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Brader v. Wolfe

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

July 3, 2013

JOHN ERNEST BRADER SR., #297286, Plaintiff,


DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Procedural History

This prisoner civil rights Complaint, filed on February 22, 2013, raised a failure-to-protect claim alleging that while housed at the Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") Plaintiff is being targeted by the Black Guerilla Family ("BGF") and Bloods gangs due to an alleged debt. Plaintiff claims that the BGF has discovered where his family lives and has threatened his brother. He complained that he continues to receive notes from BGF members even though he is not in general population. Plaintiff voiced his fear of physical harm and sought a transfer from JCI to a more "structure oriented prison." He alleged that JCI is "total chaos." (ECF No. 1).

On March 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Injunctive Relief. He alleged that although he is housed on administrative segregation/protective custody status, he continues to receive verbal and written threats from the BGF. He additionally claimed that the Special Threat Group ("STG") has acquired the addresses and telephone numbers of family members and have contacted them. Plaintiff seeks immediate transfer to another institution, where "he will not continue to receive threats from members of the [BGF]..." (ECF No. 4).

Defendants were ordered to file a response to the Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief and have done so. (ECF No. 13). On May 30, 2013, the Court construed the response as a motion for summary judgment and informed Plaintiff of the re-characterization and his right to file an opposition response. He was granted an additional seventeen days to do so. (ECF Nos. 14 & 15). On June 7, 2013, he filed an opposition response. (ECF No. 16). The case is ready for court consideration. Oral hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For reasons that follow, the Motion for Injunctive Relief shall be denied and judgment shall be entered in favor of Defendants.

Standard of Review

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a):

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. 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 court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.

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) (emphasis in original). 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." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"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 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)).

Because summary judgment is a final adjudication on the merits, courts must employ the device cautiously. See Hulsey v. State of Texas, 929 F.2d 168, 170 (5th Cir. 1991). In prisoner selfrepresented cases, courts must be careful to "guard against premature truncation of legitimate lawsuits merely because of unskilled presentations." Jackson v. Cain, 864 F.2d 1235, 1241 (5th Cir. 1989) ( quoting Murrell v. Bennett, 615 F.2d 306, 311 (5th Cir. 1980)).

According to Defendants, Plaintiff was assigned to administrative segregation on February 4, 2012, while incarcerated at the Eastern Correctional Institution due to his claims that he had been threatened by members of the BGF. (ECF No. 13 at Ex. 1, Karanja Decl. and pgs. 4-6). He informed prison personnel that the BGF members were attempting to collect a debt and he feared for his safety. ( Id. ). An investigation was conducted into Plaintiff's claim. Three days later he was removed from segregation and placed back in general ...

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