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French v. Allegany County

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 8, 2013

AARON LITTLE FRENCH
v.
ALLEGANY COUNTY, et al.

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Pending is the motion to dismiss or for summary judgment filed by defendants Jon Galley, Officer Ickes, Officer Lambert, Officer Mawhinney, Officer Meager, Officer Metty, Scott Oakley, Mary Jane Rose, Bobby Sherin, Michael Stouffer, Officer Sutherland, and Sergeant Thomas (ECF No. 51), and plaintiff's response thereto. ECF No. 61. Upon review of papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter is not necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).

Background

As previously recounted by the court in its memorandum opinion of September 18, 2012:

The plaintiff filed a 64-page complaint seeking damages for allaged violations of his right to due process. The plaintiff claims that at several different correctional institutions his property was lost or stolen. He claims that the property was not replaced or he was not properly reimbursed for same. The gravamen of his complaint is that he has been denied access to adequate post-deprivation remedies regarding the lost property. (ECF No. 1.)
Specifically, plaintiff states that at various times since 2005 his personal property has been lost or damaged by prison personnel. He indicates that he has attempted to file administrative remedy requests regarding the lost property, but there were irregularities in the processing of his remedies and/or he was aggrieved by the decision rendered on his claim. Ultimately, he claims he has been unable to fully pursue his state court claims either because his appeal to the Maryland Circuit Court was dismissed or because his effort to institute a separate state tort complaint in the Maryland District Court was dismissed after he was denied permission to proceed in forma pauperis. Id. The plaintiff also raises state tort claims regarding the destruction of his property and alleging retaliation. Id.

French v. Allegany County, 2012 WL 4324901, *1 (D. Md. Sept. 18, 2012).

The court previously granted defendants' dispositive motions regarding plaintiff's claims of access to the courts, retaliation, and lost mail, and directed defendants to respond to plaintiff's claims regarding denial of due process arising after September of 2008. ECF Nos. 47 & 48. This they have done. ECF No. 51.

Standard of Review

A. Motion to Dismiss

When ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must "accept the well-pled allegations of the complaint as true, " and "construe the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). "Even though the requirements for pleading a proper complaint are substantially aimed at assuring that the defendant be given adequate notice of the nature of a claim being made against him, they also provide criteria for defining issues for trial and for early disposition of inappropriate complaints." Francis v. Giacomelli , 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). "The mere recital of elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)." Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of a complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations and alterations omitted). "To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need not forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the elements of the claim.... However, the complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish those elements." Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (quotations and citation omitted). "Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is probable, ' the complaint must advance the plaintiff's claim across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment should be granted "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). 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). Whether a fact is material depends upon the substantive law. See id.

"A 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, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court must "view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the [summary judgment] motion, '" Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (alteration in original) (quoting United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)), but the court also must abide by the "affirmative obligation of the ...


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