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Shaidon Blake v. Gary Maynard et al

May 10, 2012

SHAIDON BLAKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GARY MAYNARD ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alexander Williams, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Shaidon Blake brings this action against Defendants Michael Ross and James Madigan. Plaintiff asserts § 1983 claims for excessive force and deliberate indifference. Outstanding are Plaintiff's Motion to Strike and Defendant Michael Ross's Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court has reviewed the entire record and finds no hearing necessary. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Strike and GRANTS Defendant Ross's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This case arises from a beating Plaintiff sustained at the hands of a prison guard. Plaintiff Shaidon Blake, a/k/a Shamvoy Smith, is an inmate of the Maryland Division of Correction (DOC). Defendants James Madigan and Michael Ross are prison guards and were involved in the series of events leading to the instant dispute. Although Blake sued other individuals in his initial Complaint, the Court has erstwhile dismissed them. See Doc. No. 32 at 8--9.

On June 21, 2007, Blake received a notice of infraction based on allegations that he interrupted the orderly use of the telephone in Maryland Reception, Diagnostic, and Classification Center (MRDCC) Unit 7C. In connection with this incident, Madigan and Blake went to Blake's cell, handcuffed him, and escorted him out of his cell. Ross held Blake by the arm and Blake offered no resistance. Ross and Blake proceeded to the concrete staircase that leads to the lower part of Unit 7C with Madigan trailing behind. The trio reached the staircase and started to descend, whereupon Madigan shoved Blake from behind. Ross thereupon told Madigan that he had Blake under control.

Eyewitness accounts diverge sharply at this point. In essence, Defendants contend that the trio stopped moving toward the segregation unit and Madigan "unexpectedly punched Mr. Blake in the face several times in quick succession." Doc. No. 94-1 at 6. In contrast, Blake asserts that there was a "clear buildup to the assault at issue." Doc. No. 96 at 4. After this alleged buildup, Blake contends that Madigan punched him in the face several times with a "fist clenched over a key ring." Id. Blake also asserts that there were intermittent pauses during the assault.

Madigan then ordered the hallway officer, Latia Woodard, to mace Blake, which she refused. Instead, Woodard issued a "Signal 13" code over the radio, thereby summoning the assistance of other correctional officers.

The Parties' stories diverge at this point as well. The Parties agree that, in one way or the other, Ross took Blake to the ground. Defendants assert that Ross and Madigan "attempted to bring Mr. Blake to the floor" and that the three tripped and fell during the process. Doc. No. 94-1 at 7. Ross's alleged motive in taking Blake to the floor was to "demonstrate control over Mr. Blake so that the other arriving officers would not continue to escalate the use of force against Mr. Blake." Id. For his part, Blake insists that Madigan and Ross picked him up and slammed him violently to the ground on his head. Doc. No. 96 at 5. Blake further asserts that Ross "dropped his knee on Blake's chest." Id.

Thereafter, Blake was taken to the medical unit. Blake received a preliminary examination, after which he returned to his cell. The incident was referred to the Internal Investigative Unit (IIU) of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). The IIU conducted an investigation and completed a comprehensive report. The IIU report concluded, inter alia, that Madigan used excessive force during the incident described above. Consequently, Madigan was charged with various violations, a process that culminated in his entering into a settlement agreement pursuant to which he resigned in lieu of being fired.

On September 8, 2009, Blake filed a pro se Complaint asserting a § 1983 claim based on Madigan's attack and the surrounding events. Doc. No. 1. On February 4, 2010, Ross, among others, filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (Motion to Dismiss).*fn1 On September 9, 2012, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion that, while granting the Motion in relation to other Defendants, denied it as to Ross. Doc. No. 32. In this Opinion, the Court rejected the contention that Ross was entitled to qualified immunity, concluding that genuine issues of material fact existed concerning whether he had unconstitutionally failed to intervene. See id. at 7--8.

On August 2, 2011, Ross filed a Consent Motion for Leave to Amend his Answer to the Complaint (Consent Motion to Amend Answer). Doc. No. 66. Ross's proposed amended answer asserted some new defenses, including that Ross had failed to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Later that month, despite having consented to Ross's amendment, Blake filed a Motion to Strike Certain of Ross's Affirmative Defenses (Motion to Strike Certain Defenses), arguing that Ross waived the right to raise them by failing to do so earlier in the proceeding. Doc. No. 74. Ross subsequently lodged an Amended Complaint via consent motion, thus mooting his Motion to Strike Certain Defenses. See Doc. Nos. 78-1, 85. Ross answered the Amended Complaint. Doc. No. 84. Ross's answer restates the affirmative defense of failing to exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA.

On October 24, 2011, Blake filed a Motion to Strike Defendant Ross's Fifth Affirmative Defense (Motion to Strike). Doc. No. 87. In this Motion, as in the Motion to Strike Certain Defenses, Blake seeks to strike Ross's PLRA defense on a waiver theory.

On January 9, 2012, Ross filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. No. 94. Ross presses two primary arguments in this Motion. The first is that Blake failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The second is that the evidence is insufficient to support Blake's ยง 1983 excessive force and deliberate indifference claims. Blake responded to Ross's ...


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