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Calhoun-El v. Stouffer

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 2, 2014

JAMES CALHOUN-EL, 160-083, Plaintiff,
v.
J. MICHAEL STOUFFER, et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Self-represented Plaintiff James Calhoun-El (hereinafter Calhoun-El) is suing Defendants Warden Bobby P. Shearin, Deputy Secretary J. Michael Stouffer, Jon P. Galley, Roderick Sowers, Bruce Liller, [1] and Sharon Baucom, M.D. under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[2] Defendants, by their counsel, have filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment with an affidavit and verified exhibits. (ECF No. 12) Calhoun-El has replied[3] to the Response ECF No. 17. No hearing is needed to resolve the issues presented. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow, Calhoun-El's conditions of confinement claims will be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, all claims against Defendants Stouffer, Galley, Sowers, and Baucom ARE DISMISSED with prejudice, summary judgment IS GRANTED as to Defendants Shearin and Liller, and judgment is entered in their favor.

PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Calhoun-El claims he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution when, as an inmate at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"), he was placed in "solitary confinement" for thirteen months for violating institutional rules.[4] ECF No. 1. He further alleges that he has been denied access to certain mental health programs due to impermissible sexual and racial discriminatory animus. See id.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This Court reviews the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). That review liberally construes Plaintiff's pleadings in light of the fact that he is proceeding pro se. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

I. Calhoun-El's Allegations

Calhoun-El alleges his thirteen-month confinement in disciplinary segregation, which he refers to as "solitary confinement" was "tantamount to torture, "[5] and caused him to become depressed and suffer from a self-titled condition that he calls "Segregation Unit Housing Syndrome." (ECF No. 1 at 9, 12; ECF No. 12, Exhibit A ¶ 5(F)). He avers this condition entitled him to participate in the Behavior Management Program (hereinafter BMP) or the Special Needs Unit (hereinafter SNU), two mental health programs conducted at NBCI, but Liller and Nurse Deidre Mulls "ordered" that he "not be accepted in mental health programs." Id. at 8. Calhoun-El avers the decision to deny him admission to the programs demonstrates deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to him. Id. at 10. As redress, he seeks unspecified declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages of one hundred dollars a day "for each day housed in solitary confinement." Id. at 14-15.

II. Defendants' Response

In support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants have filed a declaration executed by Bruce Liller ("hereinafter Liller"). Chief of the Psychology Department at NBCI. ECF No. 12, Exhibit A. Liller, who states he is familiar with Calhoun-El and the allegations he raises, attests: (1) Calhoun-El has exhibited a pattern of self-diagnosis of mental illness and disorders as a means of obtaining access to programs for which he is ineligible or to circumvent corrections procedures such as strip searching or double-celling; (2) Calhoun-El is not mentally ill and did not meet the criteria for admission into either the BMP or SNU programs; (3) Calhoun-El has no psychological illness or condition to prevent him from assignment to a double-cell; and (4) Calhoun-El is regularly monitored for his mental health and had access to other mental health programs at NBCI. Id. ¶¶ 3, 4, 5. Liller characterizes Calhoun-El as "a consummate complainer." Id. ¶ 4.

Liller categorically denies Calhoun-El's allegation that he and Nurse Deidre Mull "ordered" that Calhoun-El not be accepted into NBCI mental health programs. Liller attests "No such order was made. Participation in the programs Plaintiff wanted is governed by admission criteria which Plaintiff did not meet." Id. at ¶ 5. Indeed, the Behavior Management Program is designed for the most violent offenders. Id. at ¶ 5(D), see also Exhibit B at 9-10 (Criteria for Placement in BMP).

Liller explains:

...[A]n inmate must have demonstrated a history of aggressive behavior while incarcerated, but Plaintiff is not that kind of inmate. He has not demonstrated violent behavior. His desire to join the program was most likely ...

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