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Germain v. Shearin

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 13, 2014

BOBBY P. SHEARIN, et al. Defendants


J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Pending is defendant James Smith's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 42) which is opposed by plaintiff (ECF No. 48). The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).

Procedural History

On November 9, 2011, this court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on all claims, based on evidence supporting the conclusion that plaintiff's assignment to a double cell was part of a treatment plan for his anxiety disorder. This court also found no evidence that plaintiff suffered a serious or significant physical or emotional injury as a result of the alleged conditions of confinement. ECF No. 19.

On November 23, 2011, plaintiff filed a motion to alter or amend pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). ECF No. 21. That motion was denied on February 17, 2012. ECF No. 26. Plaintiff appealed this court's decision. ECF No. 27.

On July 3, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, this court's decision. ECF No. 32. The sole issue remanded concerns defendant Smith's alleged deliberate indifference to the danger of plaintiff's attempted suicide prior to his confinement in a contingency cell where he was held pending his agreement to assignment to a double cell. Id. at pp. 11-12. The Fourth Circuit found that "by submitting admissible evidence that he warned Smith of a serious risk of injury, and that] Smith acted with deliberate indifference to that risk, [plaintiff] has raised a triable issue of fact." Id. All other aspects of this court's prior decision were affirmed.

Defendant Smith's Motion for Summary Judgment

At all times relevant to this matter, plaintiff was confined to North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), where he arrived on October 31, 2008. ECF No. 42 at Ex. 1.On May 31, 2011, plaintiff was released from disciplinary segregation and an attempt was made by NBCI officials to assign him to a double cell in Housing Unit #2. Id. at p. 7 and Ex. 2. Plaintiff, however, refused to accept a cellmate and was returned to disciplinary segregation in Housing Unit #!. When plaintiff arrived in Housing Unit 1, he again refused to accept the housing assigned to him, stating to defendant Smith that he is supposed to be single-celled. Id. Plaintiff alleges that at this time he also told Smith that he was suicidal.[1] Smith placed plaintiff in a contingency cell[2] in Housing Unit #1 until plaintiff's claim could be investigated. Id. At approximately 6:40 p.m., officers discovered plaintiff unresponsive in the contingency cell after an apparent suicide attempt. ECF No. 12 at Ex. 4. Plaintiff was removed to the medical unit where he received treatment. Id.

Plaintiff's Opposition

Plaintiff states that Smith mischaracterizes his complaint when he asserts that plaintiff alleges he told Smith he was suicidal when he attempted to double cell plaintiff. ECF No. 48 at pp. 2-3. Plaintiff asserts that in his original opposition response he alleged "plaintiff informed Sgt. Smith that if he were placed in a contingency cell that he would make an attempt to commit suicide Sgt. Smith completely ignored plaintiff's emotional state." Id. at p. 3 citing ECF No. 17-1 at pp. 3-4. Plaintiff further asserts that it was the threat made by Smith to isolate plaintiff indefinitely that rendered plaintiff suicidal. ECF No. 48 at p. 3. Plaintiff concludes that this constitutes a genuine dispute of material fact precluding summary judgment in Smith's favor. Id.

In his declaration under oath plaintiff states that he told Smith the he "had a single cell alert in [his] psychological file from Mrs. Moulden that clearly stated that whenever I was in the disciplinary segregation unit I should be single celled." ECF No. 48 at Attachment 1, p. 3. He further states that Smith informed him he would be placed in an isolation cell where he would remain until he accepted a cellmate. Id. He claims the prospect of being confined to an isolation cell until he accepted a cellmate was what triggered his suicidal plans and that he told Smith "if he followed through his threat that [he] would kill [himself]." Id. at pp. 3-4. He claims the isolation cell was inappropriate for his confinement because it did not contain a surveillance camera and he was allowed to keep his clothes as well as bedding which he could use to harm himself. Id. at p. 4.

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 ...

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