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Duncan v. Horning

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 6, 2016



          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this prisoner civil rights case is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant David Wade. (ECF No. 56). The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff Jimmy Duncan ("Plaintiff"), a former inmate at the Maryland Correctional Training Center ("MCTC"), was severely attacked by another inmate on November 4, 2010. The assailant, Raynard Horne, obtained a large rock from a major excavation site on the MCTC compound, put the rock into a sock, and beat Plaintiff with it. (ECF No. 33 ¶¶ 11-13). Mr. Horne fractured Plaintiff's skull, resulting in the removal of a piece of his skull and bone fragments; Plaintiff continues to experience severe medical complications. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 24, 32; see ECF No. 74-5 ¶ 4(d)).

         The excavation site from which Mr. Horne obtained the rock was part of an ongoing construction project at MCTC that included the digging of trenches for an underground steam loop to provide heat to the facility. (ECF No. 33 ¶¶ 6-8; see ECF Nos. 74-1, at 4-6; 74-2 ¶ 2). Construction crews would unearth rocks but leave them unsecured and accessible to anyone using the walkway to the MCTC gymnasium, dining hall, medical department, and various housing units. According to Plaintiff, corrections officers guarded the construction site only during the daytime while workers were present. (ECF No. 33 ¶¶ 8-10). Otherwise, the site was left "utterly unsecured and not properly safeguarded, and, thus, accessible to inmates." (ECF No. 33 ¶ 9).

         Plaintiff alleges that, at the time of the attack, Defendant Kenneth Horning was the Warden of MCTC and Defendant Wade was the MCTC Chief of Security (collectively, the "Defendants"). The complaint recites that "Defendants were responsible for the operation of [] MCTC in a safe and proficient manner, with a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the inmates of that institution." (Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiff alleges that similar attacks had occurred previously, and that Defendants "had foreknowledge that the rocks left accessible to inmates at the subject construction site could be used to cause serious harm, had already caused harm, and continued to pose a serious threat to the inmates." (Id. ¶ 15).

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this action against Defendants on February 11, 2013, alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1). Defendants moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment (ECF No. 12), and the court denied the motion (ECF Nos. 17; 18). The court reasoned that there existed "a material factual dispute as to what actions were taken by Defendants to safeguard the MCTC site and whether they had constructive notice of safety issues associated with the debris from the site." (ECF No. 17, at 7).[2]

         The court appointed pro bono counsel for Plaintiff, who filed an amended complaint. (ECF No. 33). He asserts that Defendants deprived him of rights secured by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution by failing to provide reasonable protection at MCTC. (Id. ¶ 28). Defendants filed an answer and amended answer. (ECF Nos. 35; 55). Subsequently, Defendant Wade moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 56). The pending motion is fully briefed. (ECF Nos. 74; 77). Discovery is ongoing, and the court granted a consent motion to extend discovery until August 5, 2016. (ECF No. 84).

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment will be granted only if there exists no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th Cir. 2008). Summary judgment is inappropriate if any material factual issue "may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 250; JKC Holding Co. LLC v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001). In undertaking this inquiry, a court must view the facts and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)); see also EEOC v. Navy Fed. Credit Union, 424 F.3d 397, 405 (4th Cir. 2005).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. If the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof, then there is no genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. Therefore, on those issues on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an "affidavit or other evidentiary showing" demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Ross v. Early, 899 F.Supp.2d 415, 420 (D.Md. 2012), aff'd, 746 F.3d 546 (4th Cir. 2014). "A mere scintilla of proof . . . will not suffice to prevent summary judgment." Peters v. Jenney, 327 F.3d 307, 314 (4th Cir. 2003). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). In other words, a "party cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact through mere speculation or compilation of inferences." Shin v. Shalala, 166 F.Supp.2d 373, 375 (D.Md. 2001) (citation omitted); see Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003).

         III. ...

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