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Calhoun-El v. Watson

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

July 26, 2013

JAMES CALHOUN-EL, #160083
v.
RANDALL WATSON, et al.

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

James Calhoun-El ("Calhoun-El") brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Warden Bobby Shearin, Director of Northern Region Jon P. Galley, Administrative Commissioner of Division of Correction Randall Watson, Chief of Security Keith Arnold, Lt. Paul Pennington, Lt. Dale Smith, Sgt. Derek Baer, CO II Christopher Preston, CO II Sharon Skelley, CO II Randolph Bennett and CO II Jeffrey Grabenstein (collectively, the "defendants"). ECF No. 1. The defendants, by their counsel, have moved to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment (ECF No. 17), and Calhoun-El has replied. ECF No 23; Exhibits 3 & 4.[1] After reviewing the record, the court finds a hearing is not required to resolve the issues. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).[2] For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion, treated as one for summary judgment, will be granted.

BACKGROUND

1. Plaintiff's Assertions

Calhoun-El, an inmate at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"), is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in addition to declaratory relief. He states that on July 12, 2011, he received an infraction for weapon possession, a violation of institutional rule #115 for possessing a broken cable cord, and was later found not guilty of the infraction.

Calhoun-El states on July 21, 2011, he provided Sgt. Baer with documentation proving medical staff had ordered single inmate cell placement for him. Sgt. Baer informed Calhoun-El that he would be returned to a single cell after his release from segregation housing. Upon release from segregation, however, Calhoun-El was not placed in a single-inmate cell. When Calhoun-El objected and refused housing in a two-inmate cell, he was given a notice of infraction and returned to segregation housing. ECF No. 1, attachment at 6. Calhoun-El claims the medical order for single cell status, which was signed and dated by Dr. Ottey on July 22, 2011, was ignored at the adjustment hearing and he was found guilty of the infraction and received sixty days of disciplinary segregation. ECF No. 1, attachment at 6-7.

Next, Calhoun-El states that on July 29, 2011, he was ordered "cuff up" to accept a cell mate. He refused to comply[3] and was placed in a "contingency cell" by Officers Preston, Skelley, and Grabenstein. See id. at 7. Calhoun-El claims he stayed in the contingency cell for 14 days without a mattress, furniture or other items. Id. He alleges that he was denied medication, medical equipment, clean clothing and bedding, toilet paper, hygiene items, showers, nutritional and hot meals, ARP forms, library, mail, sick-call request forms, exercise, personal papers and books, and Ramadan fasting. Additionally, he complains that he was placed in a mental health unit where the lights remained on 24 hours a day, the windows were sealed, and the cell was infested with bugs. Calhoun-El alleges that he suffered a high fever, nose bleeds, chest pain, weight loss, chronic back pain and loss of mobility in both legs as a result of these conditions. Id. at 7-8. He avers that because of these injuries, he needed a wheelchair on August 11, 2011, to attend court. Id. at 8.

Calhoun-El claims that he filed two Administrative Remedy Procedure requests (ARPs), NBCI #2461-11, and an unnumbered ARP filed on February 24, 2012, [4] in addition to filing appeals regarding those ARPs. He alleges Administrative Commissioner Watson ordered NBCI to discontinue the use of contingency cells.[5]

Calhoun-El states that on February 24, 2012, Lt. Pennington and Officer Bennett placed him in a contingency cell for eight days, without medication, medical equipment, hygiene items, clean clothing, toilet paper, legal paperwork, books, or showers.[6] Id. at 9. He claims he was placed in the cell after he filed "a grievance." ECF No. 23, Exhibit 4, at 5. Calhoun-El claims these conditions caused him chest pain, back injury, a severe nose bleed, worsening of his diabetic neuropathy in both feet, and increases in his AIC glucose level from 6 to 8, and that they necessitated increased diabetes medication and injections for back pain.[7] Id. at 9-10.

2. Defendants' Response

Defendants have filed verified exhibits and declarations to support their dispositive motion. They are summarized below.

