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Murphy v. Warden

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 27, 2016

TERRANCE MURPHY, #358-650, Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Deborah K. Chasanow United States District Judge

         The above-captioned case was opened after the court received correspondence from Terrance Murphy, an inmate at North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”), alleging that his life was in danger. ECF No. 1. The court directed Murphy to supplement the complaint with the names of individuals who allegedly were threatening him, the dates and facts of incidents when his safety was imperiled; and his efforts to inform prison officials. Murphy subsequently filed a supplement on court provided forms for filing a civil rights complaint. ECF No. 2. As relief, Murphy seeks damages and transfer to another correctional institution.

         The court deemed Murphy's allegations of imminent danger sufficiently serious to require an expedited response. On November 4, 2015, counsel with the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland filed a response opposing preliminary injunctive relief supported by verified exhibits, including declarations and medical and institutional records. ECF No. 7-1, 7-2.

         The court notified Murphy of its intention to construe the response as a motion for summary judgment and granted him time to respond. ECF No. 8. Murphy filed a response on November 30, 2015. ECF No. 9.

         The case is ready for disposition. After considering the papers, exhibits, and applicable law, the court concludes a hearing unnecessary to resolve the issues. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For reasons stated below, preliminary injunctive relief will be denied and summary judgment will be granted in favor of Defendant.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Murphy's Claims

         Murphy states that he has served six years of a ten year sentence and is housed at NBCI with dangerous inmates who are serving life sentences. Murphy alleges that inmates serving life sentences have no concern about losing good time credits and therefore might kill him at any time. ECF No. 1. Murphy claims that he should be placed in a single cell because he is soon to be released, [1] and has bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). ECF Nos. 1, 3.

         Murphy states that he advised the prison psychology department about his housing concerns for fear he will be placed on disciplinary segregation for either hurting someone or someone hurting him. His request for assistance was denied. ECF Nos. 1, 3. Murphy also wrote to the Inmate Grievance Office and the Warden, but received no response. He states that his administrative remedy procedure requests (“ARP”) were dismissed. ECF No. 3.

         Although directed to provide the names of individuals who allegedly have threatened him and the dates of these incidents, Murphy has not done so. Further, Murphy does not explain how his mental health conditions warrant his placement in single inmate housing.

         B. Response

         Murphy's claims of danger and need for single cell housing were investigated by Randy Durst, a correctional case manager at NBCI. ECF No. 7-1, decl. of Randy Durst. Durst attests that on October 16, 2015, he contacted Anita Rozas, the social work site supervisor, to see if she had any insight into Murphy's alleged need for single cell placement due to bi-polar disorder and PTSD. Durst received a response from Melissa Harr, a social worker, who indicated that she had corresponded with Murphy concerning release planning. Harris stated that Murphy never mentioned his need for a single cell due to bi-polar disorder, PTSD, or in light of his release date. Id. ¶ 5.

         Durst also attests that Murphy's ARP request index contains one ARP alleging that his life was in danger. In NBCI-ARP-1704-15, filed on August 21, 2015, Murphy alleged that his life was in danger because his cellmate was bleeding profusely and he was acting as his caregiver. Id. ¶ 6; ECF No. 7-1. Murphy withdrew that ARP on August 20, 2015. Id. Murphy did not claim in that ARP request that he needed single cell placement. Id. ¶7.

         As part of his investigation, Durst requested and reviewed Murphy's records from the psychology department. The records indicate that Murphy's conditions are managed with medication. ECF No. 7-1. The October 6, 2015 record noted that Murphy denied having depressive feelings and exhibited no signs of mania or psychosis. The October 8, 2015 note reads that Murphy “is doing well and goal directed.” Id. ΒΆ 8. Durst states that there was no indication that Murphy had expressed a need for a single cell or that psychology staff deemed a ...


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