Supreme Court finds prisoner's vibrating implant claim is frivolous

By Nathan Bass | Feb 5, 2013

CHARLESTON – The state’s high court has affirmed the dismissal of a state prisoner’s complaint alleging that officials at Huttonsville Correctional Center did not provide adequate treatment regarding his belief that he has “a vibration in my body that feels like a pager vibrating.”

The Jan. 25 memorandum opinion was concurred in by all five justices of the court.

Petitioner Sanders Brown Jr. had abdominal surgery in 2005 or 2006 while he was in the custody of Mt. Olive Correctional Complex. He alleged that “something was left/dropped in the interior of his body,” but an ultrasound conducted on Dec. 20, 2006, detected nothing, according to the opinion.

He also had a barium enema on Jan. 19, 2007, and EKGs on Aug. 7, 2008, June 10, 2009, and Aug. 17, 2010, but he asserts that all these tests are insufficient to determine whether a foreign object is present in his body.

He filed a pro see complaint in circuit court on Feb. 25, 2011, seeking to have the respondent officials arrange for diagnosis and treatment of the alleged condition. He sought outside consultation and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A supplemental pleading filed by Brown states that it’s possible that “something was implanted intentionally in the Petitioner’s body,” and that “there are needle marks on both sides of the Petitioner’s neck, and the Petitioner himself does not know of these needle marks’ origin.

“Nanodevices can be implanted by needle injection. Technology has come far,” the pleading asserts.

The circuit court granted the prison official’s motion to dismiss in an order dated Oct. 19, 2011. While recognizing that the medical staff may not have run “every conceivable test” to determine the cause of his alleged vibrations, the court found “it is within the sound discretion of the medical staff at a correctional facility to determine what tests are reasonable in light of the circumstances of each inmate complaint.”

On appeal to the state Supreme Court, Brown asserted that contrary to the circuit court’s finding, the officials never ran any kind of test to determine whether there was an object inside his body that could be causing a vibration. Brown asserted that the tests that were run did not address his complaints.

“The abdominal ultrasound was conducted after petitioner’s abdominal surgery. The fact that the abdominal ultrasound was negative would rule out the possibility that something was negligently left or dropped in the interior of petitioner’s body during surgery,” the court wrote.

“As for petitioner’s other theory that an electronic device was intentionally implanted in his body, after careful consideration, this court finds that this is a frivolous claim. Therefore, this court concludes that the circuit court did not err in granting the respondent officials’ motion to dismiss petitioner’s Section 1983 action.

“For the foregoing reasons, we find no error in the decision of the Circuit Court of Randolph County and affirm its October 19, 2011 order dismissing petitioner’s action.”

A letter sent to the state Division of Corrections on Aug. 31, 2011, from Brown requested an investigation.

"Myself and other inmates all over the United States are complaining about a technology that can induce audio and visual perception that isn't apparent to others," he wrote.

"It seems to oppres and harass with ill-treatment and to annoy persistently through communication and visuals only the targeted inmates can hear and see."

Brown was convicted of First Degree Murder in 2001 and has a parole hearing in 2015, according to his page on the state Division of Corrections' website.

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