A. Declarations

Derek A. Baer is a correctional officer at NBCI. Baer attests that on July 21, 2011, he inventoried Calhoun-El's property prior to Calhoun-El's move from disciplinary segregation to the general prison population. Baer states he "does not recall [Calhoun-El] showing me a single cell medical order." ECF No. 17, Exhibit 5. Baer attests Calhoun-El's property was "inventoried and documented according to the policy and procedures set by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services." Id.
Jeffrey Grabenstein is a correctional officer at NBCI. He states that on July 29, 2011, when he was assigned to "Housing Unit One Segregation Escort, " Calhoun-El refused to have hand restraints applied or to exit cell 1-B-46 in order to have a cell partner placed in the cell. ECF No. 17, Exhibit 6. Calhoun-El was informed by Officer Christopher Preston that he would be receiving an adjustment ticket and escorted to a temporary housing cell. Calhoun-El was then handcuffed and escorted without incident to a temporary housing cell. Grabenstein states temporary housing cells are also referred to as "contingency cells." See id. [8]
Sharon Skelley is a correctional officer at NBCI. She states that on July 29, 2011, when she was assigned to "Housing Unit One Segregation Escort, " Calhoun-El refused to have hand restraints applied or to exit his cell in order to have a cell mate placed in the cell. ECF No. 17, Exhibit 7. Calhoun-El was then informed by Officer Christopher Preston that he would be receiving an adjustment ticket and escorted to a temporary housing cell. Calhoun-El was then handcuffed and escorted to a temporary housing cell without incident. Skelley states temporary housing cells are also referred to as "contingency cells." See id.
Christopher Preston is a correctional officer at NBCI. He states that on July 29, 2011, when he was assigned to "Housing One B-Tier, " Calhoun-El refused to have hand restraints applied or to exit his cell in order to have a cell mate placed in the cell. ECF No. 17, Exhibit 8. Calhoun-El was then informed by Officer Preston that he would be receiving an adjustment and escorted to a temporary housing cell. Calhoun-El was then handcuffed and escorted to a temporary housing cell without incident. Preston states temporary housing cells are also referred to as "contingency cells." See id.
Jason Harbaugh is Institutional Training Administrator for the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission. He has held this position since February of 2012. Prior to that time, he was assigned as the Housing Unit # 1 Manager at NBCI. He states he "never denied James Calhoun-El hygiene items, mattress and his meals that are within the parameters set by the Maryland Division of Correction, the North Branch Correctional Institution, and [m]edical authorities." ECF No. 17, Exhibit 11. He attests that "Calhoun-El, as with any other inmate confined to a segregation tier, was provided with opportunities to receive toilet paper, hygiene items, showers, three daily meals, recreation/exercise, personal property, access to medical and Ramadan fasting." Id. at ¶ 6. Further, Harbaugh states he never withheld mail belonging to Calhoun-El when it complied with departmental and institutional guidelines. Id. at ¶ 7. Harbaugh states Calhoun-El was provided ARP forms "just like every other inmate" housed at NBCI and "to the best of my knowledge and belief, since May 20, 2008 through October 15, 2012, James Calhoun-El has filed a total of one hundred and thirty-five (135) ARP's" through the NBCI Administrative Remedy Office. Id. at ¶ 8. Harbaugh states Housing One C-Tier at NBCI is a segregation tier, not a mental health tier. See id. at ¶ 9. Inmates who refuse housing are placed in a temporary housing cell. See id. at ¶ 10. Lastly, he states that although he was on vacation at the time in question, "it was HU # 1 practice to move inmates who refused to accept their housing assignments to a [t]emporary [h]ousing cell. They would remain there until they were willing to accept a safe suitable housing assignment." Id. at ¶ 11. He states Calhoun-El agreed on August 11, 2011 to move to another cell. Id.
Dale Smith is a correctional officer lieutenant at NBCI. He attests that he has "never denied James Calhoun-El hygiene items, mattress, and his meals that are within the parameters set by the Maryland Division of Correction, the North Branch Correctional Institution, and [m]edical authorities." ECF No. 17, Exhibit 12, ¶ 5. He attests "James Calhoun-El, as with any other inmate confined to a segregation tier, was provide with toilet paper, hygiene items, showers, three daily meals, recreation/exercise, personal property and access to medical." Id. at ¶ 6. Additionally, Smith states "I have never withheld mail belonging to James Calhoun-El, or any other inmate, when it was in compliance with existing departmental and institutional guidelines." Id. at ¶ 7. Smith further attests that Calhoun-El was provided ARP forms "just like every other inmate" housed at NBCI. See id. at ¶ 8. "In fact to the best of my knowledge and belief, since May 20, 2008[, ] through October 15, 2012, James Calhoun has filed a total of one [h]undred and thirty-five (135) ARP's" through the NBCI Administrative Remedy Office. Id. Smith attests that to the best of his knowledge there is no bug infestation in the temporary housing cell area and a pest control company is under contract to provide pest prevention at NBCI twice monthly. See id. at ¶ 9. Smith states inmates who refuse housing are placed in a temporary housing cell. See id. at ¶ 10. Lastly, Smith states he was Housing Unit One Manager on April 24, 2012, when Calhoun-El "refused to have hand restraints applied for Property Officer R. Bennett to place boxes in his cell... for him to pack his belongings and move to Housing Unit 2 due to his disciplinary segregation sentence expiring." Id. at ¶ 11. Officer Bennett informed Calhoun-El that he would receive an adjustment ticket for refusing housing. See id.
Randolph C. Bennett is a correctional officer at NBCI. He is the property officer for Housing Unit One. He attests that he has "never denied James Calhoun-El hygiene items, mattress, and his meals that are within the parameters set by the Maryland Division of Correction, the North Branch Correctional Institution, and medical authorities." ECF No. 17, Exhibit 21. Bennett states on April 24, 2012, Calhoun-El "refused to have his hand restraints applied in order to place boxes in his cell... for him to pack his belongings to move to Housing Unit 2 due to his disciplinary segregation sentence expiring." Id. at ¶ 6. Bennett then informed Calhoun-El that he would receive an adjustment ticket for refusing the housing assignment. Id.
Bobby Shearin ("Shearin") is Warden at NBCI. Shearin attests NBCI contains four separate housing units for inmates. "North Branch Housing Unit # 1, is primarily used as a [s]egregation [u]nit, housing both disciplinary and administrative [s]egregation inmates." ECF No. 17, Exhibit 27. Housing Unit # 2 normally is for inmates recently released segregation and serves as a "[s]tep down [u]nit" for inmates to adjust to life in the ...

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