United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge
pending and ready for resolution in this civil rights case is
a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment filed by Defendants Bobby P. Shearin, Frank B.
Bishop, Jr., and Paul Pennington (collectively, the
“Defendants”). (ECF No. 25). The issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, Defendants’ motion to dismiss will be granted.
otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are construed in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff Thomas Jones
(“Plaintiff”), the nonmoving party. Plaintiff was
incarcerated at the North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. Specifically,
Plaintiff was housed in the D-wing housing unit #2. Plaintiff
alleges that in early February 2012, Defendants collectively
decided to move Plaintiff to the B-wing housing unit #2. (ECF
No. 1 ¶ 9). Plaintiff packed his belongings and met
Correctional Officer Connors in the B-Wing. According to
Plaintiff, Officer Connors “ordered him to move into
cell #19 on the top bunk.” (Id. ¶ 11).
Plaintiff requested the bottom bunk, explaining to Officer
Connors that “being placed on the top bunk would
place him in danger due to his serious medical condition.
Plaintiff simply ask[ed] permission to take the bottom bunk
to avoid being injured if he became ill from a
seizure.” (Id. ¶ 12). Plaintiff also
showed Officer Connors his I.D. card, which “clearly
indicated ‘seizure patient.’ This I.D. card was
produced and provided by [the Division of Correction].
[Officer] Connors examined the I.D. card but ignored
Plaintiff’s reasonable requests, and again ordered him
to take the top bunk.” (Id. ¶ 13). If
Plaintiff did not comply, she advised, he would be subject to
“disciplinary adjustment.” (Id. ¶
14). Plaintiff took the top bunk.
February 22, 2012, Plaintiff experienced a seizure while
sleeping and fell from the top bunk to the floor. He
sustained “several fractured bones in the areas of his
hip and face.” (Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff
underwent three surgeries and may require further treatment.
He alleges that, due to his fall, he has “suffered
severe physical pain, disfigurement, and emotional
pain.” (Id. ¶ 18). At the time of
Plaintiff’s injury, Defendant Shearin was the Warden of
NBCI. Defendant Bishop served as the Chief of Security, and
Defendant Pennington was the Manager of housing unit #2.
According to Plaintiff, Defendants were aware that he
suffered from seizures, especially while asleep.
(Id. ¶ 22).
represented by counsel, filed the complaint against
Defendants and Officer Connors on February 20, 2015. (ECF No.
1). Plaintiff asserts one claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
that Defendants violated his rights secured by the Eighth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. According to
Plaintiff, “despite having full knowledge of [his]
illness and/or disease, Defendants were deliberately
indifferent and disregarded the potential danger by failing
to take reasonable measures and not providing a cell that
would allow Plaintiff to sleep on a bottom bunk.”
(Id. ¶ 23). He seeks $200, 000.00 in
compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants moved to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on
February 19, 2016. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff responded in
opposition. (ECF No. 28).
Standard of Review
noted, Defendants styled their motion 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. Defendants have
attached inmate health records, an Administrative Remedy
Procedure (“ARP”) index report, and daily events
logs from February 22, 2012, and the two days thereafter.
(See ECF No. 25-2). Responding in opposition,
Plaintiff also attached extraneous materials, including
additional inmate health records, Plaintiff’s ARP
request and appeal to the Inmate Grievance Office
(“IGO”), and a record of a disciplinary hearing
at which Plaintiff was cleared of the charged violations.
(See ECF No. 28-2).
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). If the court does
consider matters outside the pleadings, “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); see also Finley
Lines Joint Protective Bd. Unit 200 v. Norfolk S. Corp.,
109 F.3d 993, 997 (4th Cir. 1997) (“[A] Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss supported by extraneous materials
cannot be regarded as one for summary judgment until the
district court acts to convert the motion by indicating that
it will not exclude from its consideration of the motion the
supporting extraneous materials.”). Plaintiff received
notice of potential consideration under the summary judgment
standard by virtue of the motion filed by Defendants. See
Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253,
261 (4th Cir. 1998); Warner v. Quilo, No.
ELH-12-248, 2012 WL 3065358, at *2 (D.Md. July 26, 2012)
(“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[.]”).
Here, however, because the claims against the moving
Defendants will be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), it is
generally not necessary to evaluate the summary judgment
motion. Defendants’ exhaustion argument will be
discussed below. See infra Part IV.
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule
8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Rule 8(a)(2)
still requires a ‘showing, ’ rather than a
blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007).
That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or
“naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (internal citations omitted). At this stage, all
well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as
true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994),
and all factual allegations must be construed in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v.
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783
(4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).
In evaluating the complaint, the court need not accept
unsupported legal allegations. Revene v. Charles Cnty.
Comm’rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.
1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are
insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are
conclusory factual allegations without any reference to
actual events. United Black Firefighters v. Hirst,
604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th
Plaintiff’s § 1983 Claim Against the Moving
argue that Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim is subject to
dismissal for failure to demonstrate a violation of the
Eighth Amendment, lack of supervisory liability, sovereign