United States District Court, D. Maryland
PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.
This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action seeks money damages against two correctional officers. Plaintiff Le'Brayya Manzur ("Manzur"), a Maryland Division of Correction ("DOC") prisoner currently incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women ("MCI-W"), claims that on April 26, 2013, she objected when Officer Tara Barris-Stewart ("Barris-Stewart") placed her in handcuffs that were too tight. The verbal exchange became heated. Manzur states that Sergeant Danisha Daney ("Daney") then entered the cell and pushed Manzur, who was handcuffed, causing her to fall over a box on the floor in her cell. Manzur, who alleges her cries for help were ignored for close to an hour, sustained a broken arm that required surgical repair as a result of the fall. ECF NO. 1, at 3-8.
Defendants, through counsel, have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, as supplemented (ECF Nos. 8 and 13) which is opposed by Manzur (ECF No. 12). Defendants contend that Manzur was belligerent, complaining about the tightness of the handcuffs. When she would not calm down, she was denied a shower. Defendants allege that no contact between corrections officers and Manzur occurred; Manzur simply tripped over a box in her cell, and promptly was taken to the medical department without further incident. Defendants provide documents (including declarations under oath) concerning the investigation of the incident as well as relevant medical records, and they argue that Manzur's allegations should be dismissed because they were not fully addressed through the prison administrative remedy process.
For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, IS GRANTED with regard to allegations concerning the denial of prompt medical care, but IS DENIED as to the claim of excessive use of force.
Standard of Review
"The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion [to dismiss] is to test the sufficiency of a complaint.'" McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by the defendant that, even if the facts that plaintiff alleges are true, the complaint fails, as a matter of law, "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Therefore, in considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "accept[ ] as true the well-pled facts in the complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Brockington v. Boykins, 637 F.3d 503, 505 (4th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
Defendants' motion, however, relies on materials outside the pleadings, and is construed as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides in part:
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. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis omitted). "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 inferences in her 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). Because Manzur is self-represented, her submissions are liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But the court must 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 Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).
Defendants have raised an affirmative defense to Manzur's claims of excessive use of force and denial of prompt medical care. They allege that the complaint must be dismissed in its entirety due to Manzur's failure to exhaust administrative remedies. ECF No. 8-1, at 8-11.
The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act provides, in pertinent part:
(a) Applicability of administrative remedies No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility ...