United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Lieutenant T.
Sawyers’s Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 9) and
Defendants’, Colin Ottey, M.D., Krista Swan, R.N.,
Jennifer Bradfield, R.N., and Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
(collectively, the “Medical Defendants”), Motion
to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 21). The Motions are ripe for disposition.
Having reviewed the Motions and supporting documents, the
Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, the Court
will grant the Motions.
Nathaniel Lekai Hart was an inmate incarcerated at North
Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in
Cumberland, Maryland. He claims that, in January of 2015, the
NBCI staff refused to give him a monthly commissary welfare
bag for indigent inmates. The bag contains hygiene items such
as toothpaste and soap. During the month of December 2014, he
had less than four dollars in his prison account and could
not afford to purchase these items. Hart asserts without
these items, he was unable to wash himself appropriately. On
January 27, 2015, Hart filed an administrative remedy
procedure request (“ARP”) raising this issue.
Hart alleges that he has suffered from lower back pain since
April 2013, but during 2014, he was denied adequate medical
treatment. He alleges medical staff waited many months before
ordering an x-ray to assess the problem, and he suffered
“insurmountable pain.” (ECF No. 4). He claims
medical providers ignored the many sick call requests he
submitted concerning his back pain throughout the year.
13, 2015, Hart initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (2012), alleging Defendants violated his rights
under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
(ECF No. 1). On December 7, 2015, Sawyer filed his Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF No. 9). On December 30, 2015, Hart filed a Response to
the Motion. (ECF No. 13). On April 7, 2016, the Medical
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 21). Hart filed a
Response to the Motion on April 18, 2016 (ECF No. 23), and
the Medical Defendants filed a Reply on April 25, 2016 (ECF
Standard of Review
complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), or does not state “a plausible claim for
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 556 (2007)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 678
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Though the
plaintiff is not required to forecast evidence to prove the
elements of the claim, the complaint must allege sufficient
facts to establish each element. Goss v. Bank of
Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d 445, 449 (D.Md. 2013)
(quoting Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th
Cir. 2012)), aff’d sub nom. Goss v. Bank of Am.,
NA, 546 F.App’x 165 (4th Cir. 2013).
pleadings, however, are liberally construed and held to a
less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
accord Brown v. N.C. Dep’t of Corr., 612 F.3d
720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the court must construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a
whole, and take the facts asserted therein as true. 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)).
matters outside the pleading are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the [12(b)(6)] motion shall be treated
as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in
Rule 56.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports
Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d)). Under Rule 56(a), the Court must grant
summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw
all justifiable inferences in the non-moving party’s
favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress &
Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Once a motion for
summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing
party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute
exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). “[T]he mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.
“material fact” is one that might affect the
outcome of a party’s case. Id. at 248; see JKC
Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465
(4th Cir. 2001) (citing Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249
F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001)). Whether a fact is considered
to be “material” is determined by the substantive
law, and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord
Hooven-Lewis, 249 F.3d at 265.
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. Balt.
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir.
2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
The court should “view the evidence in the light most
favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in
[his] 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