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Hendrick v. Bishop

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 15, 2016

LARNELL HENDRICK, Prisoner Identification No. 209-362 Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK B. BISHOP, individually and as Warden of North Branch Correctional Institution, LIEUTENANT SAWYERS, in his individual and official capacity, SERGEANT G. FORNEY, in his individual and official capacity, CO II SOLTAS, in his individual and official capacity, CO II ANDERSON, individually and in an official capacity, BILL BEEMAN, individually and as Medical Director of North Branch Correctional Institution, and DR. AVA JOUBERT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THEODORE D. CHUANG, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Lamell Hendrick, an inmate at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI") in Cumberland, Maryland, has filed suit under 42 U.S.C. S 1983 against Defendants Frank B. Bishop, Warden of NBCI ("Warden Bishop"); Lt. Thomas Sawyers; Sgt. Gregory Forney; CO II Nicholas Soltas; and CO II Chris Anderson (collectively, the "State Defendants"), as well as Bill Beeman, the Medical Director at NBCI; and Dr. Ava Joubert, a physician at NBCI (collectively, the "Medical Defendants"). Hendrick alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by (1) participating in his reassignment from a single cell to a double cell in contravention of his medical and safety needs; and (2) reassigning him in retaliation for filing administrative grievances against correctional officers he had previously accused of excessive force and for refusing to withdraw those complaints. Hendrick also alleges that the State Defendants violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force against him in moving him to the double cell.

Presently pending before the Court is the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 50; the Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Hendrick's Retaliation Claims, ECF No. 66, and Hendrick's Motion to Strike the Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 71. The matter is ready for disposition, and a hearing is not necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Hendrick's Motion to Strike is DENIED, the State Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART; and the Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

This is not the first time that the Court has addressed Hendrick's claims. On September 29, 2015, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion on the Medical Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. See Hendrick v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ('Hendrick I'), No. TDC-14-2544, 2015 WL 5766320 (D. Md. Sept. 29, 2015). The facts and procedural history of this case are set forth in detail in that Opinion, which is incorporated herein by reference. See id Additional facts are referenced below as necessary as they relate to the analysis of the specific Motions.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Strike the Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

Hendrick asks the Court to strike the Medical Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on the retaliation claim because the Medical Defendants failed to assert that argument in its prior Motion for Summary Judgment. The Motion is denied because a motion for summary judgment may be filed at any time until 30 days after the close of all discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b). Discovery has not begun, let alone close, so there is no basis for striking the motion. The Motion to Strike is denied.

II. Motions for Summary Judgment

The State Defendants seek dismissal or summary judgment on the grounds that Hendrick has failed to exhaust administrative remedies; that Hendrick has not established that his placement in a double cell violates the Eighth Amendment, that the State Defendants used excessive force against him, or that Defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights; and that they are entitled to qualified immunity. The Medical Defendants seek summary judgment on the grounds that Hendrick has not established a viable claim for retaliation against them.

A. Legal Standard

Because Defendants have attached documents and declarations to their Motion, and consideration of those documents is necessary to evaluate their arguments, the Motion will be construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) (stating that if "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56"). Where Hendrick has not requested discovery but has instead responded to the Motions by attaching his own declarations and exhibits, the Court may properly consider summary judgment. Evans v. Techs. Applications & Servo Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996).

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nomnoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Felty v. Grave-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987).

The nomnoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushtta Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). "A material fact is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248) (internal quotation marks omitted). A dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the nomnoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49.

B. Eighth Amendment Claims Regarding Placement in a Double Cell

The State Defendants seek summary judgment on Hendrick's claims that his placement in a double cell violated the Eighth Amendment because that placement exhibited deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and deprived him of "reasonable safety." PL's Mot. Amend PL's Compl. ¶ II, ECF No. 55. Since the filing of the State Defendants' Motion, the Court addressed these issues in granting summary judgment in favor of the Medical Defendants in its Memorandum Opinion of September 29, 205.. See Hendrick I, 2015 WL 5766320, at *6-9. In that Opinion, the Court concluded, based on the same evidence Hendrick presented on this Motion, that Hendrick's placement in a double cell did not constitute "deliberate indifference" to a serious medical need, id. at *7-8[1] For the reasons stated in that Opinion, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of the State Defendants on this claim.

To the extent that Hendrick's claim that placement in a double cell deprived him of reasonable safety could be construed as asserting a separate Eighth Amendment claim, that argument is also foreclosed by the Court's earlier Opinion. The Court specifically concluded, on the same evidence offered by Hendrick, that Hendrick's placement in double cell did not cause an excessive risk to his safety. Id. at *9. Based on the same analysis, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of the State Defendants on this claim.

c. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

On the remaining claims relating to excessive force and retaliation, the State Defendants assert that Hendrick's claims must be dismissed because he failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (2012), provides that:

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 until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725-26 (4th Cir. 2008) (holding that a court may dismiss a claim if the plaintiff "was afforded an opportunity to respond to the defendant[s] contentions that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies" as required ' by the PLRA). This exhaustion requirement mandates "proper exhaustion, " by which inmates must complete the administrative review process, including meeting procedural requirements and applicable deadlines, before filing a claim in federal court. See Woodford v. Ngo, 5 ...


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