary judgment of
Defendants Robert Coupe ("Coupe") and Phillip
Morgan ("Morgan") (together "Defendants")
and Plaintiffs opposition thereto. (D.I. 70, 72, 74, 75, 76)
Court's March 19, 2018 Memorandum Opinion contains the
history of this case. (See D.I. 68) The only claim
that remains is the use of four-point restraints during
Plaintiffs October 2013 hospitalization. (See id. at
12) Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to a practice or
policy that denied him adequate medical care in violation of
the Eighth Amendment when Defendants enacted or maintained a
policy or practice that caused him to be held in handcuffs
and shackles in four-point restraints during his
hospitalization. (D.I. 19 at ¶ VII. B. 95) The Amended
Complaint alleges that following an October 2013 assault when
Plaintiff was housed at the Howard R. Young Correctional
Institution ("HRYCI") in Wilmington, Delaware, he
was taken to Christiana Hospital for treatment. (Id.
at ¶¶ 64-65, 68) During the week he was
hospitalized, Plaintiff was held in four-point restraints.
(Id. at ¶ 72) The verified Amended Complaint
alleges that Plaintiff was chained at both ankles and wrists,
forbidden to move at all, and required to urinate in this
manner with one wrist uncuffed only long enough to evacuate
his bladder. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that "this
policy/practice resulted in pain, humiliation, and torture as
a chest-tube was draining fluid from [his] lungs, a cruel and
unusual punishment." (Id.)
his assault, Plaintiff was treated at the HRYCI infirmary for
a laceration to his scalp, rib pain, and for his eyes to be
flushed with eyewash. (D.I. 64 at Ex. B) He was transferred
to Christiana Hospital for treatment of his
injuries. (D.I. 34 at 350, 364; D.I. 64 at Ex. B)
Plaintiff was held in four-point restraints during his
hospitalization. (D.I. 55 at 2) Plaintiff submitted a
grievance complaining that while hospitalized for four days,
with severe trauma to his ribs and lungs, multiple broken
ribs, and a chest tube, he was held in four-point restraints,
which were "painful." (D.I. 56-1 at 223-31) An
investigation determined that Plaintiffs hospitalization and
treatment were "on par with Department Policies and
Procedures" and that Plaintiff was not mistreated by
hospital or security staff. (Id. at 224, 229)
Defendants admit that Plaintiff was held in four-point
restraints for the entire time he was housed at the
Christiana Hospital, with only one cuff released to allow him
to evacuate his body waste in full view of correctional
officers, both male and female. (D.I. 55 at 2)
Standard Operating Procedure ("SOP") 100.08, with
an effective date of January 1, 2001 and revised April 15,
2013, governs the supervision of offenders at hospitals and
other health care facilities by correctional officers. (D.I.
70 at 18, 22-25) SOP 100.08 provides that offenders must be
restrained in four points minimum unless a written
doctor's order specifies three points. (Id.)
Hospitals are unsecure facilities and present challenging
security issues to supervising officers. (Id. at 20)
SOP 100.08 is designed to provide safe, secure, and courteous
correctional supervision of offenders while hospitalized.
(Id. at 22) The policy provides guidelines for
correctional officers in order to prevent an inmate's
escape while hospitalized. (Id. at 23)
orders for three-point restraints must be reviewed by the
HRYCI shift commander, who can override a doctor's order
for security concerns. (Id. at 18, 23) According to
Lt. Brian Vanes ("Vanes"), a correctional officer
at HRYCI, restraining an offender at a hospital in four-point
restraints does not mean that the offender is restrained in
an uncomfortable position or for the purpose of causing
discomfort. (Id.) Typically hands are restrained by
cuffs connected to the sides of the hospital bed, which
permit some movement of the offender's arms.
(Id. at 18-19) Hands are not bound above the
inmate's head. (Id. at 19) Officers typically
use two sets of handcuffs for each arm to provide even
greater movement or flexibility. (Id.) This is done
with two regular handcuffs or one regular set with a set of
flexcuffs. (Id.) Legs are restrained with leg
shackles at the bottom of the bed, not at the corners.
