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Scott v. Commissioner of Division of Correction

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 10, 2014

MICHAEL T. SCOTT, JR. #311-542 Plaintiff
v.
COMMISSIONER OF DIVISION OF CORRECTION, J. PHILLIP MORGAN, WARDEN Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Pending is Michael T. Scott, Jr.'s (hereinafter Scott) Complaint under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Defendants, the Commissioner of Division of Correction and Warden J. Philip Morgan, by their counsel, have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment with verified exhibits (ECF No. 17) to which Scott has filed an opposition with attachments.[1] (ECF No. 19). No hearing is needed to resolve the issues. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow, Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 17), treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be GRANTED. Judgment will be entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff by separate Order.

CLAIMS PRESENTED

Scott, who is self-represented and an inmate at Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, claims his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when he was sanctioned after his urine test showed an abnormal creatinine level.[2] Scott requests compensatory damages in excess of $150, 000 and injunctive relief, including restoration of good conduct credits and visitation privileges, assignment to a single inmate cell, and changes in urine testing procedures.[3] (ECF No. 1 at 4).

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. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

Scott was randomly selected for urine sampling on March 11, 2013 (ECF No. 17, Exhibits 5 and 7). Scott's urine sample was analyzed by Phamatech, an independent contractor, and found to have an abnormal level of creatinine with a quantitation of 14mg/dl. Id. Exhibits 5, 7, and 10). The urine sampled tested abnormal for creatinine levels. Id. Division of Correction ("DOC") Rule 115 states that inmates are subject to disciplinary measures where they "provide a diluted or adulterated urine sample." Id., Exhibit 5; see also Exhibit 6 at 5.

On March 16, 2013, Scott was served with a Notice of Rule Violation and Notice of Inmate Disciplinary Hearing. Id. Exhibits 4 and 5.[4] At the hearing held on March 26, 2013, Scott testified and presented documentary evidence to refute the evidence against him. Id. Exhibit 6. He submitted a document titled "NLCP State of the Science Update, February 14, 2000, Subject: Urine Specimen Validity Testing, Evaluation of the Scientific Data Used to Define a Urine Specimen as Substituted" to support his contention that DOT guidelines apply to creatinine levels less than 5 mg. Id.

Scott's testimony was recorded as follows:

I have guidelines, it says 5 mg is supposed to be the cutoff it says 20 was too high and it is supposed to be 5, I work out, I eat fruit, one meal a day, coffee and the rest is water, can you read the guidelines.

Id.

The Hearing Officer considered the evidence and found Scott guilty of violating Rule 115, concluding:

Hearing Officer considered [the] Notice of Inmate Rule Violation by C.O. J. Rodriguez and Phamatech printout, as well as statements of Michael Scott. Scott's defense is that the DOT [Department of Transportation] guidelines are for creatinine levels are [sic] less than 5 mg/dl and [n]ot 20 mg/dl. Hearing Officer is not persuaded by Scott's presentation. Hearing Officer finds that the document presented by Scott is not a Federal guideline or standard, but a scientific study that was conducted February 2000. Hearing Officer believes the data does not apply to this incident and is extremely outdated. Hearing Officer finds that the laboratory report from Phamatech documents that Scott's urine sample was diluted with a creatine level of 14 mg/dl. Hearing Officer finds Scott guilty of rule 115. Id. Scott was sanctioned with 200 days in segregation, revocation of 120 good conduct credits, and indefinite loss of visitation. Id., Exhibit 6 at 6. He appealed the Hearing Examiner's decision to the Warden who modified the sanctions by reducing the number of days in segregation to 120, the number of good conduct credits to 30, and loss of visitation to 180 days. Id. Exhibit 3.

Scott filed Administrative Remedy Request (ARP) No. MCTC 0257-13 and Inmate Grievance Office (IGO) No. 20130660 in which he stated the DOC was not acting in accordance with DOT guidelines as it ...


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