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Horner v. Corcoran

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 15, 2015

WARDEN DAYENA CORCORAN, et al., Defendants


ELLEN L. HOLLANDER, District Judge.

Self-represented plaintiff Brandon Tyler Horner, a Maryland prisoner currently incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), filed a civil rights suit against several defendants: Warden Dayena Corcoran; Captain Robert Dean; Lt. George Harrison II; Captain Shanea Ross; Lt. Anthony Gray; and Domingo Geruso. ECF No. 1.[1] In sum, plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to protect him from a sexual assault committed by another inmate. Defendants have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. ECF No. 14 (the "Motion").[2] The Motion is supported by many exhibits. Plaintiff has not filed a response.[3]

No hearing in necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.

Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that while he was housed at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup ("MCI-J"), he was placed into a cell with a "B.G.F.' gang member" and beaten and threatened. Horner states that he asked defendants to move him from the cell but was told to "deal with it." ECF No. 1 at 4. According to Horner, he was subsequently raped by his cellmate on December 30, 2013. Id. Plaintiff reported the assault on that date. See ECF 14-3 at 6. Horner was promptly evaluated and treated at Mercy Medical Center, a hospital in Baltimore, ECF 14-3 at 7.

Horner attached to his complaint an administrative remedy request ("ARP") dated January 1, 2014, submitted while Horner was housed at MCI-J. ECF 1-1. In the ARP, Horner asked to be moved to a different facility and indicated he was raped on December 30, 2013. Horner stated in the ARP that he was in fear for his life because of his having pressed charges against his assailant. Id. And, he sought the firing of the classification person who placed Horner in the cell with his assailant. Id.

Defendants do not dispute that plaintiff was raped by his cellmate while housed at MCI-J. They dispute, however, that any correctional employee was aware of a risk of harm to Horner's safety prior to the incident. See generally ECF No. 14-1 (Memorandum of Law).

In support of their Motion, defendants indicate that plaintiff was admitted to the State prison system on December 10, 2013 (ECF 14-2 at 31), and was transferred to MCI-J on the morning of December 30, 2013, just a few hours before the sexual assault. Id. at 46. In particular, at 9:20 a.m. on December 30, 2013, Horner was received into MCI-J from the Maryland Reception Diagnostic and Classification Center ("MRDCC") and assigned to FW-245 with cellmate Bruce[4] McDougald. ECF No. 14-2 at 17, 31. Both Horner and McDougald were classified as medium security inmates. Id. at 6. McDougald is serving a nine year term of confinement for indecent exposure and distribution of controlled dangerous substances. ECF 14-2 at 6; ECF 14-3 at 5. Plaintiff is serving an eight year sentence for "Theft-Felony/CDS." ECF 14-2 at 6. Contrary to Horner's assertion, McDougald is not a verified member of any Security Threat Group. ECF No. 14-3 at 5. Moreover, as of the time of the incident, he had only two rules infractions during his three years of incarceration. ECF 14-2 at 21-22.

Beginning on December 30, 2013, an investigation was conducted by the Internal Investigative Unit ("IIU"). Horner advised the IIU investigator that on December 30, 2013, both he and McDougald went to lunch, returning to their cells around 12:30 p.m. ECF No. 14-3 at 5. Horner went to sleep and McDougald went to recreation, returning to the cell around 3:00 p.m. Id. After returning to the cell, McDougald began making sexual comments to Horner. Id. An officer came around for count and McDougald instructed Horner to show his ID badge for count, which he did. Id. Ultimately, McDougald forcibly raped Horner at knife point. Id at 6. At approximately 4:00 p.m. the inmates were instructed to "prepare for chow." Id. Horner went to eat, ate as quickly as possible, and then at approximately 6:00 p.m. reported the assault to Sgt. Adekunle Aderinoye. ECF No. 14-3 at 6; ECF No. 14-2 at 7.

Horner was interviewed by Lt. Gray, ECF No. 14-2 at 7, and gave a written statement concerning the assault. Id. at 28. He was also interviewed regarding the incident at Mercy Hospital, where he was taken for further treatment and evaluation. ECF No. 14-3 at 5. The records do not indicate that, prior to the assault, Horner feared for his safety or communicated a fear for his safety to any prison staff member. To the contrary, Horner indicated that McDougald had threatened him and then an officer came around for count but Horner did not seek the officer's assistance, apparently due to threats by McDougald. ECF 14-3 at 5 (IIU investigation summarizing Horner's statement of the assault).

After Horner reported the assault, he was seen by medical staff at MCI-J, ECF No. 14-2 at 41, and then transported to Mercy Hospital for further medical evaluation. Id. McDougald was also interviewed and gave a statement of the activities of the day, which did not reference any physical incident. Id. at 7. Horner and McDougald were both transferred to administrative segregation pending an investigation of the matter. Id. at 25-26, 37-38.

Among other things, on August 25, 2014, laboratory analysis revealed that semen was identified on anal swabs collected from Horner after the incident, and the DNA obtained from the semen matched that of McDougald. ECF 14-3 at 8. Based on forensic evidence and Horner's statements, McDougald was charged in the District Court of Maryland for Anne Arundel County with First Degree Sex Offense and related charges. ECF No. 14-3 at 8-9, 12-18.

McDougald is now listed on Horner's known enemy lists. ECF No. 14-2 at 47. Horner and McDougald are not housed at the same institution. Id. In fact, Horner was moved to administrative segregation on the date of the incident and moved to a new facility on February 20, 2014. ECF No. 14-2 at 30, 37; ECF No. 1.

Defendants maintain that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies in that at the time he filed the instant complaint he had not filed any claim with the Inmate Grievance Office. ECF 14-3.

Standard of Review

Defendant's motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. ECF No. 12. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery County, 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). Ordinarily, a court "is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, "the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the movant expressly captions its motion "in the alternative" as one for summary judgment, and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court "does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious." Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).[5]

A district judge has "complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it." 5C WRIGHT & MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE ยง 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.). This discretion "should be exercised with great caution and attention to the parties' procedural rights." Id. at 149. In general, courts are guided by whether consideration of extraneous material "is likely to ...

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