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Date: 01-13-2023

Case Style:

Michael Derrick Edwards v. White, et al.

Case Number: 7:19-cv-00324

Judge: Thomas T. Cullen

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Roanoke County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Stacie Ann Sessoms

Description: Roanoke, Virginia prisoner civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who claimed that the Defendants claiming that they violated his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

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Edwards filed this action against several security staff members and medical personnel, related to a November 2018 incident when officers used force against Edwards and later placed him in five-point restraints. The allegations underlying this action have been recounted in numerous court opinions and orders (see, e.g., Mem. Op. pgs. 1-5, Mar. 10, 2020 [ECF No. 136]; Mem. Op. pgs. 1-4, Oct. 30, 2020 [ECF No. 215]) and the court will not fully repeat them here. Instead, the court will briefly summarize the evidence relevant to Edwards's partial motion for summary judgment.

         It is undisputed that on November 27, 2018, Edwards was involved in an altercation with staff that resulted in him being bitten by a canine in several places and ultimately placed in five-point restraints for nearly 16 hours. How the incident arose is in dispute. Edwards claims that an officer initiated the altercation by pushing Edwards into a fence, “face first.” (Second Am. Compl. at 4 [ECF No. 126].) According to the audio recordings of Edwards's resulting disciplinary charge hearings, the altercation commenced when Edwards was “verbally abusive,” “aggressive,” failed to comply with orders, and “struck” an officer “multiple times with a closed fist to the face.” (Disciplinary Audio Recording RNCC-2018-1399 & 1405 [ECF No. 300].) Edwards claims that he only “punched” one officer in the face in order to “defend” himself. (Second Am. Compl. at 4.) The disciplinary hearing audio recordings reflect, however, that Edwards struck and kicked multiple officers and canines. (Disciplinary Audio Recordings RNCC-2018-1399-1405 [ECF No. 300].)

         In any event, there is no dispute that, during the incident, officers deployed a canine to subdue Edwards, and Edwards suffered wounds to his back. Edwards claims, though, that the wounds were “open wounds” (2d Am. Compl. at 5), while medical staff counters that the two wounds on his back were “superficial lacerations-not open/gaping wounds” (see, e.g., Decl. of Teresa Payne, R.N. ¶ 39, June 4, 2021 [ECF No. 253-3]). The defendants assert that Edwards “was restrained after [he] failed to submit to officer commands and after he had punched officer(s),” and that they did not use “any force greater than what was necessary, excused, or justified” to restrain Edwards. (Answer ¶ 20 [ECF No. 162].)

         There is no dispute that after the altercation, Edwards received medical treatment; indeed, video footage submitted by the defendants shows that Edwards was transported to the medical department by at least 14 officers. (Video RNCC11271814085777 [ECF No. 209].) Disciplinary hearing audio recordings reflect that Edwards assaulted an officer by kicking him in the knee during this transport. (Disciplinary Audio Recordings RNCC-2018-1406 [ECF No. 300].) Edwards states that while in the medical department, he “never resisted or needed to be restrained at any point.” (Second Am. Compl. at 5.) The video evidence shows that while Edwards was in the medical department, he was always surrounded by between four and seven officers. (See Videos RNCC11271814085771 & RNCC11271814085776 [ECF No. 209].) After receiving medical treatment, Edwards was placed in five-point restraints at approximately 5:20 p.m. (Video 11-27-18 CAMERA 59 MED ISO 2 [ECF No. 209].) Edwards asserts that Capt. Blevins made the decision to place him in five-point restraints. (Second Am. Compl. at 5.)

         After the restraints were secured, Nurse Parks inspected the restraints and determined that there were “no contraindications for the restraints and [that] no restraints were placed over any of [Edwards's] wounds.” (Decl. of Lisa Parks, RN ¶ 11, Jul. 16, 2020 [ECF No. 1871].) Edwards claims that, approximately 20 minutes after his placement in the restraints, Assistant Warden White and Capt. Blevins entered the cell where Edwards was restrained to ask him about what had happened. Edwards argues that Assistant Warden White failed to order his release from the five-point restraints even though the “immediacy of the disturbance was at an end” and Edwards did not “exhibit[] any threatening behavior to the safety and security of himself, the nurses, or the officers” immediately before his placement in the restraints. (Second Am. Compl. at 6.) The court notes that video evidence shows that from the time of the initial altercation to the time he was placed in five-point restraints, Edwards had between 4 and 14 officers surrounding him.

         Edwards asserts that around 6:20 p.m., approximately one hour after his placement in the restraints, Officers Musick and J. Murray came to Edwards's cell and asked if he wanted a restraint break. Edwards states that although he said he wanted a break, the officers “turned to the camcorder and stated that [Edwards] refused” the break.[2]

         Video evidence shows that at 8:34 p.m., an officer offered Edwards a restraint break. (Video RNCC11271814085772 [ECF No. 209].) Although Edwards cannot be seen in the video, the officer indicates that Edwards refused the break. (Id.)

         At 9:00 p.m., a nurse “performed a shift assessment and restraint assessment on” Edwards and noted that he “refused to be released from the five-point restraints at that time.” (Parks Decl. ¶ 15.)

         Video evidence also shows that at 10:34 p.m., officers entered Edwards's cell because he had “wiggled out” of his chest strap. (Video RNCC11271814085773 [ECF No. 209].) The officers re-adjusted the strap and a nurse re-checked the restraints for proper application. (Id.) Also during this encounter, Edwards asked to use the bathroom, but his request was denied. (Id.)

         At 1:00 a.m. on November 28, a nurse performed a “neurology check” and documented that Edwards was able to “move all extremities and there were no complaints of pain or distress.” (Parks Decl. ¶ 16.)

         Video evidence shows that at 3:10 a.m. on November 28, Edwards was offered another restraint break, and this time he accepted the offer. (Video RNCC11271814085774 [ECF No. 209].) During the restraint break, he also used the bathroom. At 3:20 AM, a nurse performed a “restraint assessment and neurology check” and documented that Edwards was “able to move all extremities.” (Parks Decl. at ¶ 17.) The nurse noted that the five-point restraints were “released” for “range of motion purposes” and then “appropriately” reapplied. (Id.)

         Finally, video evidence shows that at 9:00 a.m., just under 16 hours from the initial application, Edwards was released from the five-point restraints for “preparation for transfer to Red Onion [State Prison].” (Video RNCC11271814085775 [ECF No. 209].)

         In support of his partial motion for summary judgment against defendants White, J. Murray, Musick, and Blevins, Edwards argues that the defendants subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by placing him five-point restraints while he had “open wounds” on his back and keeping him there even though he was not a threat to himself or anyone else. Edwards also contends that the officers only gave him one break. Finally, Edwards argues that although two of the defendants were present for 12 hours of his confinement in the restraints, he was given “no process.”...

Outcome: 01/13/2023 317  STIPULATION of Dismissal by Michael Derrick Edwards (Beers, Paul)
01/13/2023 318  Clerks Entry of Dismissal with prejudice Pursuant to FRCP 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) (aab)

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