United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
plaintiff Kenneth Sorensen filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
civil rights complaint, as amended and supplemented,
requesting damages and injunctive relief. Compl., ECF No. 1;
Am. Compl, ECF No. 9; Suppl. Compl. No. 1, ECF No. 21; Suppl.
Compl. No. 2, ECF No. 35; Suppl. Compl. No. 3, ECF No. 43;
Suppl. Compl. No. 4, ECF No. 52; Suppl. Compl. No. 5, ECF No.
55; Suppl. Compl. No. 6, ECF No. 64. Sorensen, who is an inmate
in the custody of the Maryland Division of Correction, claims
Defendants failed to protect him from harm during the time he
was incarcerated at Western Correctional Institution
("WCI") when, shortly after Sorensen informed on a
fellow inmate, the prison staff placed a prison-gang member
in Sorensen's cell and the inmate upon whom Sorensen
informed in the neighboring cell. Suppl. Compl. No. 2, at
22-24. Further, he claims Defendants unlawfully
retaliated against and harassed him; subjected him to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement; denied him
necessary medical and dental care; denied his request to
attend religious services; and denied him due process and
equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment during the
time he was incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution
("JCI"). Compl. 10-15, 18-19; Suppl. Compl. No. 2,
at 43, 51. Sorenson is presently housed on protective custody
at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI").
is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 57, which Sorensen has
opposed, ECF No. 62. Also pending is Sorensen's Motion
for a Preliminary Injunction. ECF No. 66. No hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For reasons stated
herein, Defendants' motion will be treated as a motion
for summary judgment, and will be granted in part and denied
in part without prejudice to renewal within twenty-eight
days. Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief
will be denied.
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through "particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . .,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, "
that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see also
Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th
Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). The
existence of only a "scintilla of evidence" is not
enough avoid summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Instead, the evidentiary
materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of
fact could reasonably find for the party opposing summary
judgment. Id. "In ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, this Court reviews the facts and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party." Downing v. Bait. City Bd. of Sch.
Comm'rs, No. RDB-12-1047, 2015 WL 1186430, at *1 (D.
Md. Mar. 13, 2015) (citing Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 378 (2007)).
has filed voluminous attachments including records, lengthy
handwritten statements and declarations, and other documents,
some of which are not relevant to matters at issue, in
support of his claim. Defendants have submitted declarations and
verified records with their dispositive motion. ECF Nos. 57-2
Court may consider a wider array of documents when it treats
a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, which
it may do pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). See Syncrude
Canada, Ltd. v. Highland Consulting Grp., Inc., 916
F.Supp.2d 620, 623 (D. Md. 2013). When the Court does so,
"[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). Notably, "the Federal
Rules do not prescribe that any particular notice be given
before a Rule 12 motion is converted to a Rule 56
motion." Ridgell v. Astrue, DKC-10-3280, 2012
WL 707008, at *7 (D. Md. Mar. 2, 2012). Thus, this
requirement "can be satisfied when a party is 'aware
that material outside the pleadings is before the
court.'" Walker v. Univ. of Md. Med. Sys.
Corp., No. CCB-12-3151, 2013 WL 2370442, at *3 (D. Md.
May 30, 2013) (quoting Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175,
177 (4th Cir. 1985)).. Though the Court "clearly has an
obligation to notify parties regarding any court-instituted
changes in the pending proceedings, [it] does not have an
obligation to notify parties of the obvious."
Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d
253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998). Here, Defendants designate their
motion as a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion
for summary judgment. Further, Sorensen was provided the
opportunity to dispute these exhibits and has done so.
See PL's Opp'n, ECF No. 62. For these
reasons, it is appropriate to treat Defendants' motion as
a motion for summary judgment, and I will consider the
exhibits attached to it.
of Administrative Remedies
have raised the affirmative defense of failure to exhaust
administrative remedies with regard to Sorensen's claims
pertaining to his incarceration at WCI and several of the
claims pertaining to his incarceration at JCI. On that basis,
they argue that the claims must be dismissed. Defs.' Mem.
8-10, ECF No. 57-1.
Prisoner Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") provides,
in pertinent part:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law,
by a prisoner confined in jail, prison, or other correctional
facility until such ...