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Washington v. Maynard

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 7, 2016

LARRY WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY D. MAYNARD, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants’[1] Motion to Dismiss and/or Motion for Summary Judgment of the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 41) and Plaintiff Larry Washington’s Motion to Allow Time for Discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) (ECF No. 46). Washington asserts various federal constitutional and state common law claims arising from an attack he suffered while he was a pretrial detainee in the BCDC. The Court, having reviewed the Motions and supporting documents, finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2014). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will deny Washington’s Motion, deny the Prison Officials’ Motion for Summary Judgment, and grant in part and deny in part the Prison Officials’ Motion to Dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

A. The First Attack

Washington is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Roxbury Correctional Institution (“RCI”) in Hagerstown, Maryland. From approximately May 2011 to September 2013, Washington was a pretrial detainee at BCDC. In the spring of 2012, Washington was housed in F-section in cell 81-82. Inmate Brandon Dovi, a known member of the Black Guerilla Family (“BGF”) gang, was housed next to Washington in cell 79-80. As a sanitation worker, Washington had access to locations throughout BCDC that were inaccessible to other inmates. Attempting to exploit this access, Dovi asked Washington to transport contraband for the BGF. Washington refused. Shortly after Washington’s refusal, Dovi and several other BGF members gained access to Washington’s cell and attacked him. Captain Moore identified Dovi as Washington’s principal assailant.

Following the attack, BCDC personnel placed Dovi in punitive segregation. Because neither Washington nor Captain Moore could identify Washington’s other assailants, BCDC personnel relocated Washington to the Women’s Detention Center (“WDC”) facility within BCDC. After Washington received harassment and threats of retribution from members of the BGF while housed in the WDC, BCDC personnel relocated Washington twice more, ultimately assigning him to B-section.

B. Washington Requests Relocation

When Dovi was released from segregation, BCDC personnel assigned him to B-section-the same section where Washington was housed. When Washington first saw Dovi in B-section, he immediately reported it to CO Ffowlkes, his tier officer, “explaining that he feared he would be attacked again, or worse, if he was not relocated.” (Second Am. Compl. [“SAC”] ¶ 41, ECF No. 36). CO Ffowlkes told Washington that she would contact her supervisor to report the issue, but “nothing happened.” (Id.). CO Ffowlkes then “claimed that she could in fact do nothing to relocate Mr. Washington.” (Id.). Having obtained no action from CO Ffowlkes, Washington reported the issue to Captain Moore, who had identified Dovi as Washington’s principal assailant in the earlier attack. Captain Moore, however, claimed that she, too, “could do nothing for [Washington].” (Id. ¶ 42).

Several days later, Dovi began threatening Washington. Nevertheless, CO Ffowlkes again told Washington she could not relocate him to another housing unit. As a result, Washington wrote multiple letters to Warden Tuthill, Captain Moore, and Sergeant Porter, “imploring them to take minimum steps to protect his health and safety.” (Id. ¶ 44). These Prison Officials, however, took no action.

C. The Second Attack

Dovi’s threats worsened, and one day, after Washington again refused to transport contraband for the BGF, Dovi warned Washington that Dovi would “‘stab [Washington] that night’ unless he cooperated.” (Id. ¶ 45). At this point, Washington continued to request aid from Warden Tuthill, Captain Moore, and Sergeant Porter. (Id.). On May 31, 2012, two days after Dovi threatened Washington’s life, Dovi and several other BGF members gained access to Washington’s cell and attacked him. One of the assailants stabbed Washington in the left eye with a sharp object. BCDC personnel eventually responded and summoned an emergency medical team. As a result of the Second Attack, Washington suffered broken bones and his left eye had to be surgically removed.

D. Procedural History

Washington, acting pro se, initiated this action on December 13, 2013 by filing a Complaint (ECF No. 1) and a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 2). The Court provisionally granted Washington’s Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis on January 6, 2014. (ECF No. 3). Secretary Maynard, Warden Tuthill, and Captain Moore (collectively, the “Supervisor Prison Officials”) filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on March 6, 2014. (ECF No. 6). In response, Washington filed a brief opposition memorandum (ECF No. 9) and a Motion for Counsel (ECF No. 8). On April 3, 2014, the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss and granted Washington’s Motion for Counsel. (ECF No. 10).

