United States District Court, D. Maryland
BRUCE W. KOENIG, #288937 Plaintiff,
STATE OF MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.
J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.
This complaint for injunctive relief and damages, alleges that defendants failed to accommodate plaintiff's hearing and mobility disabilities while housed at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"). Plaintiff claims that he was not provided special accommodations for his disabilities affecting his day-to-day prison activities. He alleges violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("RHA"). ECF No. 1.
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 19. Although afforded several extensions of time, plaintiff has not filed a response. The case is ready for consideration and defendants' motion, treated as a motion for summary judgment, may be determined without oral hearing. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md. 2014).
Standard of Review
Because matters outside the pleadings will be considered, defendants' motion shall be treated as a 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 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.
See 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 reasonable inferences in [his] 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 factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).
In Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, the Supreme Court explained that in considering a motion for summary judgment, the "judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. Thus, "the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Id. at 252.
The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. No genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. Therefore, on those issues on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Nurse Kristi Cortez, employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. at NBCI, affirms that plaintiff is a sixty-five year old male under chronic care supervision with a medical history significant for hyperlipidemia, dermatitis, depressive disorder, asthma, hypertension, and Meniere's Disease. Cortez maintains that she observed plaintiff ambulating in his cell without a cane. Further, she affirms and although plaintiff claimed that he had difficulty hearing medical personnel, she observed him responding to correctional officers from a distance. ECF No. 19, Ex. 1 at Cortez Aff. Cortez further insists that in November of 2013, plaintiff passed an audiometry examination showing that his hearing was within normal limits in both his ears. She maintains that he is able to perform normal activities of daily living and has been provided a cane to assist his ambulation. Id.
Defendants claim that plaintiff was assigned to NBCI from February 27, 2008 to January 15, 2014, when he was transferred to the Western Correctional Institution. Id., Ex. 2 at Durst Decl. While housed at NBCI and when not on segregation status plaintiff was assigned to programming; sanitation, dietary, and special utility work details; and was a library aide for a three-week period of time. Id. Defendants additionally claim that plaintiff was not denied the ability to participate in his Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO") hearings and a real-time transcriptionist was provided for him on April of 2010. In October of 2011, he was able to represent himself at an IGO hearing without the assistance of a transcriptionist. Id. They further assert that when plaintiff appeared before Adjustment Hearing Officer ("AHO") Maddox in 2012, special arrangements were made to conduct an in-person ...