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Young-Bey v. Whitacre

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

May 13, 2013

SERGEANT WHITACRE, et al., Defendants


J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Pending is a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment filed on behalf of defendants Bobby Shearin, M. Stallings and A. Whitacre.[1] ECF No. 20. Plaintiff has responded. ECF Nos. 29 & 34.[2] Upon review of papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss, construed as a motion for summary judgment, will be GRANTED.


Young-Bey a self-represented inmate, housed at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), initiated these proceedings by claiming that correctional employees have interfered with his efforts to file grievances concerning prison conditions. ECF No. 1. By way of court-directed supplemental complaint he states that defendants Whitacre and Sutton, on or about October 30, 2010, filed false disciplinary charges against him stating that he had violated prison policy by using the prison legal library. He states that he was ordered to permanently cease and desist use of the prison library. ECF No. 3. He seeks damages and injunctive relief "enjoin[ing] defendants from arbitrarily and capriciously denying plaintiff's use of the prison legal library, [and] from all acts interfering with plaintiff's rights." Id.

Defendants provide evidence that NBCI is equipped with two types of libraries; the main library, which is for the general population of inmates, and the "in-house" library which is specific to each unit. ECF No. 20, Ex. 2. Both libraries are equipped with legal materials; however the main library's collection is more extensive. The main library is accessible to inmates on the day their housing unit is scheduled to visit or by an inmate's request on Thursday or Friday. On Thursdays and Fridays an inmate may visit the main library for an extended periods of time if he has requested a pass. Heubner, NBCI's librarian, avers that this type of visit to the library is sometimes referred to as "legal library." Id. Inmates on cell-restriction at NBCI are permitted to attend legal library but are not permitted to participate in out of cell activities not related to programming including regular library visitation. Id., Ex. 1, p. 19.

Plaintiff states that Wedlock and Huebner unofficially amended the inmate handbook in November, 2010 to "fabricate their defense." ECF No. 29. He further states that on October 31, 2010, defendant Stallings opened plaintiff's cell door and stated that plaintiff was free to use the inhouse library if he chose. He states that after using the library for an hour and a half, Stallings charged him with being out of bounds. Id.

On October 30, 2010, plaintiff was observed filling a shampoo bottle with sanitation chemical in the sanitation closet and then returning to his cell. ECF No. 20, Ex. 1, 16. The chemicals were retrieved and discarded and plaintiff was served with notice of inmate rule violation. He agreed to an informal disposition of the charge resulting in 30 days cell restriction. On October 31, 2010, M. Stallings, C.O. II observed plaintiff leave his cell and go to the in-house library. As plaintiff was on cell restriction due to the prior day's infraction, he was not permitted to visit this library and was charged with violating Rule 402, informally referred to as an "out of bounds violation." Defendant Whitacre served plaintiff with the notice of rule violation. Plaintiff refused an informal disposition and instead proceeded to a formal hearing. Id. Ex. 1, p. 17

Plaintiff filed three administrative grievance dated October 31, 2010. The first addressed the circumstances surrounding the October 30, 2011, informal disposition resulting in the 30 day cell restriction. Id., Ex. 1 & 3. The other grievances complained that he was being denied access to the legal library. All ARPs were accepted for processing; the second ARP regarding denial of access to the legal library was dismissed as duplicative. Id., Ex. 3. Plaintiff states that he submitted a fourth ARP alleging that the ARP process itself was unavailable and inadequate but Whitacre refused to process that ARP. ECF No. 29. Between October 24, 2007 and November 16, 2010, plaintiff filed 16 ARPs which were logged in and processed. ECF No. 20, Ex. 3.

In ARP NBCI 3272-10 concerning access to the legal library, plaintiff complained he was prevented from using "the in-house library search legal facility until my cell restriction expires." Id., Ex. 1. He also claimed that the restriction was in violation of the NBCI Inmate handbook regarding exemptions to cell restriction. Lieutenant Wedlock investigation plaintiff's complaint and interviewed plaintiff on November 29, 2010. He also spoke with librarian Heubner who verified that the term "legal library" referred only to when an inmate was put on the pass-list for the main library. Warden Shearin denied plaintiff's ARP, explaining that inmates on cell restriction are not permitted access to the in-house library but plaintiff could access the legal library by verifying an "active case with deadline through case manager then be placed on [the] pass list for main library." Id. Defendants aver that they never denied plaintiff access to legal materials. Id., Ex. 4-6. The record evidence demonstrates that plaintiff appeared on the pass list for legal library on November 4, 2010, but did not go. Id., Ex. 2. Plaintiff states that at no time did he refuse to use the legal library. ECF No. 29.

Standard of Review

A. Motion to Dismiss

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) (6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). The dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted does not require defendant to establish "beyond doubt" that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561-62 (2007). Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint. Id. at 562. The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v. Charles County Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, see United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).

In reviewing the complaint in light of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6) the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005); Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997); Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26 (4th Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint need only satisfy the "simplified pleading standard" of Rule 8(a)).

The Supreme Court of the United States explained a "plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Nonetheless, the complaint does not need "detailed factual allegations" to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. Instead, "once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in ...

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