Following the appointment of counsel, Washington filed Amended and Second Amended Complaints. (ECF Nos. 14, 36). In his Second Amended Complaint, Washington asserts the following claims against the Prison Officials: violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts I and II); negligence (Count IV); and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VI). Washington also brings the following claims against only the Supervisor Prison Officials: supervisory liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III); and negligent hiring, supervision, and retention (Count V).

On March 23, 2015, the Prison Officials filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment of the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 41). The Prison Officials move for summary judgment only as to the threshold issue of whether Washington’s suit is barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. They also move to dismiss all six Counts in the Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. Washington filed an Opposition (ECF No. 45) on April 15, 2015, and the Prison Officials submitted their Reply (ECF No. 49) on May 18, 2015. Washington, on April 17, 2015, also filed a Motion to Allow Time for Discovery under Rule 56(d) (ECF No 46). The Prison Officials submitted an Opposition (ECF No. 50) on May 18, 2015, and Washington filed his Reply (ECF No. 51) on June 1, 2015.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Washington’s Motion to Allow Time for Discovery under Rule 56(d)

The Prison Officials move to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) and/or for summary judgment under Rule 56. When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “the Court considers the complaint, as well as documents attached to it that are ‘integral to the complaint.’” Hamilton v. Mayor of Balt., 807 F.Supp.2d 331, 341 (D.Md. 2011) (quoting Sec’y of State for Defence v. Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007)). Under Rule 12(d), “if ‘matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court’ in connection with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, ‘the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.’” Id. Summary judgment, however, is ordinarily “inappropriate ‘where the parties have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery.’” Id. (quoting E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011).

To oppose a summary judgment motion on the grounds that more time is needed for discovery, the non-movant must file an affidavit or declaration pursuant to Rule 56(d), “explaining why, ‘for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, ’ without needed discovery.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d)). “Notably, ‘Rule 56(d) affidavits cannot simply demand discovery for the sake of discovery.’” Id. at 342 (quoting Young v. UPS, No. DKC-08-2586, 2011 WL 665321, at *20 (D.Md. Feb. 14, 2011)). “A party may not simply lament the lack of discovery; it must set forth its specific discovery needs in the Rule 56(d) affidavit.” Archer v. Freedmont Mortg. Corp., No. GLR-12-1099, 2012 WL 5193828, at *4 (D.Md. Oct. 18, 2012) (citing Curtis v. Pracht, 202 F.Supp.2d 406, 412 (D.Md. 2002)).

“A non-moving party’s Rule 56(d) request for additional discovery is properly denied ‘where the additional evidence sought for discovery would not have by itself created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment.’” Hamilton, 807 F.Supp.2d at 342 (quoting Strag v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty. Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 953 (4th Cir. 1995)). When the Court is satisfied that the Rule 56(d) motion should be granted, the Court may: “(1) defer considering the motion [for summary judgment] or deny it; (2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue any other appropriate order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d).

In Washington’s Rule 56(d) affidavit, which he attaches to his Motion, Washington emphasizes that the Prison Officials have moved for summary judgment before discovery has commenced. (Pl.’s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Allow Time for Disc. under Rule 56(d) Ex. 2, at 1, ECF No. 46-2). Washington also states that he cannot present facts essential to justify his opposition to the Prison Officials’ Motion for Summary Judgment without discovery related to “all grievances, whether formal or informal, and other letters, forms, requests, and missives” he filed at the BCDC. (Id. at 4). Washington further states that he “wishes to take the depositions of Defendants.” (Id. at 5).

The Prison Officials argue that the Court should not permit discovery because Washington could have presented an affidavit stating that he exhausted administrative remedies and Washington should already have possession of his grievance submissions. Washington asserts that administrative remedies were not available to him because “B.C.D.C. personnel” explicitly told Washington that he could not file a grievance for a personal injury. (Pl.’s Opp’n to Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss and/or for Summ. J. at 8-9, ECF No. 45). Obtaining copies of his grievances and deposing the Prison Officials, however, would not generate any facts as to whether BCDC personnel-not the Prison Officials specifically-prevented Washington from availing himself of BCDC’s grievance process.[3] Thus, ...


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