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Brown v. Walenstein

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

October 15, 2013

QUINNTON BROWN (aka Earin Davis)[1] Plaintiff,
v.
ART WALENSTEIN, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Pending is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff opposes the motion (ECF No. 19) and Defendants have filed a Reply thereto (ECF No. 20). The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).

Background

At all times relevant to the Complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF).[2] He alleges that on February 29, 2012, he was assaulted by Defendant Martain Che, a correctional officer at MCCF. Plaintiff claims the altercation occurred after he asked Che for a grievance form so he could file a complaint against Che for the "derogatory" manner in which Che had addressed him. Che allegedly refused to provide the form and instead ordered Plaintiff to return to his cell or "lock-in." Plaintiff claims he felt Che was being "overtly authoritative and unjust" by ordering him to lock in to his cell "for no reason." ECF No. 10 at p. 5. Plaintiff claims he began walking past the officer in the direction of his cell, but Che yelled for him to come back. When Plaintiff turned around he claims Che hit him twice in the face with his fists. In order to "ward off any further unwarranted abuse, " Plaintiff claims he fought back and knocked Che to the ground. He further claims that once Che was on the ground, Plaintiff moved away to put space between him and the officer. He states, however, that Che got up from the floor and came at Plaintiff with a chair and Plaintiff was able to fend his attacker off again. Plaintiff asserts that once the "situation was brought under control" he laid down on the ground in a manner depicted in the inmate guidebook. Plaintiff claims he suffered a broken tooth, multiple lacerations on the inside of his mouth, and swelling of his eye, upper lip, and jaw. Id . pp. 5-6.

Following Che's assault, Plaintiff alleges Che falsified documents charging Plaintiff with an institutional infraction for assaulting an officer. ECF No. 1 at p. 4 and Attachment 1. Plaintiff claims that on March 9, 2012, after exhausting administrative remedies, he asked to file criminal charges against Che. When the warden found out about his intentions, the warden had Plaintiff charged with criminal assault charges. ECF No. 10 at p. 6. Plaintiff stood trial for assault on a correctional officer and was subsequently found not guilty by a jury on July 31, 2012, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. ECF No. 10 at p. 6. Despite being found not guilty of the criminal charges, Plaintiff states he was kept on segregation from the date of the incident because he assaulted a staff member. Id . He asserts that Defendants Warden Green and Deputy Warden Maligarie improperly kept him on segregation status "even though he was found to be not guilty of the assault on Martain Che in the Montgomery County Circuit Court." ECF No. 1 at p. 4. Plaintiff claims he suffered mild depression as a result of being so assigned and that he was only allowed to attend the law library once every two weeks for a period of 15 minutes and was required to wear handcuffs and shackles while in the library. Id . at p. 5. He claims he was left on segregation as a means of retaliation by Green and Maligarie and he maintains that retaining him on lock up for this reason violated his Eighth Amendment rights. ECF No. 10 at p. 6.

Plaintiff adds that the time he was allotted in the law library was inadequate to allow him to "prepare a defense" for his original criminal charges. He adds that segregation inmates are told they can order legal material from the law librarian, but that the requests take anywhere from three to six weeks to receive. He claims he was told attempts were being made to rectify the problems; however, nothing was done. He asserts the inadequate time to use the law library was a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. ECF No. 10 at p. 7.

On August 30, 2012, Plaintiff claims he was assaulted by Defendant Corporal Wagstaff when Wagstaff hit Plaintiff in the throat with his forearm. Plaintiff alleges Wagstaff pushed him and when Plaintiff asked why he had done so, Wagstaff replied that he was not Che and struck Plaintiff in the throat. ECF No. 10 at p. 7. He claims Green refused to respond to his grievance concerning the assault by Wagstaff and Defendant Art Walenstein did not respond to his appeal regarding Green's actions. ECF No. 1 at p. 5. Plaintiff further alleges the administration of MCCF "deliberately misled the courts to believe that [he] was transferred out of the jail when he was in fact being held in segregation." Id .

As relief Plaintiff seeks to be transferred from MCCF and to be "compensated" for pain and suffering resulting from the physical assault as well as the conditions under which he was confined. He seeks "in excess of $200, 000 dollars" in both punitive and compensatory damages. ECF No. 10 at p. 7.

Standard of Review

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 entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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 ...

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