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Henson v. Lambert

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 1, 2013

JAMES A. HENSON, JR. Plaintiff
v.
CO/2 LAMBERT, et al., Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROGER W. TITUS, District Judge.

Pending are Defendants CO II Jesse Lambert, CO II Nicholas Soltas, CO II Steven Miller, CO II Randolph Bennett, CO II Christopher Ortt, CO II Joshua Tart, and CO II Shawn Murray's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's responses thereto. ECF Nos. 32, 35-40.[1] Upon review of the papers filed, the court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).[2]

Background

Plaintiff alleges that on October 31, 2012, Lambert came to his cell and stated, "I'm thinking about moving you to cell B-#27 with another violent-dangerous gang member." Later that same day Ortt allegedly came to his cell and stated "I ought to set your black ass on fire with pepper spray anyway." ECF No. 1. Plaintiff states that prior to these incidents Lambert, Ortt, Bennett, Miller and Soltas told gang members on the housing unit that Plaintiff was a rapist and gave another inmate detailed account of Plaintiff's trial. Plaintiff states that this caused additional death threats to be made against him. Plaintiff reiterates his claim that in October, 2011 he was assaulted by another inmate, Roy Jenkins, and that the assault was "covered up."[3] Plaintiff does not seek monetary damages; rather, he asks that he be placed on protective custody and indefinitely transferred to an unspecified location. He also seeks a federal investigation on "racial abuse, corruption state sponsored murder for hire (maybe), into the NBCI (and) adjacent WCI, of the insurgent to reduce them to obedience...." Id.

Dale Smith is the manager of Housing Unit 1 at NBCI. ECF No. 32, Ex. 1. Smith avers that Plaintiff is double celled and has no problem with his current inmate. Id. Smith notes that the Division of Correction ("DOC") maintains records of all inmates known to be enemies of one another and before cell assignments are made the enemy list is checked to insure that cell mates are not known enemies. Smith avers that no inmate has ever been assigned to Plaintiff's cell if there was any indication of hostility between them. Id.

Housing Unit 1 is a segregation unit. While housed on disciplinary segregation, Plaintiff, like all other inmates so housed, never left his cell unless he was restrained with cuffs and escorted by correctional staff. Plaintiff takes recreation in a "rec cage" with only his cell-mate and showers alone and his meals are delivered to his cell. If he leaves his cell to go anywhere he is escorted by correctional staff. Smith avers that Plaintiff is housed in as safe an environment as is possible within a correctional facility. Id.

Soltas, Miller, Bennett, Ortt, Tart and Murray aver that they never discussed Plaintiff, or the nature of his conviction, or details of his criminal trial with other inmates. Each denies making the specific statements Plaintiff claims were made regarding his being a rapist. Id., Ex. B-G.

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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1968-69 (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 1969. 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).

B. 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 ...

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