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Rolph v. Warden, Balt. Co. Det. Center

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 26, 2016

WARDEN, Balt. Co. Det. Center, et al., Defendants


Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the self-represented plaintiff, John Michael Rolph II, filed a civil rights action on August 24, 2015, against the “Warden of Baltimore County Detention Center and two others to be named later (Correctional Officials).” ECF 1 at 1.[1] The named defendant filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. ECF 11. It is supported by a legal memorandum (ECF 11-1) (collectively, the “Motion”) and numerous exhibits. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF 14 (“Opposition”). No reply was filed by defendant, and the time to do so has expired.

Plaintiff has also filed correspondence in this case, most of which constitutes inquiries as to the status of this case. See ECF 15 - ECF 18. The most recent correspondence, however, includes a self-represented complaint regarding events at Spring Grove Hospital, where Rolph is now located, naming Dr. Sabba as a defendant. ECF 19 at 3 - 11.[2] That complaint is unrelated to the instant case. Therefore, I will direct the Clerk to open a new civil case for processing of the claims stated therein.

No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons stated below, defendant’s Motion shall be construed as one for summary judgment and shall be granted.

I. Factual Background

Rolph alleges that on February 28, 2015, during the intake process at the Baltimore County Detention Center (“BCDC”), two correctional officers used a box cutter to slice through the laces on his shoes without first asking him to remove the laces voluntarily.[3] He claims the officers used “brute strength” to slice the laces, causing the box cutter blade to slice through his shoe and into the top of his foot. ECF 1 at 3. According to Rolph, a camera that was stationed four feet over his head captured the entire event. He describes the resulting injury to his right foot as “an incision . . . about a half an inch deep” (id.) and “two inches long.” Id. at 5.[4]Further, Rolph maintains that he did not offer any resistance, but the “officer was totally out of control” (id. at 4), and that it took one month for the wound on his foot to heal. Id. at 5. He adds that he has a permanent scar on his right wrist because the handcuffs he was wearing at the time of the incident were too tight and the officer would not adjust them. Id.

Rolph’s Complaint contains three counts. In Count I, he alleges that the actions he described constitute negligence. In Count II, he alleges assault and battery. And, in Count III, Rolph alleges failure to properly train the officers involved. Id.

The record shows the process used by BCDC when an inmate arrives at the facility. Upon arrival at BCDC, an inmate is placed in the intake holding cell and the transporting officer remains with the inmate until BCDC staff reviews the commitment paperwork and conducts an inventory of the inmate’s personal property and money. ECF 11-9 (Affidavit of Lt. Darlene Dixon), ¶ 6. During the period of time that the inmate is in the holding cell, he is asked if he has any injuries. Id. ¶ 7. If an injury is reported, a triage nurse is called to the cell to assess the injury and take further appropriate actions if necessary. Id. If no injury is reported or discovered, the inmate is “medically cleared to be accepted into the facility[.]” Id. ¶ 8. ECF 11-9 (Affidavit of Lt. Darlene Dixon), at 2-3.

When no injuries are reported on arrival, and the inmate is accepted into BCDC, he is searched, shown a video regarding rules in the facility, and permitted to make two five-minute phone calls. New inmates are provided with an inmate uniform as well as shoes and other essentials, such as sheets, a blanket, a cup, a spoon, toothpaste, deodorant, and an inmate handbook.

Notably, the triage nurse then conducts an intake screening. Following that screening, the inmates are taken to the medical section of the facility, where they are examined by a physician’s assistant before being placed in diagnostic housing. ECF 11-9, ¶¶ 8-11. All of the stated procedures were followed in Rolph’s processing into BCDC. Id. ¶ 12.

Deborah Richardson, the Director of BCDC, asserts in her Motion that Rolph was processed into BCDC as an inmate at about 1:12 a.m. on January 28, 2015. See, e.g., ECF 11-1 at 10; ECF 11-9 (Dixon Affidavit), ¶ 1. No injuries were reported by Rolph at the time of his arrival. See ECF 11-9. However, six months later, on June 28, 2015, Rolph sent Inmate Request Form #118 to Richardson (ECF 11-2), alleging that he was assaulted on January 28, 2015, and that the corrections officers used a box cutter to cut off his shoelaces, injuring his foot. Id.; see also ECF 11-9, ¶¶ 2-3. Further, Rolph claimed that the incident had been captured on video and that he was “vigilant enough to take off [his] shoe so the camera would see the contusions on [his] foot.” ECF 11-2. Rolph references informing his lawyer about the alleged event; that his mother is a politician; and that he intended to contact the media “for coverage . . . .” Id. He also demanded both “compensation of just cause” and to have his parole violation “discharged promptly.” Id. Rolph warned that, “[a]s you know the longer I stay in here the longer you get sued for just compensation, and my reciprocities are due now.” Id.

Lt. Darlene Dixon was assigned the task of investigating Rolph’s internal complaint. She has been employed by BCDC since 2001, and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2010. ECF 11-9 at 2. Dixon explains in her Affidavit that the video surveillance of Rolph’s admission into BCDC, which he has requested, was no longer available for review by the time of his request, due to the amount of time that elapsed between the date of the alleged event (January 28, 2015) and the date of his request (June 28, 2015). ECF 11-9 at 4, ¶ 13.

Lt. Dixon’s investigation included an inquiry made with Physician’s Assistant Mason, who reviewed Rolph’s medical records prepared at the time of his admission. Id. ¶ 18; see also ECF 11-6 (correspondence from Captian Luckett to Richardson, dated 7/10/15) and ECF 11-7 (medical records). These records indicate that, following Rolph’s encounter with the correctional officer who searched him, no injuries were observed, nor did Rolph complain of any injuries. Id.

In addition, Lt. Dixon’s investigation revealed that at 8:52 a.m. on January 29, 2015, approximately six hours after Rolph had arrived at BCDC, a report was prepared by Classification Supervisor Parrish indicating that a mental health provider advised that Rolph was psychotic and needed to be moved to the Mental Health Housing Unit. Id.; see also ECF 11-9 at 5, ¶ 17. Rolph was transferred to Spring Grove Hospital on July 1, 2015. ECF 11-9 at 5, ¶ 15. Because of ...

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