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Richardson v. Lambert

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 26, 2016

ZANDER LAMONT RICHARDSON, JR., #412-735, Plaintiff
v.
OFFICER JESSE LAMBERT[1]Defendant

MEMORANDUM

James K. Bredar United States District Judge.

In Richardson v. Crites, et al., Civil Action No. JKB-15-2200, plaintiff Zander Lamont Richardson, Jr. (“Richardson”), a Maryland prisoner presently housed at North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland, filed a civil rights complaint seeking money damages for two assaults alleged to have occurred at the hands of NBCI correctional officers. He also raised an unrelated claim concerning poor conditions of confinement with regard to his cell assignment. Id., ECF No. 1. By order dated July 30, 2015, the conditions of confinement claim was dismissed without prejudice and Richardson was granted an opportunity to amend his complaint to name the individuals involved in the assaults. Id., ECF No. 3. In his amendment, plaintiff claimed that Officer Crites (“Crites”) assaulted him on June 10, 2014, and Officer Lambert assaulted him on April 15, 2014. Id., ECF No. 4 at 3.

The claim alleging the April 15, 2014 assault was opened as the instant action, and the claim against Lambert proceeded for service of process. ECF No. 4. In response, Lambert has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 11), and Richardson has filed opposition responses. ECF Nos. 13-16. No hearing is needed to resolve the motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, defendant Lambert’s motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, is GRANTED.

Standard of Review

Lambert’s motion relies on materials outside the pleadings, and is construed as a motion for summary judgment, governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Pursuant to Rule 56, the motion must be granted if a defendant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In weighing a defendant’s motion, this court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and draw all inferences in his favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness credibility. See Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002).

Because Richardson is self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, this court has an “affirmative obligation” to prevent factually unsupported claims from proceeding to trial. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).

Background

In his unverified amended complaint, [2] Richardson claims that on April 15, 2014 Lambert assaulted him “with pushes and aggression, ” “call[ed] a code” and falsely charged Richardson with rules violations. He also complains that video surveillance of the incident was not made available at his adjustment hearing. ECF No. 1 at p. 3.[3]

Defendant Lambert presents a vastly different narrative.[4] Lambert avers that the incident, which did not involve use of force against Richardson, occurred on April 12, 2014. He further avers that after the incident, he wrote an Inmate Rule Violation, charging Richardson with assault on staff, use of threatening language, interfering with duties, and refusing a housing assignment. ECF No. 11-3, Lambert Decl. at ¶¶ 4-5.

Lambert indicates that on April 12, 2014, he removed Richardson from his cell so that it could be prepared to house a second prisoner. Richardson objected, stating he would not go back into his cell. ECF No. 11-2 at p. 11. When Lambert told him refusal would result in Richardson receiving an adjustment ticket, Richardson became argumentative and yelled “Lambert is nothing but a back stabbing bitch.” Id. As Lambert escorted Richardson from the tier, Richardson resisted, turning towards Lambert. Id. Once Richardson was removed from the tier, he threatened to “head butt” Lambert in the face. Id. Lambert placed Richardson in a holding cell to allow him to calm down; as the holding cell door closed, Richardson turned and attempted to kick Lambert. Id.

No “Use of Force” report or Serious Incident Report was prepared as a result of the incident. ECF No. 11-4, ¶ 5, Beeman Decl. Nonetheless, Richardson was cited with violating institutional rules. He was found guilty of attempting to injure Lambert as well as interfering with the escort and refusing housing at an April 15, 2014 adjustment hearing. ECF No. 11-2 at p. 7. Because of his poor adjustment hearing, Richardson was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days of good conduct credits[5] and 225 days of disciplinary segregation. Id. He appeared at his adjustment hearing but was removed due to his disruptive behavior. Id. at pp. 6-7. The hearing officer’s recommendations were approved and the assistant warden also imposed 45 days of cell restriction concurrent to the other sanctions, as part of NBCI’s Reduction in Violence Committee initiative. Id. at pp. 1-4.

Richardson’s medical record for the week following the alleged assault indicates his only medical problem concerned a moveable cyst on his scalp. ECF No. 11-7 at pp. 2-4.

Analysis

A. Allegation Concerning Use ...


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