United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
On November 30, 2015, the Court received for filing inmate Anthony Kelly's self-represented 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action. The Complaint seeks damages from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and its personnel. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11), as well as legal memorandum (ECF No. 11-I),  and a number of exhibits. ECF No. 11-3 through ECF No. 11-7. In response, Kelly has filed an Emergency Motion to Strike and an Emergency Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF Nos. 13 & 15.
The matter is ready for disposition. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). Defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, IS GRANTED for reasons to follow.
Kelly, who is currently confined at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"), alleges that on October 8, 2015, he was taken off all calls from his job as an observation aide. He was informed that he had not been fired from his job and he was to remain on single-cell status. ECF No. 1 at p. 2. Kelly claims that on October 16, 2015, he was called to the office of Dr. Liller, the Chief Psychologist, questioned,  and informed he could leave. He alleges that the named Defendants stood outside Dr. Liller's office and that Defendant Simpson wanted Dr. Liller to falsely indicate that Kelly was a "danger and threat to himself and others, " but the "dirty trick did not work." Kelly maintains that Simpson was seeking an excuse to have him fired in retaliation for his filing a defamation complaint against her in state court. He states that on about October 19, 2015, Simpson reclassified him to a work sanitation detail, which also resulted in his removal from single-cell status. Id. Finally, Kelly asserts that on October 20, 2015, he spoke to Defendant Werner and was told he was being fired by Dr. Liller due to concerns about his mental health. He claims that he discussed his claims of discrimination with Defendants Alpine and Werner and was told to pack up his possessions because he was being moved out of his housing unit, away from Simpson, due to his prior lawsuit. Id. at pp. 2-3. In an attachment, Kelly contends that he filed two administrative remedy procedure ("ARP") grievances regarding his claims of retaliation and racial discrimination and was informed by Sgt. Forney that they had been "misplaced" and he should fill out another ARP form. ECF No. 1-1.
II. Standard of Review
Defendants' Motion is styled as a Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the Court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery County, 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). Ordinarily, a court "is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, "the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).
When the movant expressly captions its motion "in the alternative" as one for summary judgment, and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court "does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious." Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Autk, 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).
A district judge has "complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it." 5 C WRIGHT & MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.). This discretion "should be exercised with great caution and attention to the parties' procedural rights." Id. at 149. In general, courts are guided by whether consideration of extraneous material "is likely to facilitate the disposition of the action, " and "whether discovery prior to the utilization of the summary judgment procedure" is necessary. Id. at 165, 167. I am satisfied that given the exhibits presented here (which were also presented to Kelly), I have ample information with which to address the pleading as filed for summary judgment.
Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides in part:
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. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). In analyzing a summary judgment motion, the court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to...the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her 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);
see Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 415 U.S. 574, 587 (1986);
FDIC v. Cashion, 720 F.3d 169, 173 (4th Cir. 2013).
"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)). But, the district court's "function" is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Moreover, the trial court may not make credibility determinations on summary judgment. Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015); Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French, 499 F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007); Black &. Decker Corp. v. United States, 436 F.3d 431, 442 (4th Cir. 2006); Dennis, 290 F.3d at 644-45.
In the face of conflicting evidence, such as competing affidavits, summary judgment is generally not appropriate, because it is the function of the fact-finder to resolve factual disputes, including matters of witness credibility. Nevertheless, to defeat summary judgment, conflicting evidence, if any, must give rise to a genuine dispute of material fact. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. If "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, " then a dispute of material fact precludes summary judgment. Id. at 248; see Libertarian Party of Va. v.Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013). On the other hand, summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence "is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 252. ...