United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 action was filed on October 6, 2015.
Chauncey Bennett, who is incarcerated at the Eastern
Correctional Institution (“ECI”), seeks punitive
and compensatory damages, the restoration of back wages with
pay and raises, and the award of diminution credits he would
have earned. Bennett alleges that in the early morning hours
of September 25, 2014, a search of cells on his housing unit
was conducted outside his presence by a “drunk”
search team. He claims that upon completion of the search,
food was missing from his commissary items, property was
mixed up, and “there was no mention of
contraband.” ECF No.1.
states that following the search, he was cited with an
infraction on October 1, 2014, charging him with possession
of contraband (a “Black Street Hookers” DVD found
with his property). He maintains that at the subsequent
disciplinary hearing, he explained to Adjustment Hearing
Officer (“AHO”) Rowe that the officers were
drunk, no DVD was ever shown to him before or during the
adjustment hearing, and there was no confiscation form
stating that he had any contraband. Id. Bennett
states that the infraction form was not signed and the
infraction was written six days after the search was
conducted. He contends that Rowe’s decision to find him
guilty was “highly tainted” and the sanctions
imposed on him violated his due process rights ECF No. 1.
March 4, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for
summary judgment which has been treated as a motion for
summary judgment. ECF No. 13. Bennett has filed an
opposition response and defendants have filed a reply. ECF
Nos. 15-18. The Court has examined the record and finds that
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. (D.
Md., 2014). For reasons to follow, defendants’ summary
judgment motion will be granted.
56(a) of the federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim
or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which
summary judgment is sought. 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 court should state on the
record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.
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 former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
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). The court must, however, also
abide by the Aaffirmative obligation of the trial judge to
prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v.
Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323-24 (1986)). "The party opposing a properly
supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere
allegations or denials of [its] pleading, but must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial." Rivanna Trawlers Unlimited v. Thompson
Trawlers, Inc., 840 F.2d 236, 240 (4th Cir. 1988).
to the documents provided by defendants, on September 25,
2014, ECI Correctional Officers Holland and Arndt conducted a
cell search of ECI Housing Unit 6, Cell D06. ECF No. 13-2.
Bennett was one of the occupants of that cell. Holland
asserted that he found a sexually explicit DVD in
Bennett’s property, asked Bennett if the DVD was his,
and Bennett admitted ownership of the DVD. He was charged
with violating Rule 406 (possession of contraband).
Defendants claim that the infraction notice was signed by
both Holland and Approving Supervisor Lieutenant William
was served with a notice of disciplinary hearing on October
1, 2014. ECF No. 13-3. On November 7, 2014, AHO Scott Rowe
found him guilty of violating Rule 406. ECF No. 13-4 at
Switalski Decl. No disciplinary segregation or loss of good
conduct time was imposed. He was sanctioned with 15
days’ cell restriction. Id. He was only
allowed to go to meals, work/school, commissary for hygiene
items only, showers, sick call, medical appointments, church
services (not studies), visits, classification hearings, and
interviews with counselors. ECF No. 13-5.
opposition, Bennett claims that timing of the issuance of the
notice of infraction violated the 72-hour rule and while on
cell restriction he was not permitted to attend the legal
reference library. ECF No. 15. He alleges that Holland and
Arndt conducted several cell searches and he was not present
when the examination of the cell took place. Bennett further
asserts that although the infraction states that he