United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEVEN E. TARPLEY, Plaintiff,
STEPHEN T. MOYER, et al., Defendants.
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants', Frank B.
Bishop, Jr, Brian W. Custer, Cory A. Dolley, Wendell M.
France, Robert M. Friend, Zachery D. Gentzler, Walter E.
Iser, Jr., Richard S. Miller, Steven J. Miller, Jr, Stephen
T. Moyer, Carroll A. Parrish, Richard S. Roderick, Bobby P.
Shearin, Nicholas J. Soltas, Ronald R. Stottler, J. Michael
Stouffer, and Bradley A. Wilt, Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
and Plaintiff Steven Tarpley's Amended Motion under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) in response to
Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 27). 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 outlined
below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion and deny
Steven Tarpley is a prisoner confined to North Branch
Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) and claims that
he is “an inmate advocate/representative” who
provides assistance to any other inmates with administrative
or criminal proceedings. (Compl. at 6). He states that on
November 1, 2012, he was summoned to the Sergeant's
office in Housing Unit 3 where he met with Sgt. Brian Custer
and Sgt. Leah Youngblood and three unknown correctional
officers. Id. Custer was holding a copy of a notice
Tarpley had put up advising other inmates to contact the U.S.
Department of Justice with any serious complaints concerning
NBCI staff and offering assistance in doing so. Id.
Tarpley states that Custer and an unknown male officer
verbally threatened him for posting the notice. Id.
November 7, 2012, Tarpley states that Officer Jennifer
Robertson served a Notice of Infraction on him, but would not
allow Tarpley to read the report before signing for service.
(Compl. at 7). Tarpley explains he needed to read the report
to learn the facts and list any relevant witnesses or other
evidence he wanted to present at the disciplinary hearing at
the time of service. Id. Tarpley admits that
Robertson told him he was charged with refusing to lock in to
his cell after receiving morning medication. Id.
Tarpley learned, however, that the Notice of Infraction
alleged the incident occurred on the date he moved to the new
cell and that it was written by Sgt. Youngblood. (Compl. at
December 18, 2012, Tarpley alleges a falsified report was
written by Officer Dale Troutman charging Tarpley with
interfering with an officer in the performance of his duties,
inciting a riot or disturbance, and committing acts of
disrespect. Id. The report was based on an incident
where Tarpley refused to sit at a table with three gang
members. Id. Following a brief interview with
Troutman, Tarpley claims that Officer Daniel Robertson told
Troutman he had heard enough and handcuffed Tarpley.
Id. Robertson then escorted Tarpley to housing unit
one where he was left in a strip cage. Id. Tarpley
asserts his repeated requests to be taken to a holding cell
to use the toilet were ignored and that he defecated in the
strip cage. Id. He was then removed from the strip
cage at approximately 9:30 p.m., without being allowed to
wash the feces off of himself. Id.
December 24, 2012, Tarpley had a fight with his cellmate.
(Compl. at 9). He claims his cellmate, Vincent, was a newly
indoctrinated member of the Aryan Brotherhood who was angry
with Tarpley for refusing to join the group and continuing to
associate with people of color. Id. Following the
fight, Tarpley was taken to a contingency cell. Id.
He claims he was deprived of all his property except a
mattress which was provided the following morning.
Id. On March 4, 2013, Tarpley prevailed on a Motion
for Preliminary Injunction seeking an order from the Circuit
Court for Allegany County to enjoin Warden Shearin from
obstructing his access to the library. Id. On March
7, 2013, Tarpley and his cellmate were stopped by Defendants
Dolley and Gentzler as they were attempting to go to lunch.
(Compl. at 10). A cell search was performed on Tarpley's
cell and a razorblade was discovered. Id. Tarpley
was handcuffed and escorted to a different housing unit.
Id. Tarpley adds he was denied lunch. Id.
August 14, 2013, Tarpley claims that Defendant Nicholas J.
Soltas said, “You know all of your ARPs and lawsuits
really don't do anything. I just had to go and sign for
counsel again, what do you think it is, the squeaky wheel
gets the oil? Well I've got news for you, the squeaky
wheel gets bumped around a lot here.” (Compl. at 12).
Soltas then left claiming to resume checking Tarpley's
property, and upon return, he told Tarpley he had found a
note that contained a threat to another inmate. (Compl. at
12-13). Soltas informed Tarpley he was charging him with a
rule violation. (Compl. at 13). Soltas refused to return
Tarpley's property, even though he informed Soltas that
he had pleadings due in court by August 24, 2013, but Soltas
still refused. Id. Tarpley claims that in the days
to follow, staff repeatedly refused to return his property.
August 18, 2013, Tarpley states his cellmate, Richard Owens,
put his arm out of the slot in the cell door to prevent it
from being closed in an effort to bring a Sergeant to the
cell and inform him that the officers were unreasonably
refusing to return Tarpley's property. Id.
Tarpley claims the usual practice when this occurs is for
correctional officers to place a shield across the cell door
and to notify the unit manager. Id. Instead, Officer
Steven Miller sprayed both Owens and Tarpley with pepper
spray and charged both men with violation of “various
conduct rule[s].” Id. Tarpley states that
Owens was provided with a decontamination shower, but he was
September 19, 2013, Hearing Officer Jon Sandstrom dismissed
all charges concerning the alleged threatening note Soltas
found in Tarpley's property. (Compl. at 14). Despite
dismissal of the charges against Tarpley, he was not removed
from segregation status. Id. Instead, Tarpley was
served with a Notice of Assignment to administrative
segregation and “idle status” for more than four
months. Id. Tarpley claims that from August 2013
through March 2014, Defendants engaged in an arbitrary
practice of transferring him from one cell to another,
housing him with inmates who were members of prison gangs.
(Compl. at 14-15). Tarpley alleges this was purposefully done
in order to provoke him into either fighting the other inmate
or refusing a housing assignment, either of which would
result in administrative penalties. (Compl. at 15).
April 16, 2015, Tarpley initiated this action claiming
Defendants' conduct violate his rights under the Eighth
Amendment and Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments. (ECF No. 1). As relief, Tarpley seeks monetary
damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. (Compl.
at 21). On February 16, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF No. 22). On May 25, 2016, Tarpley filed an Opposition to
the Motion. (ECF No. 27).
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, 678
(2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. (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 ...