United States District Court, D. Maryland
JEAN B. GERMAIN Plaintiff
SCOTT S.OAKLEY and ROBIN WOOLFORD Defendants
FREDERICK MOTZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
response to defendant Robin Woolford's motion to dismiss
or for summary judgment, plaintiff filed a motion for
continuance accompanied by an affidavit pursuant to Fed. R.
Civ. Proc. 56(d) seeking discovery. ECF 20 and ECF 20-2.
motion for continuance plaintiff states that justice would be
served and judicial resources saved if he is allowed to
pursue his claims against both defendants at the same time,
noting that defendant Scott Oakley was not served with the
complaint. ECF 20 at p. 2. He states that his Rule 56(d)
affidavit further supports his motion to delay "summary
judgment proceedings" in this case. Id.
Rule 56(d) affidavit states that plaintiff requires discovery
to fashion his opposition response to Woolford's
dispositive motion. He prefaces the affidavit with the
statement that he "has a multitude of evidence to refute
the false assertions made by defendant Woolford but for the
time being [he] will use the evidence submitted by the
defendant." ECF 20-2 at p. 3. Plaintiff seeks to engage
in discovery to "adduce evidence ... to prove that
defendant Woolford's sole intent was to obstruct
plaintiffs ability to receive a remedy" in the context
of plaintiffs claim that Woolford improperly required
plaintiff to provide evidence of an injury from water that
was allegedly too hot in the prison's shower.
Id. at p. 6. Plaintiff complains that Woolford never
explained why medical evidence of an injury was
needed for the preliminary review of his grievance.
Id. at p. 5.
also seeks to engage in discovery to establish that Woolford
did not provide the court with the entire content of his
Inmate Grievance Office (IGO) file. Id. at pp. 8-9. He
claims he requires the entire file to establish that he
complied with Woolford's request to provide a
"property inventory or confiscation form and commissary
form or other order form and any receipt" in support of
his grievance that his property was improperly confiscated
when he was placed on disciplinary segregation. Id.
at p. 8.
seeks to discover evidence that Woolford's motive in
requiring him to provide documentation that he was required
to send certain items by certified mail, and subsequently
ignoring the documentation plaintiff provided, was to deprive
him of the opportunity to litigate that issue in the courts.
Id. at pp. 12 - 14. Plaintiff states that he was
attempting to serve defendants in a state court case, which
required him to use certified mail. Id. His claim is
that he was not permitted by prison officials to send the
items by certified mail either at his expense or at the
institution's expense. Id. Plaintiff adds that
he must be allowed to depose Woolford to "show his evil
motives" and to "adduce evidence from the
defendants to prove that they were acting in a concerted
effort or agreement between them to deny plaintiff access to
the state courts." Id. at pp. 18 and 19-20.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) provides that:
If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for
specified reasons, it cannot present facts to justify its
opposition, the court may:
(1) Defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) Allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to
take discovery; or
(3) Issue any other appropriate order.
summary judgment is inappropriate "where the parties
have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery."
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. v. Kolon Industries,
Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448-49 (4th Cir. 2011). However,
"the party opposing summary judgment 'cannot
complain that summary judgment was granted without discovery
unless that party has made an attempt to oppose the motion on
the grounds that more time was needed for
discovery.'" Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet
Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80
F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)). To raise adequately the issue
that discovery is needed, the non-movant typically must file
an affidavit or declaration pursuant to Rule 56(d) (formerly
Rule 56(f)), explaining why, "for specified reasons, it
cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition,
" without needed discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see
Harrods, 302 F.3d at 244-45 (discussing affidavit
requirement of former Rule 56(f))
'"Rule 56(d) affidavits cannot simply demand
discovery for the sake of discovery.'" Hamilton
v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 807 F.Supp.2d
331, 342 (D. Md. 2011) (quoting Young v. UPS, No.
DKC-08-2586, 2011 WL 665321, at *20, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
14266, at *62 (D. Md. Feb. 14, 2011)). "Rather, to
justify a denial of summary judgment on the grounds that
additional discovery is necessary, the facts identified in a
Rule 56 affidavit must be 'essential to [the]
opposition.'" Scott v. Nuvell Fin. Servs.,
LLC, 789 F.Supp.2d 637, 641 (D. Md. 2011) (alteration in
original) (citation omitted). A non-moving party's Rule
56(d) request for additional discovery is properly denied
"where the additional evidence sought for discovery
would not have by itself created a genuine issue of material
fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment." Strag
v. Bd. of Trs., Craven Cmty. Coll., 55 F.3d 943, 954
(4th Cir. 1995); see Amirmokri v. Abraham, 437
F.Supp.2d 414, 420 (D. Md. 2006), aff'd, 266
F.App'x. 274 (4th Cir. 2008).
claims asserted by plaintiff in his complaint are that
defendants have denied him access to the courts through their
actions. "Ultimately, a prisoner wishing to establish an
unconstitutional burden on his right of access to the courts
must show 'actual injury' to 'the capability of
bringing contemplated challenges to sentences or conditions
of confinement before the courts.'" O'Dell
v. Netherland,112 F.3d 773, 776 (4th Cir. 1997),
quoting Lewis v. Casey,518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996).
"The requirement that an inmate alleging a violation of
Bounds must show actual injury derives ultimately
from the doctrine of standing, a constitutional principle
that prevents courts of law from undertaking tasks assigned
to the political branches." Lewis, 518 U.S. at