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Mbewe v. C.D.C.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 20, 2013

FRANCIS C. MBEWE, # 360-922 Plaintiff,


ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Procedural History

In this 22-page civil rights Complaint and attachments filed on October 24, 2012, Francis C. Mbewe ("Mbewe"), an inmate currently housed at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), alleged that: (1) while detained at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"), corrections staff refused to send his legal mail and his criminal appeal was untimely filed as a result; (2) his personal property, including various legal documents, were lost by corrections staff at MCCF and Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown ("MCIH"); (3) he was banned from/had restricted access to the MCIH law library; (4) on September 21, 2010, a case manager at MCIH wrongfully terminated a telephone call while Mbewe was speaking with his attorney; (5) MCIH officers harassed him and told "the [former] kitchen Clerk" that Mbewe was a "snitch;" and (6) MCIH staff failed to protect him from harm resulting in his assault on July 10, 2012, by unknown assailants due to his being labeled as an informant. (ECF No. 1, at 10-12). Mbewe requested transfer to the Jessup region, declaratory relief, termination of the "library ban, " compensatory damages of $200, 000 against each Defendant, and prayed a jury trial.

On November 27, 2012, the court dismissed Plaintiff's claims, except for his failure to protect allegation.[2] (ECF Nos. 3-5). On December 12, 2012, Mbewe filed a Supplemental Complaint in which he complained that he was twice assaulted by unspecified individuals in July of 2012, and he was assigned to cells with known flagged gang members and other dangerous inmates. (ECF No. 9).

Pending Motions

Currently pending before the court are Defendants Stouffer, Sowers, Webb, Scott, Williams, Powell, Clevenger, Hull, Worgul, and Vinson's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment and Mbewe's Opposition thereto.[3] (ECF Nos. 19 & 25). Mbewe has also filed a Motion for a Scheduling Order and Pre-Trial Order or, in the Alternative, for Appropriate Relief to Conduct Discovery.[4] (ECF No. 30). The undersigned has examined the records and declarations submitted by the parties 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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