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Houck v. Warden, Jessup Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 4, 2015

JAMES E. HOUCK, #421-024 Plaintiff.
v.
WARDEN, JESSUP CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GEORGE JARROD HAZEL, District Judge.

Pending is self-represented plaintiff James E. Houck's ("Houck V) Complaint and supplement filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (ECF 1. 3) and Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF 15). Defendant, the Maryland Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI"), by its counsel, has responded. (ECF 10. 20). The case has been fully briefed and is ready for disposition. A hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (Md, 2014). For reasons to follow. Houck's Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied, and this case will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Houck. who is currently housed at Western Correctional Institution (WCI) in Cumberland. Maryland, [1] filed this Complaint on December 12, 2014, which he supplemented at the direction of this Court. (ECF 3). Houck alleges that 1) he was sexually assaulted in March of 2014, and 2) he needs to be housed in protective custody because Black Guerilla Family (BGF) members want to kill him. As relief, he requested transfer to another facility. (ECF 1. 3).[2] On January 23, 2015, this Court directed the Maryland Attorney General to tile an expedited response to Plaintiffs claims and request for emergency injunctive relief. (ECF 6). On January 26, 2015. Houck supplemented his request for relief, asking for "$10 million or $8 million or $150, 000." (ECF 8).

On February 13, 2015. Defendant filed an expedited response with declarations and verified exhibits, requesting dismissal of this case as moot because Houck had been transferred to WCI. and thus had been provided the relief he requested in the Complaint. (ECF 10. Ex. 2).

On February 23, 2015. the Court denied Houck's request for emergency injunctive relief as moot, and noting that Plaintiff was also seeking monetary damages, construed the Response as a motion for summary judgment, and granted Plaintiff seventeen days to reply. (ECF 11).

On March 12, 2015, Houck filed a Reply, stating that he has four witnesses to the sexual assault he alleges and that he had Hied an emergency Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") request to substantiate his claim of sexual assault. (ECF 13). Houck does not provide the names of these witnesses or what each purportedly observed. Additionally. Houck requested another transfer, this time to an institution of his own choosing. Id. at 4.

In a letter filed on March 12, 2015. Houck complained that he has been assigned to administrative segregation, not protective custody, and BGF members are harassing him every day. (ECF 14). On the same day. Houck also submitted a filing titled "Order." which he explains is intended as a Motion for Summary Judgment for $8 million dollars. (ECF 15). The filing was docketed as a Motion for Summary Judgment. Id.

In his Motion for Summary Judgment, Houck stated that he was never supposed to be placed in the general prison population and that lie has tiled an emergency ARP request regarding the alleged sexual assault. (ECF 15). He reiterated that he has four witnesses, Id. With his Motion for Summary Judgment. Houck filed a copy of an ARP request form, dated March 5, 2015, in which he claims he should not have been placed in the general prison population at JCI, he was sexually assaulted in March of 2014. and BGF has a hit on him.[3] the ARP request form also indicated that Houck had waived attending a case management conference for administrative assignment, Id. It is unclear whether this exhibit is a copy of the "emergency ARP" Houck claims he filed to corroborate his sexual assault. If so. the exhibit is lacking in two critical respects. First, the ARP request form does not bear a Department of Correction (DOC) stamp to confirm receipt, and thus does not appear to have been properly presented to prison officials for consideration, Id. at 2-4. Second, the ARP request form is dated one year after the alleged assault occurred, and therefore, was untimely filed. See COMAR 12.07.01.05A (providing that a prisoner must file an ARP with the Warden within thirty days of the date on which the incident occurred, or within thirty days of the date the prisoner first knew of the incident or injury giving rise to the complaint, whichever date is later).

On March 16, 2015, Houck submitted another paper titled as a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 16). which was docketed as a supplement to the first Motion for Summary Judgment filed four days earlier (ECF 15). The supplement reiterated Houck's assertions that he should never have been placed in the general population at JCI. he has paperwork to show the Court that he filed an emergency ARP, and that he has four witnesses. (ECF 16). Houck attached a copy of an ARP request dated March 3, 2015. bearing the receipt stamp of the WCI ARP Office. (ECF 16). In the attached ARP request. Houck states that he fears for his safety, is harassed at WCI, and asks to be transferred out of the Hagerstown region and to be hoped in a cell without a cellmate. Id. at 2.

On March 24, 2015. Defendant filed a Response to Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment and Reply to Plaintiffs Response to Response to Order to Show Cause, supported by verified exhibits and declarations. (ECF 19).[4]

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

"It is well established that before a federal court can decide the merits of a claim, the claim must invoke the jurisdiction of the court." Miller v. Brown, 462 F.3d 312. 316 (4th Cir. 2006). Thus, "[t]he objection that a federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction may be raised by a party, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage in the litigation...." Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500. 506 (2006) (citations omitted). Because the district court resolves this issue at the Rule 12(b)(1) stage of the proceedings, the ...


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