Offenders are not restrained in a "spread eagle"
100.08 requires correctional officers to log information
relative to an offender's hospital stay, including all
movement in and out of the room, use of cuffs and restraints,
and any "special" information and/or instructions
received. (Id. at 22) The logbook for Plaintiffs
hospitalization indicates that he was admitted to Christiana
Hospital on October 13, 2013 and moved to a different room
later that night. It appears that initially Plaintiff was
placed in three-point restraints. (Id. at 28) The
next day, there was a discussion regarding the use of
three-point versus four-point restraints. (Id. at
29) HRYCI Deputy Warden Emig ("Emig") ordered
Plaintiffs placement in four-point restraints at all times.
(Id. at 29) The logbook indicates that Plaintiff was
moved from his bed to a chair on October 14, 15, and 16,
2013. (Id. at 30-32) It further indicates that on
October 16, 2013, Plaintiff was "up to urinate."
(Id. at 32) The logbook also states that
correctional officers used flexcuffs with regular handcuffs
which, according to Vanes, provided maximum comfort and
movement while still maintaining necessary security.
(Id. at 19)
states in his declaration that during the five days he was
hospitalized he had a chest tube. (D.I. 75 at 1) He was under
constant four-point restraints; having his arms cuffed was
painful due to the chest tube. (Id.) Of the three
officers assigned to Plaintiff, one was armed with a handgun.
(Id. at 2) Plaintiff states that he was not
aggressive, disruptive, or agitated, and he was pleasant to
all present. (Id. at 1) Plaintiff complained to
correctional officers and nurses but was told the decision
was "straight from the warden himself. (Id.)
Plaintiff states that nurses "repeatedly told officers
that at least [his] right arm should not be cuffed due to
[his] injuries and the officers told them that it was the
warden's policy [and] they must follow it."
(Id. at 2)
Plaintiff sat in a chair it was under "further"
four-point restraints and it was "in no way a relief
from a slightly different form of the same restraint."
(Id. at 1) Every time Plaintiff needed to evacuate
his bladder or bowels it was in full view of the three
officers, and he was never permitted to access the bathroom.
(Id.) Plaintiff states that he defecated in his bed
and a nurse had to clean him, which was very embarrassing.
move for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiff
fails to allege plausible personal involvement by either
Defendant; and (2) Defendants are shielded from liability by
reason of qualified immunity. (D.I. 70) Plaintiff contends
that summary judgment is not appropriate because: (1) he has
been "thwarted from all relevant discovery
requests"; (2) there are issues of fact regarding: (a)
the personal involvement of Warden Morgan; (b) the use of
three-point restraints versus four-point restraints; (c) the
manner in which he was required to urinate; (d) the manner in
which he was restrained while sitting in a chair; and (e)the
manner Plaintiff was restrained with the use of handcuffs and
flexcuffs; and (3) Vanes' declaration is inadmissible.
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
"[t]he 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." The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See
Matsushita Eke. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986). An assertion that a fact cannot
be - or, alternatively, is - genuinely disputed must be
supported either by "citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of die motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials," or by "showing that the materials
cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine
dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)
& (B). If the moving party has carried its burden, the
nonmovant must then "come forward with specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (internal quotation
marks omitted). The Court will "draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence."
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150 (2000).
defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party
must "do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; see also Podobnik
v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005)
(stating party opposing summary judgment "must present
more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or
suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue")
(internal quotation marks omitted). The "mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not
defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment;" a factual dispute is genuine only where
"the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
"If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted." Id. at 249-50 (internal citations
omitted); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (stating entry of summary judgment is
mandated "against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial"). Thus, the "mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of the
nonmoving party's position is insufficient to defeat a
motion for summary judgment; there must be "evidence on
which the jury could reasonably find" for die nonmoving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.