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Reynolds v. Shearin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 10, 2015

JOHN REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
v.
BOBBY P. SHEARIN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants former Warden Bobby P. Shearin and former Chief of Security Keith R. Arnold. ECF No. 19. Plaintiff has responded.[1] ECF No. 24. Defendants and Plaintiff have filed additional sur-replies. ECF Nos. 31 & 32. Upon review of the papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' dispositive motion will be granted.

Background

John Reynolds is an inmate held at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"). Plaintiff complains, and Defendants confirm, that on October 26, 2012, he received a notice of an inmate rule violation charging him with violation of Rule 105 (use, possession, or manufacture of a weapon). ECF No. 1, p. 3; ECF No. 19, Ex. 1, Ex 2, pp. 9-11. At a November 1, 2012 adjustment hearing Plaintiff pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 275 days of disciplinary segregation, loss of 120 good conduct credits, and indefinite loss of visitation privileges. Id. On November 26, 2012, Plaintiff received a "Notice of Administrative Action" stating that in addition to his adjustment conviction he was being sentenced to 60 days of cell-restriction by the Reduction in Violence Committee ("RIV"). ECF No. 1, p. 3; ECF No. 19, Ex. 2, p. 1.

Plaintiff alleges that during cell restriction he was permitted one hour of out-of-cell exercise per week, in violation of his constitutional rights. ECF No. 1, p. 3. Plaintiff's segregation confinement records from November 27, 2012 to January 27, 2013, show that Plaintiff received recreation on December 11, 13, and 18, 2012, and January 2, 3, 9, 14, 28 and 29, 2013. ECF No. 19, Ex. 3. Plaintiff verbally refused recreation on November 30, 2012, December 5, 6, 7, 10, 17, 19, 28, and 31, 2012, and January 4, 7, 8, 17 and 18, 2013. Id. Recreation was cancelled due to security concerns or inclement weather on December 4, 12, 25, and 26, 2012, January 11, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 31, 2013. Id.

Plaintiff claims that Defendants' records are fabricated and that on unspecified dates that Defendants claim no recreation was held, recreation in fact occurred. ECF No. 24, p. 10. Plaintiff disputes that he ever verbally refused recreation. Id. He also alleges that the practical impact of assigning an inmate to cell restriction while housed on disciplinary segregation is the restriction of out of cell exercise to one hour per week. Id., Ex. 4; ECF No. 32, Ex. III(A)(3) (Affidavits from NBCI inmates attesting that while serving cell restriction on disciplinary segregation at NBCI they were provided one hour of outdoor recreation weekly). He notes that inmates otherwise housed on disciplinary segregation and not subjected to cell restriction are generally entitled to five hours of outdoor recreation weekly. ECF No. 24, Ex. 3, p. 78. Per the NBCI policy manual, recreation for segregation inmates is weather and temperature dependent, and inmates are advised that outdoor exercise is a privilege which may be denied, with cause, by the Unit Manager. Id. Additionally, segregation inmates are advised that if an inmate receives an infraction while on segregation their recreation may be withheld pending the adjustment hearing. Id.

Defendants attempt to clarify the meaning of cell restriction by indicating that cell restriction imposed by the RIV "means restriction of a resident to remain in a designated area preventing the resident from participating in resident activities including recreation, commissary activities but not work and school assignments, meals, showers, visits, facility passes and medical or psychological appointments." Ex. 31, Ex. 2. Disciplinary segregation inmates assigned to cell restriction receive recreation one day per week, pursuant to NBCI-Institutional Direction 110.0006.1, Appendix 3. Id. Despite the apparent contradiction in the effects of cell restriction i.e. all loss of recreation versus one hour weekly recreation for inmates already assigned to segregation, the parties agree that Plaintiff received at least one hour of recreation weekly while assigned to cell restriction. This fact is not in dispute.

Plaintiff offers that he attempted to have his complaints regarding lack of out of cell activity addressed through the administrative remedy process ("ARP") but Defendants and others associated with the ARP process misconstrued his grievances as raising claims regarding the RIV, rather than lack of out of cell exercise. Id., pp. 4-9.

Standard of Review

A. Motion to Dismiss

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). The dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted does not require defendant to establish "beyond doubt" that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561 (2007). Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint. Id. at 563. The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v. Charles County Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, see United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

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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