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Dorsey v. Western Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 5, 2014

TERRY L.S. DORSEY, #193-579, Plaintiff.
v.
WESTERN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, J. PHILLIP MORGAN, Warden, FRANK BISHOP, JR., Warden, S.A. WILSON, Property Officer Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, District Judge.

Terry L.S. Dorsey is suing Defendants Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), former Warden J. Philip Morgan, Warden Frank B. Bishop, Jr., and Property Officer Steven A. Wilson pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 13. Dorsey has filed an opposition. ECF No. 17. No hearing is needed to resolve the issues. See Local Rule 106.5 (D.Md. 2014).

I. BACKGROUND

Dorsey's allegations arise from the time he was an inmate at WCI.[1] Dorsey alleges on July 7, 2011, Officer Wilson caused his property to be "forfeited" by wrongfully demanding that Dorsey provide an address where his property could be sent out of the institution due to his placement in disciplinary segregation. According to Dorsey, there was no basis to forfeit the property because the infraction, on which his move to a segregation unit was based, was later reversed. Additionally, Dorsey claims the internal directive on which the forfeiture was based, WCI 110-6-1, conflicts with Division of Correction ("DOC") directive DCD 220-001, Part E, p. 3 which reads: "The institution shall store the inmate's property that is withdrawn from the inmate's use for a specified period of time (such as due to the inmate's disciplinary status)." Dorsey is requesting an unstated sum of punitive damages as relief. ECF No. 1; ECF No. 17, Ex. 3.

A. Disciplinary Infraction

The following facts contained in Defendants' verified exhibits are not in dispute. On April 11, 2011, Dorsey was found guilty of violating institutional rule numbers 104, 400, 405 and 406 (threatening language, disobeying, disrespect, and contraband) and received a total of 210 days of segregation. Specifically, he received 150 days segregation for violating rule 104, an additional 60 days of segregation for violating rule 400, and 60 days for violating rules 405 and 406 to be served concurrent with the other sanctions. ECF No. 13, Ex. 3, p. 5; Ex. 8 ¶ 14. The decision was affirmed by the Warden on April 29, 2011. ECF No. 13, Exs. 1 and 2.

On May 19, 2011, Dorsey filed a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO") to appeal the results of the disciplinary proceeding.[2] ECF No. 13, Ex. 8. Administrative Law Judge D. Harrison Pratt held a hearing on August 24, 2011, at which Dorsey represented himself. On October 26, 2011, Judge Pratt found the grievance meritorious as to the rule 104, 400, and 405 violations, and without merit as to the rule 406 violation.[3] Id . Judge Pratt proposed remanding the case for a second disciplinary hearing on the rule 104, 400, and 405 violations.

On July 10, 2013, Randall Watson[4] of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ordered the rule 104, 400 and 405 violations be reduced to an incident report because the remand hearing had yet to be scheduled. ECF No. 13, Ex. ¶ 5; Ex. 9.

In his opposition, Dorsey asserts that he was entitled to a "forfeiture or pre-deprivation hearing" and WCI officials were required to Stay disposition of his property pending completion of his appeal rights.[5] ECF No. 17. In support, he has submitted a copy of DCD # 220-004, change note 12-08, which states:

If the confiscation of property is not associated with a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation and Disciplinary Hearing, or if forfeiture is not addressed as part of a formal disciplinary hearing per DCD 105-7, an administrative hearing will be held to specifically address the question of forfeiture. An administrative hearing for forfeiture shall be conducted by a hearing officer or facility hearing officer per DCD 105-3.

ECF No. 17, Ex. 3.

B. Property Disposition

According to WCI ID 110.0006.1, an inmate sentenced to 180 days or more of disciplinary segregation will have his property inventoried and receive only that property permitted within the guidelines of the Institutional Directive, Appendix 1. ECF No. 13, Ex. 1 at ¶ 3; Ex. 4, p 4. The inmate is then given the opportunity to mail the remainder of the property out of the institution at his expense. In the event an inmate is indigent or refuses to provide an address or sign a money voucher covering the cost of postage, the institution may dispose of the property. Id . Officer Wilson attests in his affidavit that WCI has implemented the 180-day segregation rule in order to: ascertain available storage space for lengthy disciplinary segregation sentences; avoid food items being infested by insects and rodents; limit institutional responsibility for stored items; deter inmates from receiving rule violations; and eliminate potential fire hazards. ECF No. 13, Ex. 1 ¶ 4.

On May 12, 2011 and May 23, 2011, Dorsey's property was inventoried and non-allowable segregation property was recorded on ...


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