United States District Court, D. Maryland
SEBASTIAN M. McMILLIAN, Plaintiff,
BRANDON CAPLE, et al., Defendants.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, United States District Judge.
is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Brandon Caple, Lieutenant Michael
Oates, Captain Joseph Cutter, Former Chief of Security Keith
Arnold, and Former Warden Bobby Shearin. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff
has responded. ECF No. 11. Upon review of the papers and
exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this
matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2014). For the reasons stated below, the dispositive motion
will be granted.
case was instituted upon receipt of a civil rights complaint
filed by Plaintiff Sebastian McMillian, a state inmate
confined at the North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”). ECF No. 1. Plaintiff claimed that in
2011 he purchased finger nail clippers from the prison
commissary at NBCI. Id., ¶ 10. In June of 2012,
Chief of Security Arnold banned NBCI inmates from purchasing
or possessing finger nail clippers. Id., ¶ 11.
On November 1, 2012, Plaintiff’s cell was searched by
Caple who discovered nail clippers concealed in the battery
compartment of Plaintiff’s CD player. Id.,
¶ 12. As a result, Plaintiff was placed on disciplinary
segregation, and his nail clippers, CD player, and other
personal property were confiscated. Id.,
states that Caple fabricated a disciplinary report charging
him with possession, use, and manufacturing of a weapon, in
retaliation for Plaintiff’s having failed to relinquish
the nail clippers as directed in Arnold’s memo.
Id., ¶ 15. Oates and Cutter, reviewed
Caple’s report, and recommended approving Caple’s
charges, including the confiscation of Plaintiff’s
property. Id., ¶¶ 16-18.
disciplinary hearing was held on November 15, 2012, before
Hearing Officer Mack, after which Plaintiff was found guilty
of the charges. Id., ¶ 19. Plaintiff maintains
that Mack knew the evidence was insufficient and retaliatory
and that he “maliciously based his finding of facts on
both insufficient evidence and fabricated reports.”
Id., ¶ 21. Plaintiff was sentenced to 180 days
disciplinary segregation and indefinite loss of visitation
Id., ¶ 22. Former Warden Shearin approved the
result of the disciplinary hearing. Id., ¶ 23.
alleges that Shearin, as the Warden at NBCI, was charged with
overseeing and reviewing all disciplinary proceedings.
Id., ¶ 5. Shearin was also responsible for
overseeing all prison operations and “was present when
Arnold disseminated the memo declaring finger nail clipper as
contraband” (id., ¶ 26) giving tacit
support to Arnold and the memo. Id., ¶ 27.
Plaintiff alleges that neither Shearin nor Arnold had
authority under DOC regulations to ban finger nail clippers.
Id. ¶ 28. He further alleges that Shearin gave
tacit support to Caple, Oates and Cutter to fabricate and
approve the filing of false charges against him regarding the
nail clippers. Id., ¶ 29.
result of the disciplinary proceedings, Plaintiff states that
he lost earned good time credit, was deprived of his job,
back pay, and ability to earn good conduct credits. He also
maintains that the deprivation of his nail clippers limited
his ability to maintain proper hygiene resulting in an
infection to his toe nails. He also alleges he was deprived
of the opportunity to retain a job and reduce his security
level. Id., ¶¶ 34-38.
agree that on June 29, 2012, NBCI Chief of Security Arnold
issued a memorandum advising that fingernail clippers had
been used to manufacture weapons and that any inmate who
possessed fingernail clippers must relinquish them by July
13, 2012; thereafter the clippers would be considered
contraband and inmates in possession of clippers would be
served with an inmate rule violation. ECF No. 9-4, p. 34.
November 1, 2012, Caple searched Plaintiff’s cell and
discovered fingernail clippers concealed in the battery
compartment of a Sony CD Player which Plaintiff claimed he
owned. ECF No. 9-5, p. 18. That same day Plaintiff was
charged with violating inmate rules 105 (possession of a
weapon or any article modified into a weapon; the
unauthorized possession of any implement, article, or tool
that reasonably could be modified into or used as a weapon)
and 406 (possessing, passing, or receiving contraband).
appeared before Hearing Officer Stephen Mack on November 21,
2012. After the hearing, where Plaintiff plead guilty to
violation of rule 406, he was found guilty of violating both
inmate rules and sanctioned to 180 days of disciplinary
segregation and indefinite loss of visitation. Id.,
pp. 23-24. In finding Plaintiff guilty of violating rule 105,
Mack noted the June 28, 2012 memorandum designating that nail
clippers must be turned in or else would be treated as
contraband and also cited “COMAR 12.02.27.04 H which
provides “The term weapon under subsection B(6)-(2) An
unauthorized material, substance, article, instrument, or
tool that may be manufactured into or used as weapon
regardless of it being used for a purpose other than as a
weapon or whether its original character has been
altered.” Id., p. 24. No good conduct credits
were revoked. Id., 25. The Reduction in Violence
Committee reviewed the sanction, affirming same with the
addition of 60 days loss of appliances after
Plaintiff’s segregation sentence expired. Warden Bobby
Shearin affirmed the decisions of the Hearing Officer and RIV
Committee. Id., p. 1, 14.
16, 2013, Plaintiff filed Administrative Remedy Procedure
(ARP) NBCI 1897-13 complaining that his conviction should be
vacated. ECF No. 9-7, pp. 5-6; see also ECF No. 11,
¶17. The ARP was dismissed on July 17, 2013, on
procedural grounds: that inmates may not seek relief
regarding disciplinary decision through the ARP process and
because it was not received within the established timeframe.
Id., p. 5. Plaintiff’s appeal was also
dismissed on the procedural basis that inmates may not seek
relief through the administrative remedy process as to the
results of disciplinary proceedings. Id., p. 1.
filed a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office, on
October 11, 2012, (IGO No. 20122128) as an appeal of
ARP-NBCI-1132-12 wherein Plaintiff complained he had been
confined on disciplinary segregation for 7 days beyond his
sanction. ECF No. 9-8, ¶3(a). The grievance was
administratively dismissed by the IGO on December 6, 2012 as
filed IGO No. 20130035 on January 9, 2013, as a grievance
appeal of the guilty finding entered at the November 15, 2012
disciplinary proceeding. Id., ¶3(b). The IGO
dismissed the appeal on March 13, 2013, due to
Plaintiff’s failure to respond to a letter from the IGO
requesting Plaintiff provide supporting documents and