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Long v. Shearin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 5, 2014

DONTAI LONG, #336-812 Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN BOBBY P. SHEARIN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

Pending in the above-captioned case is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (ECF No. 23), and Defendants' Reply (ECF No. 28). Also pending is Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order[1] (ECF No. 3) and Notice of Default[2] (ECF No. 17). The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be granted.

Background

Plaintiff alleges that on October 31, 2013, he and his cell mate were found guilty of violating institutional rules 105 (possession of a weapon) and 406 (possession of contraband). ECF No. 1 at p. 3. The item found in Plaintiff's cell that was the impetus for the disciplinary charges was a pair of finger nail clippers. Id . The penalty imposed for the disciplinary violation was 180 days of segregation, loss of 120 days of good conduct credit, and an indefinite loss of visits. Id . at Att. 1, p. 5. Following the adjustment hearing, Plaintiff's case was reviewed by the Reduction in Violence Committee and the additional sanction of a 30-day loss of appliances was approved by Warden Shearin. Id.

Plaintiff's cell mate, Todric Speaks, appealed his disciplinary conviction to the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"), but prior to the hearing Randy Watson, Director of Inmate Programs and Services, wrote a memorandum to Warden Shearin vacating the adjustment conviction. ECF No. 1 at Att. 1, p. 1. Watson noted that Speaks's conviction was based on the fact that the nail clippers were found in the cell to which he was assigned and, therefore, were in his constructive possession, but that the charging officer's report provided no explanation as to how nail clippers could in fact be used as a weapon. Id . As designee of the Deputy Secretary of Operation, Watson exercised his authority to vacate Speaks's conviction for possession of a weapon as clearly erroneous. Watson also reduced Speaks's conviction for possession of contraband to an incident report, concluding that Speaks was in constructive possession of the nail clippers after the deadline established in an institutional directive for relinquishing all nail clippers. Id .; see also p. 2.[3]

Plaintiff contacted Watson via certified mail on April 28, 2013, seeking the same reversal of his adjustment conviction that was provided to Speaks. Id . at p. 6. Plaintiff also filed an Administrative Remedy Procedure request ("ARP") with Warden Shearin seeking the same remedy provided to Speaks, but his ARP was dismissed for procedural reasons.[4] Id . at pp. 7-8. As relief Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for every day he spent on disciplinary segregation and "everything that was given to Mr. Speaks." ECF No. 1 at p. 3.

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 entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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).

"The 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, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to... the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc. , 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also abide by the "affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent ...


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