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Graham v. King

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 26, 2014



CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Self-represented plaintiff Paul Graham, a Maryland Division of Corrections ("DOC") prisoner incarcerated at Patuxent Institution, seeks money damages and the firing of Officer Toby King. Plaintiff alleges that on August 8, 2012, King punched him several times in the head while he was shackled to an infirmary bed during an epileptic seizure. Plaintiff also claims that on September 19, 2012, Warden Patricia Goins-Johnson cancelled his Hagerstown court appearance after he suffered another epileptic seizure.[1] (Compl., ECF No. 1; Am. Compl., ECF No. 3; ECF No. 9 at 4.)

Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment, (ECF No. 17), which plaintiff opposes, [2] (ECF No. 18). Pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011), no hearing is needed to resolve plaintiff's claims of excessive use of force and denial of access to the courts.


Patuxent is a specialized institution and is the only dedicated treatment facility within Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS"). As noted on Patuxent's website:[3]

"[The] facility provides treatment to men, women and youth in its Eligible Person (EP) program through the use of remediation management that combines psychiatry, psychology, social work and custody on each team. Patuxent is also the location for a number of substance abuse treatment programs for [DOC] male and female offenders, as well as the Correctional Mental Health Center-Jessup, the [DOC's] in-patient mental health unit. [Patuxent's] Director serves as the Chief Executive Officer... and is assisted by three Associate Directors: the Warden who maintains responsibility for custody and security of the Institution; the Associate Director for Behavioral Sciences who manages the EP program; and the Associate Director for Psychiatry who attends to the psychiatric issues relating to the Patuxent treatment regime."

Defendants do not delineate why plaintiff is at Patuxent. Nonetheless, once the matter of a party's competency has been brought to the court's attention, it is required to consider and decide the issue. Seibels, Bruce & Co. v. Nicke, 168 F.R.D. 542, 543 (M.D. N.C. 1996). While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c)(2) allows the court to appoint a guardian ad litem, it does not compel it to do so, but rather grants it considerable discretion to issue an "appropriate order" to protect the interest of an unrepresented incompetent litigant.

Examination of the record shows that plaintiff has received treatment at Patuxent since at least August 1, 2012, and has been diagnosed as suffering from delusional disorder, antisocial personality disorder, epilepsy, and schizoaffective disorder. (ECF No. 17-10 at 1, 132.) Examination of Maryland's electronic docket system suggests that plaintiff's competency recently has been questioned.[4] Despite his mental health problems, plaintiff has been able to articulate his claims here. Given plaintiff's apparent ability, there is no requirement, under Rule 17(c)(2), for appointment of a guardian to pursue the claims presented.


As noted, defendants have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. "The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion [to dismiss] is to test the sufficiency of a complaint.'" McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by the defendant that, even if the facts that plaintiff alleges are true, the complaint fails, as a matter of law, "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Therefore, in considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "accept[ ] as true the well-pled facts in the complaint and view[ ] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Brockington v. Boykins, 637 F.3d 503, 505 (4th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).

Ordinarily, a court cannot consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve fact disputes when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). If the court does consider matters outside the pleadings, "the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see also Finley Lines Joint Protective Bd. Unit 200 v. Norfolk S. Corp., 109 F.3d 993, 997 (4th Cir. 1997) ("[A] Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss supported by extraneous materials cannot be regarded as one for summary judgment until the district court acts to convert the motion by indicating that it will not exclude from its consideration of the motion the supporting extraneous materials.").

This court deems it appropriate to consider the extraneous materials, as they are likely to facilitate disposition of this case.[5] Accordingly, defendants' motion shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment.

Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). 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 is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

"A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court must "view the evidence in the light most favorable to... the nonmovant, and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witnesses' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 645 (4th Cir. 2002). At the same time, the court also must abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (quoting ...

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