JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.
Pending is a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment filed on behalf of defendants Kathleen S. Green and Robert B. Hanke. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff has responded (ECF Nos. 21 & 23) and defendants have filed a reply. ECF No. 22. 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, construed as a motion for summary judgment, will be GRANTED.
Tinsley, a self-represented inmate currently housed at the Maryland Correctional Training Center ("MCTC"), initiated these proceedings alleging that defendants Kathleen S. Green, the Warden of Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), and Robert B. Hanke, the Assistant Warden of ECI, violated his constitutional rights by indefinitely suspending his visiting privileges. Plaintiff states that he was charged with an inmate rule infraction on April 18, 2011, for events occurring the preceding day. He states that his visiting privileges were rescinded by a memo issued by Hanke on April 28, 2011, but plaintiff was not found guilty of a rule violation until May 24, 2011. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages as well as a declaration that the acts described in his complaint violated his rights and an injunction directing defendants to reverse the May 24, 2011, guilty finding. ECF No. 1.
The record evidence demonstrates that on April 17, 2011, plaintiff was found in possession of heroin hidden in a glove in his cell. ECF No. 12, Ex. 1; ECF No. 22, Ex. 2. He was served with notice of an inmate rule infraction. ECF No. 22, Ex. 2. Plaintiff admitted to being in possession of the glove and its contents. ECF No. 12, Ex. 3 and ECF No. 22, Ex. 2.
On April 28, 2011, having found that allowing visitation with plaintiff would jeopardize the safety and security of the institution, Hanke suspended plaintiff's visitation privileges for conspiring to introduce contraband into the institution. ECF No. 22, Exs. 4 & 6. Plaintiff was advised that he could appeal the loss of visitation within five days of receipt of Hanke's letter. A copy of the letter was sent to the Regional Assistant Commissioner of Corrections. ECF No. 22, Ex. 6. Defendants contend that plaintiff did not appeal the suspension of visitation to the warden. ECF No. 12, Exs. 4 & 5; ECF No. 22, Ex. 7. Plaintiff disputes this contention, noting that he endeavored to appeal the denial of visitation through review in the Circuit Court for Somerset County. ECF No. 21.
On May 24, 2011, after a hearing, plaintiff was found guilty of a Rule 114 violation (possession of contraband), by Hearing Officer Mack and sanctioned to 365 days segregation beginning April 17, 2011, loss of 500 good conduct credits, and loss of 365 days visitation from May 24, 2011, to May 23, 2012. ECF No. 12, Exs. 1 & 2. Plaintiff's appeal of the hearing officer's decision was denied by Hanke. Id., Ex. 6.
Plaintiff filed two grievances regarding the disciplinary hearing. ECF No. 22, Ex. 2. He complained that he could not be sanctioned to loss of visitation by the hearing officer because it violated his Fifth Amendment right (double jeopardy), given that Hanke had already sanctioned him to loss of visitation. Id. In neither grievance did plaintiff claim his rights were violated by Hanke denying his visitation privilege without a hearing. Id.
On August 10, 2012, plaintiff was transferred to MCTC. ECF No. 22, Ex. 8. On December 27, 2012, after pleading guilty to a Rule 105 violation (possession of a weapon), plaintiff was sanctioned to an indefinite loss of visitation. ECF No. 12, Ex. 7. On January 7, 2013, plaintiff requested reinstatement of his visitation privileges to MCTC's Warden Morgan. ECF No. 22, Ex. 8. Morgan denied the request, noting that plaintiff received a mandatory indefinite loss of visits effective December 27, 2012, due to the weapons violation. The Warden further noted this was plaintiff's third mandatory loss of visitation privileges and advised plaintiff that he was not eligible to apply for reinstatement of privileges at that time but could reapply for reinstatement of visitation in June 2014-eighteen months after the loss of visitation imposed due to the December 2012 infraction. Id. Plaintiff has not suffered a permanent loss of visitation, mail, or telephone privileges. ECF No. 12, Exs. 1, 4 & 7.
Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), which provides: "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.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
"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 nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her 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 ...