United States District Court, D. Maryland
SUPERSEDING MEMORANDUM OPINION
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
19, 2015, in a separate action, Donald Gary Rembold
(“Rembold”) filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2241
petition for habeas corpus relief, alleging he received
ineffective assistance of counsel throughout the pretrial
process of his criminal case and had been committed to a
mental hospital without due process. He sought release from
confinement. See ECF No. 1 in Rembold v.
Helsel (“Rembold I”), No.
PWG-15-1825 (D. Md.).
briefing in Rembold I showed that on April 7, 2014,
Rembold was arraigned in the Circuit Court for Harford County
on multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor and third
degree sex offense. On January 28, 2015, the circuit court
issued an order for the Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene (“DHMH”) to conduct an evaluation of
Rembold’s competency to stand trial. Dr. Kim Witczak, a
forensic evaluator for the DHMH, examined Rembold at the
Harford County Detention Center on January 30, 2015, and
opined that he did not have a factual and rational
understanding of the nature and object of the proceeding
against him, nor did he possess sufficient ability to consult
with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding. She further concluded that Rembold would
present a danger to himself or to others if released from
confinement. See ECF No. 7 in Rembold I.
February 6, 2015, the Circuit Court issued an order finding
Rembold incompetent to stand trial and, by reason of mental
disorder, a danger to himself or the person or property of
another. The order committed Rembold to the custody of the
DHMH until he becomes competent. The order requiring
Rembold’s commitment was based on the evaluation
performed by Dr. Witczak and required Rembold’s
immediate transportation to Spring Grove Hospital Center
(“SGHC”) or another facility designated by DHMH.
Rembold was admitted to SGHC on February 13, 2015.
to state law, the DHMH evaluates persons committed as not
competent to stand trial at least every six months.
See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 3-108(a).
Rembold was re-evaluated in July of 2015 by Dr. Lindsay D.
Holbein. Dr. Holbein concluded that Rembold was competent to
stand trial and did not suffer from any psychiatric illness.
Additionally, Dr. Holbein noted that Rembold’s
treatment team did not believe he had a psychiatric illness
and that no medications had been prescribed for Rembold
during his stay at the SGHC. Counsel for the DHMH
subsequently requested the Circuit Court hold a hearing by
August 28, 2015, pursuant to Crim. Proc. §
3-106(c)(1)(iii). On September 3, 2015, Rembold was found
competent to stand trial by the Circuit Court for Harford
County, released from SGHC, and remanded to the custody of
the Harford County Detention Center where he remains at this
September 14, 2015, this Court dismissed Rembold I
without prejudice, based on Rembold’s release from
SGHC. See ECF No. 7 in Rembold I.
20, 2016, Rembold filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil
rights action challenging his previous confinement at SGHC,
allegedly without properly being diagnosed as having a mental
health disorder, and seeking declaratory relief that he was
“unlawfully admitted” and damages for “202
days of ignominy.” Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. Because Rembold
challenged the constitutionality of his involuntary
commitment and sought declaratory relief, the action was
construed as a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for habeas
corpus relief, labeled as such in the electronic case filing
system, and reviewed as a habeas petition. See
24, 2016, I issued a Memorandum and Order dismissing the
petition without prejudice. ECF Nos. 3, 4. I noted that
pretrial federal habeas relief is available under § 2241
if the petitioner is in custody, has exhausted state court
remedies, and special circumstances exist that justify
intervention by the federal court. See Dickerson v.
Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224-26 (5th Cir. 1987). I found
that there were no special circumstances justifying this
Court’s intervention because Rembold is no longer
confined at the SGHC. June 24, 2016 Mem. 3.
not state explicitly that I was construing Rembold’s
pleading as a habeas petition, and I did not address the
pleading as a § 1983 complaint so as to place Rembold on
notice of its deficiencies. This Superseding Memorandum
Opinion now addresses the pleading as a hybrid § 1983
complaint for damages, incorporating by reference the
previous analysis of the pleading as a habeas petition and
dismissing the civil rights portion of the
has named “David Helsel, Superintendent, et al., Spring
Grove Hospital Center” as defendants, asserting that
they are liable under § 1983 because they received him
on an involuntary commitment order and housed him for over
200 days without ever diagnosing him as having a mental
disorder as required under Maryland law. He does not,
however, provide factual details explaining how any defendant
personally violated his constitutional rights.
Superintendent Helsel, “supervisory officials may be
held liable in certain circumstances for the constitutional
injuries inflicted by their subordinates.” See Shaw
v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing
Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368 (4th Cir. 1984)).
This “liability is not premised upon respondeat
superior but upon ‘a recognition that supervisory
indifference or tacit authorization of subordinates’
misconduct may be a causative factor in the constitutional
injuries they inflict on those committed to their
care.’” Id. (quoting Slakan,
737 F.2d at 372–73). “[L]iability ultimately is
determined ‘by pinpointing the persons in the
decisionmaking chain whose deliberate indifference permitted
the constitutional abuses to continue
unchecked.’” Id. (quoting
Slakan, 737 F.2d at 376).
state a claim for supervisory liability against Helsel under
§ 1983, Rembold must allege
(1) that the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge
that his subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed
“a pervasive and unreasonable risk” of
constitutional injury to citizens like the plaintiff; (2)
that the supervisor’s response to that knowledge was so
inadequate as to show “deliberate indifference to or
tacit authorization of the alleged offensive practices,
”; and (3) that there was an “affirmative causal
link” between the supervisor’s inaction and the
particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Shaw, 13 F.3d at 799 (citations omitted). Rembold
simply alleges that Helsel violated Maryland law “by
receiving the plaintiff as an involuntary admission”
when neither “[t]he defendant, nor any other physician,
ever diagnosed the plaintiff as having a mental disorder . .
. .” Compl. 3. Because he has not alleged that Helsel
knew or should have known that Plaintiff had not been