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Tweh v. Green

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 2, 2013

THOMAS N. TWEH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT GREEN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants', Sheriff Deputy Green and Sheriff Deputy Songco[1]("Sheriff Defendants"), Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 43) and Plaintiff's, Thomas N. Tweh, Motion for Default Judgment (ECF No. 51). After review of the papers and applicable law, the Court determines that a hearing is unwarranted. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2011).

Tweh filed the above-captioned Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against 11 defendants.[2] The Court previously granted Defendants Robert Green, Captain Harold Payne, Corporal Rafiq A. Muhammad, Sergeant Michael Tate and Anthony Surgess's ("County Defendants") Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment and dismissed the Complaint against Sergeant Jeffers. (ECF Nos. 41-42). For the reasons given below, Sheriff Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment will be granted and Tweh's Motion for Default Judgment will be denied.

I. Background[3]

Tweh, an inmate currently confined at the Roxbury Correctional Institution, filed the instant Complaint alleging that he was denied adequate medical care and subjected to excessive force while housed at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"). Tweh states that at the time of the incident he had medical authorization to be double handcuffed.

As to the Sheriff Defendants, Tweh alleges that on September 24, 2010, he advised Defendant Green that he had a medical authorization to be double cuffed but did not have the authorization with him. Green advised Tweh not to worry, that Green would "work with him." However, Green "changed his attitude" when Tweh attempted to explain his condition to Defendant Songco. Tweh avers that Green then pointed a taser in his face and threatened to tase him if he did not put his hands behind his back. Tweh states that due to his heart condition he was in fear for his life.

Tweh further alleges that Songco forcibly restrained him with only one set of handcuffs and with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Tweh states that Songco engaged in this behavior despite Deputy Ducket advising her to "get 2 handcuffs, " and after he explained to her that he had forgotten his authorization for double cuffing.

Sheriff Defendants aver that on September 24, 2010, they were attempting to transport Tweh from the Montgomery County Maryland Corrections Facility ("MCCF") to the Montgomery County Circuit Court when Tweh resisted being handcuffed with the other inmates, indicating he suffered from an injury that required he be double cuffed. Sheriff Defendants state that there was no information on Tweh's prisoner information card indicating the same. To Sheriff Defendants' knowledge, MCCF did not have any record indicating that Tweh had injuries which prevented him from being handcuffed in the normal manner. It was because of Tweh's continued resistance and belligerence, Sheriff Defendants argue, that Green threated to use a taser on him. Other deputies restrained Tweh while he was handcuffed in the normal manner. Once in handcuffs, Tweh cooperated and was transported to court. No taser was actually used.

Additionally, the Court previously noted the following pertinent facts offered by the County Defendants:

During the time at issue, MCCF was implementing a not yet fully functional computer program which would allow staff to verify medical authorizations. As such, the practice in place required inmates to be in possession of their medical authorization indicating a need for alternative cuffing. If the inmate failed to possess the authorization he would be denied the alternative cuffing. That policy was provided to Plaintiff and contains mandatory language advising the inmate of the necessity of possessing the authorization for the authorization to be effective. MCCF inmates who are being transferred to outside appointments are handcuffed by Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies rather than by MCCF correctional staff. The Sheriff's Office policy is to use a single set of handcuffs behind the back.
* * * *
On September 24, 2010, Sgt. Tate was working in the Traffic Office in the Processing area of MCCF, coordinating the transportation of MCCF inmates to the custody of the Montgomery County's Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Tate heard a commotion in the Processing area. He came out of the Traffic Office and observed Plaintiff refusing to be handcuffed by sheriff's deputies. Sgt. Tate instructed Plaintiff to comply with the deputy. Plaintiff responded that, for medical reasons, he needed two sets of handcuffs. Sgt. Tate asked whether Plaintiff had the medical authorization slip. Plaintiff responded, "No, but it hasn't been a problem before!" Sgt. Tate informed Plaintiff he was required to be in possession of his paperwork but he would call medical to verify the authorization. Approximately five minutes after contacting the medical unit, Sgt. Tate received verification that Plaintiff had authorization to use two sets of handcuffs. When Sgt. Tate exited the Traffic Office to confer with the sheriff's deputies, he was advised that the matter had been taken care of. Sgt. Tate saw Plaintiff walking out of Processing to board the transport van along with other inmates but did not notice whether Plaintiff was single or double cuffed.

Mem. Opinion 3-5, ECF No. 41 ...


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