The opinion of the court was delivered by: George L. Russell, III United States District Judge
On June 8, 2012, Plaintiff Morris J. Pettigrew, Sr., filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive arising from his incarceration at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. Plaintiff states that while housed at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") on January 16, 2011, Defendants Rolley and Bright conducted a random cell search, during which they read and confiscated his legal paperwork in retaliation for his questioning various officers about access to the medical department in the facility. ECF No. 1. He claims that his paperwork and other property were taken to a closet before it was taken to the ECI property room. Plaintiff alleges that despite his repeated oral and written requests for access to the legal papers, his requests were denied or he was told that Defendant Revel, the property officer, would call him. Id.
Plaintiff additionally claims that on January 31, 2011, he was sent to administrative segregation and while so assigned filed two grievances apprising Defendant Warden Kathleen Green of what had previously transpired. ECF No. 1. He contends that he did not receive a response to his grievances. Plaintiff additionally claims that the state appellate court informed him that he had until March 7, 2011, to file a petition in his criminal case, but because he was repeatedly denied requested access to his materials, he missed the filing deadline. He alleges that his legal paperwork was not returned to him until May 5, 2011. Id.
All named Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment*fn2 and Plaintiff has filed an Opposition thereto.*fn3 ECF Nos. 19 & 21. The matter is ready for consideration and may be determined without oral hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).
Because matters outside the pleadings will be considered, Defendants' Motion shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), which provides that: "The 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 Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion:
By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
The "party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment 'may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather must 'set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to . . . the non-movant, and draw all reasonable inferences in [his] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644--45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778--79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986)).
In Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion for summary judgment, the "judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. Thus, "the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Id. at 252.
The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. No genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof. SeeCelotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322--23. Therefore, on those issues on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.