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Hurt v. Corrections Ofc. Rounds

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 17, 2016

RAY D. HURT Plaintiff
v.
CORRECTIONS OFC. ROUNDS, et al. Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14) in response to the above-entitled civil rights action. The motion is unopposed by Plaintiff.[1] The court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, Defendants’ motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be granted.

Background

Plaintiff Ray D. Hurt (“Hurt”), a prisoner confined to North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”), alleged in his initial Complaint that he was assaulted by Officer Rounds on January 20, 2015. ECF No. 1 at p. 3. Hurt states that Rounds sprayed pepper spray into his cell without reason and, when he was escorting Hurt to medical, intentionally broke Hurt’s ribs. He further claims that Sgt. Iams, whom he names as a Defendant, and the unknown shift commander allowed the improper assault to take place. Id.

According to Hurt, his left lower rib suffered a clean break and is misaligned. He asserts the fracture is “evident to the touch.” ECF No 1 at p. 3. Hurt further claims that after he had an x-ray performed on February 10, 2015, the unknown x-ray technician, provided a “fraudulent x-ray” in order to assist correctional defendants. Id.

Hurt filed a verified Amended Complaint, providing further detail of the claims raised. ECF No. 4. He states that on January 20, 2015, Rounds pepper-sprayed him through the feed-up slot of his one-man cell after the “two had been engaged in a verbal dispute.” Id. at p. 3. Hurt states that following the pepper spray, Rounds handcuffed him behind his back through the feed-up slot and opened the cell door. Id. Hurt alleges he was escorted to the medical room for housing unit one, where there are no surveillance cameras and, upon arriving, Rounds punched Hurt in the stomach, [2] resulting in one broken rib. Id.

Hurt claims he was then strip searched and handcuffed again behind his back. Hurt was then escorted with his hands pulled upwards and his head pushed down to a different housing unit. ECF No. 4 at p. 3. Hurt claims that during the escort, Rounds kneed him in the face in response to “words” spoken by Hurt. Id.

Hurt states he was denied access to an x-ray of his ribs until February 10, 2015. ECF No. 4 at p. 3. Hurt further states that, upon being informed he was being taken to Western Correctional Institution for an x-ray, he “opted to secure a metal pen tip to the skin area surrounding his left lower rib for the purpose of ensuring that the x-ray generated by medical personnel was in fact his own.” Id. Hurt states that the x-ray technician told him that, after an initial x-ray, he had to remove the pen tip from his person so that another x-ray could be performed. Hurt states he never saw either set of x-rays. Id.

Hurt was later informed by Krista Swan, a nurse, that the x-ray did not reveal any fracture to his rib. ECF No. 4 at p. 3. Hurt states, however, that he experienced persistent pain from the date of the assault to as late as March 15, 2015. He indicates “it feels to his fingers as if a jagged piece of bone rests where the break occurred.” Id. In addition, Hurt states that he cannot stretch out with his left arm raised while lying on his side without first bracing his midsection. Id.

Hurt claims he attempted to file a complaint under the Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) on February 13, 2015, regarding the events that took place on January 20, 2015, and the x-ray on February 10, 2015. ECF No. 4 at p. 3. He alleges that “for the second time” he was denied the ability to file the ARP by Rounds who he claims removed the ARP from his cell door and “d[id] something with it.” Id. at pp. 3 - 4. Hurt states that Rounds neither filed the ARP nor returned the carbon copy to Hurt as required by applicable regulations. Id. at p. 4. Hurt further claims that he “repeatedly tried and failed to obtain another blank ARP” and therefore resorted to filing the instant lawsuit. Id.

Hurt states that after the 30 day time period for filing an ARP expired, he also sent a letter to the Internal Investigation Unit (“IIU”). ECF No. 4 at p. 4. He claims he contacted IIU because he learned that no serious incident report had been generated regarding Rounds’ assault and because Rounds had not been disciplined. Id., see also ECF No. 4-1.

Hurt claims that on February 23, 2015, he was placed on cell restriction. ECF No. 4 at p. 4. He asserts that the restriction was imposed “not 12 hours past his mailing of the original . . . complaint” to this court. Id.

Hurt states that on February 25, 2015, he returned to his cell from his once a week outside recreation to discover a partially written notice of infraction left on his bed. ECF No. 4 at p. 4. He claims the notice of infraction was incomplete as it did not include a written narrative of what he was accused of doing on January 20, 2015, but simply listed a series of rule violations, including a “class 100” rule. Id. Hurt surmises that the notice of infraction was left in his cell by Defendant Rounds’ father. Id.

Hurt further alleges the paperwork left in his cell noted a hearing that took place on January 29, 2015. ECF No. 4 at p. 4. He suggests that surveillance video from the housing unit tier will confirm that he was never escorted to the hearing, nor was he offered the option of attending the hearing. Id. Hurt claims he also never received notice of the disciplinary charges against him. Id.

Defendant Rounds submits a declaration under oath regarding the January 20, 2015 incident. ECF No. 14 at Ex. 1.[3] He states that he was attempting to move Hurt out of his cell because he was “spreading a mixture of urine and feces” onto the prison tier “by pushing it under the cell door.” Id. at ¶4. Rounds approached the cell door, opened the security slot on the door, and ordered Hurt to come to the door to be handcuffed. Id. Hurt refused to comply with the order, ran over to his bunk, reached underneath the bed, and grabbed “a cereal container.” Id. at ¶5. Hurt returned to the cell door and threw an unknown substance at Rounds. Id. Rounds states that, given that Hurt was pushing urine and feces out onto the tier, he believed the substance Hurt threw at him was also urine and feces, or what is known as a “correctional cocktail.” Id.

Rounds states that when Hurt threw the substance toward him through the security slot, he defended himself by deploying pepper spray into the cell, hitting Hurt in the face with pepper spray. ECF No. 14 at Ex. 1, ¶¶ 5 and 6. Rounds then ordered Hurt to stop and to comply with orders to be handcuffed. Id. at ¶6. Hurt complied with the order by placing his hands through the security slot, submitting to handcuffing. Id.

Rounds and Officer Toby Tucker escorted Hurt from his cell to the medical room to be examined after Hurt was restrained. ECF No. 14 at Ex. 1, ¶7. Hurt was examined by Shawna Shumaker, R.N. and Rounds offered him the opportunity to take a decontamination shower. Id. at ¶8. Hurt declined the decontamination shower. Id. Pictures were taken of Hurt by Officer Nicholas Soltas. Id., see also. Ex. 1 at pp. 6 - 7.

Rounds states that Hurt was escorted to the property room strip cage to be strip searched. ECF No. 14 at Ex. 1, ¶9. Following the strip search, Hurt was returned to a cell located in the segregation unit where he had been housed prior to the incident. Id. Rounds denies ever kicking or striking Hurt and claims the escort of Hurt to and from the medical room was without incident. Id. at ¶10. Rounds also denies administering or interfering with medical care and confiscating any ARP belonging to Hurt. Id. at ¶¶11 and 12.

The notice of infraction, which includes a description of the events leading to the use of pepper spray against Hurt, indicates it was written on January 20, 2015, and was reviewed by Shift Supervisor T. Sawyers. ECF No. 14 at Ex. 1, p. 3. Hurt was charged with violating rule 105 (possession, use or manufacture of a weapon), rule 312 (interfering with performance of staff duties), and rule 405 (disrespect or vulgar ...


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