United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES A. HENSON, JR., Plaintiff,
PHILIP MERLING, et al., Defendants.
ROGER W. TITUS, District Judge.
Plaintiff James A. Henson, Jr. filed the above-captioned Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Defendants Acting Lt. Phillip Merling, Sgt. Brett E. Payton, C.O. II Gerald L. Wilson, Jr., C.O. II Vincent J. Lark, Sgt. Christopher D. Bingaman, Sgt. Benjamin A. Wagner, C.O II David Hedrick and Lt. Rodney O. Likin, by their attorney, have filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 22. Plaintiff has responded. ECF Nos. 24 & 25. After review of the pleadings and applicable law, the Court determines that a hearing is unwarranted. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be GRANTED.
Plaintiff alleges that on September 11, 2013, while incarcerated at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), he was assaulted by Defendants. ECF No. 1. He states that Likin instructed Merling, Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick to enter Plaintiff's cell and punch and kick him repeatedly. ECF No. 1. He states that his front tooth was chipped when Defendants slammed his face into the steel bedpost. He states that Defendants "hog-tied" him with a "black-leather dog strap" and dragged him out of the cell backwards, re-injuring his wrist and back. ECF No. 1. He states that Defendants intended to move "another would-be executioner (gangmember)" into his cell to kill him in retaliation for his having filed grievances and lawsuits. ECF No. 1.
Defendants provide the following information: On September 11, 2013, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Merling directed Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick to move inmate Warren Fletcher into Plaintiff's cell. ECF No. 22, Ex. 2. Merling avers that the move was initiated to accommodate housing for another inmate who required the use of a wheelchair. Id. Merling states that he was not physically present during Fletcher's move into Plaintiff's cell but observed the move from his post in Housing Unit ("H.U.") #4's control center. Id. He states that the move occurred without incident and avers that he did not assault Plaintiff, nor witness any other staff member assault Plaintiff. Id.
Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick confirm that on September 11, 2013, at approximately 2:20 p.m., they moved Fletcher into Plaintiff's cell without incident. Id., Exs. 3-6. Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick state that while placing Fletcher in the cell, Plaintiff stated he was to be single-celled and "no gang members were to be housed with him." Id. Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick aver that Fletcher had no documented gang affiliation, nor was he documented as Plaintiff's enemy. Id. Exs. 3-7. They further aver that Plaintiff did not have an order to be single-celled. Id. Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick aver that they did not assault Plaintiff, nor witness any other staff member assault Plaintiff. Id., Ex. 3-6.
Frederick and Wagner aver that on the same date Fletcher was transferred into Plaintiff's cell, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Plaintiff and inmate Fletcher were removed from the cell after Fletcher broke the cell window. Id., Exs. 8 & 9. Plaintiff and Fletcher were both escorted without incident to the medical department for assessment. Id. Frederick and Wagner aver that neither of them assaulted Plaintiff, nor did they witness any other staff assault Plaintiff. Id.
Bingaman confirms that Plaintiff was evaluated by R. Browning, LPN at approximately 5:15 p.m. on September 11, 2013, in WCI's Medical Department after Plaintiff's cellmate broke the window in the cell. Id., Ex. 10. Bingaman states that Plaintiff refused to cooperate with medical staff, declining to answer questions or talk. Id. Bingaman states that he was not directed by Likin to withhold medical treatment or meals from Plaintiff as punishment, as Plaintiff alleges. Id. Bingaman further avers that he did not assault Plaintiff nor has he witnessed other staff assault Plaintiff. Id.
Likin avers that on September 11, 2013, he was the H.U. Manager for Plaintiff's unit. Id., Ex. 11. He states that Plaintiff's claim that he directed Merling, Payton, Lark, Wilson, and Hedrick to assault Plaintiff is a complete fabrication. Id. He avers that on September 11, 2013, he ordered staff to Plaintiff's cell in order to move Plaintiff and his cellmate, Fletcher, from the cell after Fletcher broke a shelf and the window in the cell. Id. Likin states that the order to remove the inmates from the cell was given in order to protect Plaintiff due to Fletcher's outburst, and so to remove Fletcher due to his destruction of state property. Id. After the inmates were removed from the cell, photographs of them and the cell were taken. Id.
Plaintiff filed a Request for Administrative Remedy (ARP) concerning the alleged assault on September 11, 2013. Id. In his ARP, Plaintiff claimed that Likin left standing orders with Bingaman that Plaintiff "was only to receive bag meals" and "was not to be escorted to the medical department to receive medical treatment for his alleged injuries." Id. Plaintiff claimed Likin's actions were taken so that Plaintiff's injuries could not be documented or photographed. Id. Likin avers that Plaintiff's allegations in the ARP were untrue and fabricated. Id. The ARP was dismissed on October 10, 2013. Id. Likin avers that he never ordered staff to assault an inmate. Id.
Plaintiff's medical records reveal that on September 11, 2013, at approximately 6:03 p.m., Ryan Browning, LPN attempted to evaluate Plaintiff. Id., Ex. 12. Plaintiff refused to provide his name and identification number, or to even look at Browning. Id. Plaintiff declined to say whether he had any injuries. Id. Browning did not observe any injuries and noted there was no glass on Plaintiff. Id. No vitals were taken due to Plaintiff's lack of cooperation. Id.
The following day, at approximately 2:48 a.m., Plaintiff was seen by James Wilt, RN. Id. Plaintiff complained of bilateral wrist pain, swelling, and a broken tooth. Id. Notably, he did not indicate to medical personnel that he had been assaulted by correctional staff. See id. No swelling in the wrist, forearm or hand was observed. Id. Wilt noted that tooth #9 was slightly loose, but there were "no vis[i]ble signs of trauma to [the] tooth, lips, or gum areas." Id. Plaintiff "appeared to be in no distress, " and the injuries Plaintiff complained of "were in areas where there was scarring from old wounds." Id. Wilt further noted that there was "[n]o edema to [Plaintiff's] wrists, mouth or head." Id. The following day, Plaintiff requested to review his medical chart. Id. Plaintiff was next seen in the medical department on September 13, 2013. Id. His only complaint was a sore throat and he requested new insoles. Id. Plaintiff was next evaluated on September 19, 2013, due to his continued complaint of a sore throat. Id. On September 29, 2013, Plaintiff again requested a chart review. Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
I. Motion to ...