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Brown v. J. P. Morgan, Warden

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 6, 2013

KELLY BROWN, #280148 Plaintiff,
v.
J. P. MORGAN, WARDEN, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Procedural History

This 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 civil rights complaint, raising failure-to-protect claims, was received for filing on October 24, 2012. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff, an inmate at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") in Cumberland, Maryland, alleges that on August 2, 2011, he informed a correctional officer that he had received a threatening letter. He claims that he gave the letter to the officer, who was to initiate administrative segregation/protective custody procedures. The following day, plaintiff alleges he informed an unknown officer of the threat to his safety and was interviewed by the Unit Manager and defendant Daddysmen. Plaintiff states that he was instructed to fill out an incident report and did so, but was told that nothing could be done because he had not been physically harmed. ECF No. 1. He asserts that on August 3, 2011, he refused housing in order to be placed on disciplinary segregation to protect himself. Plaintiff claims that while defendants previously indicated that none of the aforementioned actions took place, they all may be verified by viewing the WCI security tapes. Id.

Finally, plaintiff alleges that on September 29, 2001, he was taken from WCI to the hospital "unresponsive" due to an overdose of "opiates." Plaintiff states that upon his return to WCI four days later, he was placed on temporary housing pending an investigation, but was not cited with an infraction for the opiate overdose. He contends that on October 9, 2011, an attempt was made to place him back in general population. Plaintiff asserts that as of the preparation date of this complaint his safety concerns have not been addressed. ECF No. 1. He seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

In December of 2012, plaintiff filed two amended complaints. The first amended complaint reiterates his original claims regarding his receipt of a threatening letter and defendants' failure to take any action. He additionally claims he has been cited with infractions several times for refusing housing. ECF No. 11. The second amended complaint goes to plaintiff's medical records related to his stay at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center ("WMRMC") in August of 2011, when he tested positive for opiates. ECF No. 13.

Pending Motions

Currently pending before the court are the served defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment and plaintiff's opposition thereto (ECF Nos. 24 & 27). The undersigned has examined the medical/base file records and declarations submitted by defendants and finds that no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow, defendants' motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.

Standard of Review

Under revised 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.

In Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986) the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion for summary judgment, the "judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." 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." Id. at 248. Thus, "the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Id. at 252.

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. No genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Therefore, on those issues on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.

In undertaking this inquiry, a court must view the facts and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom "in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)); see also E.E.O.C. v. Navy Federal Credit Union, 424 F.3d 397, 405 (4th Cir. 2005). The mere existence of a "scintilla"of evidence in support of the non-moving party's case is not sufficient to preclude an order granting summary judgment. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

This court has previously held that a "party cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact through mere speculation or compilation of inferences." Shin v. Shalala, 166 F.Supp.2d 373, 375 (D. Md. 2001) (citation omitted). Indeed, the court has an affirmative obligation to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from going to trial. See Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, ...


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