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Allen v. Lark

United States District Court, District of Maryland

March 10, 2015

LAWRENCE ALLEN, # 252901, Plaintiff,
VINCENT J. LARK, et al., Defendants.



On April 28, 2014, Plaintiff Lawrence Allen, an inmate formerly housed at Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), filed this self-represented Complaint alleging he was severely assaulted by correctional officers in April 2014, and that conditions in Housing Unit 4 are intolerable due to lack of clothing, medication, and freezing temperatures. ECF No. 1. Allen has supplemented and amended the Complaint on six occasions. ECF Nos. 2, 3, 8, 11, 12, 16.[1] On July 28, 2014, Allen filed an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction seeking a transfer from WCI where he claimed his life was endangered by the correctional staff's egregious and continuous abuse.[2] ECF No. 20. Allen was transferred to the North Branch Correctional Institution during the pendency of his motion, thus rendering his request for injunctive relief moot, and it shall be denied accordingly. Now pending before the Court, and addressed herein, is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment filed on December 22, 2014. ECF No. 53. Allen responded in opposition on January 8 and 15, 2015. ECF Nos. 58, 61.


At all times relevant to this action, Allen was incarcerated at WCI. Allen allegedly suffers from multiple sclerosis ("MS"), arthritis, and bilateral sciatic nerve pain in his hips. This condition affects his balance and requires regular medical treatment, which he maintains he was not receiving at WCI. Allen filed this action alleging specific instances of assault by prison officers as well as general abuse, withholding medical treatment, neglect, and substandard living conditions.

I. Assault During an Institutional-Wide Cell Search

In the Complaint and its six amendments, Allen proffers three comparable accounts of assault during an institutional-wide cell search in April 2014. Allen does not seem to indicate he was assaulted on multiple occasions during April 2014, but confuses the date on which one protracted assault began-alleging April 11, 16, and 17 in different filings.

In his first account, Allen declares that on April 16, 2014, during an institutional-wide cell search, he was ordered by Officers Vincent J. Lark, Matthew J. Davis, and Brett A. Wilburn to place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. ECF No. 1, at 1. Allen maintains he showed all three officers, as well as Sergeant Brett E. Payton, a medical order stating he should be cuffed with two sets of handcuffs or be provided with a cane for support. Id. Allen states that the medical order was signed by Dr. Ottey and approved by the Chief of Security, Michael Thomas, and the Building Manager for Housing Unit 4, Lt. William Gordon, Jr. Id.

Allen avers that Lark "snatched" the paperwork from his hand and pushed him into the cell wall with such force that two of his teeth broke, that Davis and Wilburn cuffed him using one pair of handcuffs, that Davis and Wilburn "dropped" him to the floor where they kicked him in the face and berated him with racial slurs for getting blood on their uniforms, and that Officer Jeremiah L. Fontaine spit on him and yelled "get up dog you can walk." Id. Payton ordered the officers to take Allen to cell B-1. Id. Allen declares he was dragged to the cell, bleeding and injured, where he was further assaulted and beaten, even "after his bowels broke" and he urinated on himself. Id. Allen professes he was then pepper sprayed and left in the freezing cold cell-bleeding, choking, and soiled in his own bodily waste. Id. at 2. Allen does not state how long he was left in this state, but asserts that he was eventually taken to a different cell and told to clean himself up. Id. As Allen was putting his glasses on, he was again pushed, causing him to lose his balance and fall face-first into a heater located at the bottom of the wall. Id. Allen's glasses broke and he claims the shattered glass was forced into his eyes. Id. Following the assault, Officers Faust and Wilson began throwing all of his property out onto the tier, including "stationary, mail, photos of dead parents, legal mail, [and] cosmetics." Id.

In his second account, Allen asserts that on April 17, 2014, Wilburn, Lark, Fontaine, and Davis asked him to step out onto the tier and strip during the prison-wide cell search. ECF No. 8, at 3. Allen professes he "took his time" due to balance issues caused by his MS. Id. He claims Payton pushed him onto Lark, who then smacked him so hard it shattered his eye glasses. Id. Allen states that Wilburn demanded he "crawl like a dog, " that Fontaine and Davis pushed him up against the cell wall by the window, and that Lark "kicked teeth out." Payton ordered officers to drag him out of the cell and down to B-1 holding, where he states his "bowels broke" and Wilburn "maced" him in the face. Id. Allen avows he was then left in the holding cell injured, choking, and soiled. Id. Following the assault, Allen states his cellmate told him that all his property was thrown onto the tier. Id.

In his third account, Allen names "Wexford Medical Corporation" as a Defendant, but includes no allegations against the medical care contractor. ECF No. 11. Rather, Allen again claims he was assaulted during institutional-wide cell searches, but states the assault occurred on April 11, 2014. Id. at 4. He alleges Payton directed Wilson, Lark, Fontaine, and Davis to search his cell, and when he had trouble walking out of the cell due to his MS, he was "slapped, beaten, spit on, dragged by hair, teeth slapped [and] knocked out." Id. Allen adds that he was left in the holding cell injured and maced, that "medical staff as a whole . . . didn't care, " and that "one nurse Maria said they told her to stay out of it." Id.

II. Withholding Medical Treatment

Allen avows that he was denied necessary medical treatment on three separate occasions. On April 17, 2014, during medical rounds occurring after the alleged assault during the institutional-wide cell search, "RN Lori" saw Allen's face and told Officer Kirby that Allen should be brought to the medical department. ECF No. 1, at 1. Allen affirms he was assessed and that it was noted he had two teeth missing, lacerations to his eyes, a sprained neck, a sprained shoulder, two black eyes, and possible fractures to the discs in his neck. Id. He further alleges that "Nurse Manager Kym was horrified by [the] injuries." Id. Allen was scheduled to receive an injection for treatment of his MS, but maintains security staff would not allow Kym to administer the MS medication nor any other medications for his injuries. Id.

On April 21, 2014, while housed in cell B-1, Allen insists that medical treatment was again withheld when the medical staff was conducting insulin rounds. ECF No. 3, at 1. In response to his screams for assistance, Allen asserts Officers Linn, Snyder, and Crumbbeck came to his cell and beat him into submission, threatening that if he yelled for medical personnel again they would come back and beat him to death. Id. Allen indicated he was afraid he would either be killed or further denied MS medication if he stayed at WCI. Id. at 2.

On June 13, 2014, Allen claims security staff in Housing Unit 4 refused to escort him to medical or to allow medical staff to treat him for glaucoma. ECF No. 12, at 1. Allen claims he has fourth stage MS and glaucoma, for which he is prescribed three shots of "double ...

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