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Koenig v. Maryland Division of Correction

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 8, 2015

BRUCE W. KOENIG, #288937 Plaintiff,
v.
MARYLAND DIVISION OF CORRECTION RODNEY RODERICK JOHN WHITE Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Procedural History

This complaint for injunctive relief and damages, alleges that defendants (a state agency and classification management personnel) failed to provide plaintiff sufficient free copy work while housed at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"). Plaintiff further asserts that defendants Gainer and White yelled at him about the volume and nature of his copy work and had him placed on an inmate job bank, thus interfering" with a prison physician's directive to place him on a no-work status. ECF No. 1. He additionally alleges that he informed defendant Roderick about Gainer and White's actions but Roderick failed to respond to his claims. Plaintiff also claims that because of the aforementioned actions, in March of 2013, the prison physician altered his work assignment to light duty-clerical work only. He contends that the work assignment caused him to experience an injury and resulted in the removal of his indigency status, therefore rendering him unable to obtain free copy work. Id.

Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 20. Although afforded several extensions of time, plaintiff has not filed a response.[1] 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.

Analysis

Defendant Gainer, plaintiff's case manager, submits that he provided legal copy work for plaintiff on August 21, 2012, September 6, 2012, September 25, 2012, October 2, 2012, November 7, 2013, November 26, 2013, December 4, 2013, and December 18, 2013, in compliance with Division of Corrections Directives for indigent inmates. ECF No. 20-1, Gainer Decl. Defendants state that plaintiff received rule infractions on July 19, 2002, was found guilty, and sanctioned with a 90-day segregation term. ECF No. 20-2, White Decl.

Defendant Gainer recommended that plaintiff receive an early removal from segregation on September 26, 2012, and be assigned to the NBCI job bank sanitation. This recommendation was approved two days later on September 28, 2012. Id. Plaintiff was moved from Housing Unit 1 (special confinement housing) to Housing Unit 4 (general population) on October 5, 2012. Gainer remained plaintiff's case manager until his transfer to the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") on January 15, 2014. ECF No. 20-1, Gainer Decl. Gainer affirms that on October 23, 201, he conducted an annual security review for plaintiff in ...


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