United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
JAMES E. HOUCK, #421-024 Plaintiff,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al.. Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Houck is currently incarcerated at the Western Correctional
Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. He is suing Defendants
Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Robustiano J. Barrera, M.D.,
Psychiatric Services at WCI, and Psychiatric Services at JCI,
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly providing him with
inadequate medical care." ECF No. 1; ECF No. 7. Wexford Health Sources,
Inc. and Dr. Barrera (hereinafter the "Medical
Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment with declarations
and verified exhibits, including Houck's medical records.
ECF No. 31. As the contents of these medical records are of a
sensitive and confidential nature, Defendants' Motion to
Seal the exhibits. ECF No. 32. will be granted. Houck filed
an opposition to Defendants* Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment and three Cross
Motions for Summary Judgment,  the first of which he
supplemented. ECF Nos. 35, 37, 42, 50, and 51. Defendants
filed an opposition to Houck's first Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 35. Also pending is Houck"s
self-styled, "Motion to Order the Medical Department or
Mental Health Services to Treat Mr.
Houck." ECF No. 43.
considering the pleadings and exhibits, the Court concludes a
hearing is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For reasons to follow, the Medical Defendants"
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF No. 31, treated as a Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED. The Medical Defendants* Motion to Seal,
ECF No. 32, is GRANTED. Plaintiffs Cross Motions for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 37. 50. and 51 are DENIED. Plaintiffs
''Motion to Order the Medical Department or Mental
Health Services to Treat Mr. Houck, " ECF No. 43, will
be DENIED without prejudice.
Court will grant Houck twenty-eight days to provide
additional information to obtain service on the individuals
who prescribed the medication Risperdal, which he alleges has
caused negative side effects. Failure to provide the
supplemental information as directed herein will result in
dismissal of this case.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this case.
ECF No. 11. As such, this Court is required under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2) to review the complaint and
dismiss any claim that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. To bring a § 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must (1) allege a violation of a constitutional
right or federal law and (2) show that "'the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law." Crosby v. City o/Gastonia, 635 F.3d
634, 639 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).
under § 1983 are directed at "'persons, "
and Houck provides no evidence that Psychiatric Services at
JCI and Psychiatric Services at WCI are "persons"
or independent entities amenable to suit under § 1983.
See Harden v. Green. 27 F.App'x. 173. 178 (4th
Cir. 2001) (citing Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d 991,
992 (3d Cir. 1973) (New Jersey Prison Medical Department not
a person for § 1983 suit purposes)). However, where a
self-represented litigant alleges a cause of action which may
be meritorious against persons unknown, the district court
should afford him a reasonable opportunity to determine the
correct person or persons against whom the claim is asserted,
advise him how to proceed, and direct or permit amendment of
the pleadings to bring that person or persons before the
court. Harden. 27 F. App"x. at 178 (citing
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1152-53 (4th Cir.
1978): Coleman v. Peyton, 340 F.2d 603, 604 (4th
Cir. 1965)). Accordingly, Houck will be granted additional
time to provide the names of the individuals who prescribed
Risperdal for him, whether he brought his concerns about the
side effects he alleges to their attention, the dates and
circumstances of the notification, and the response he
received. Houck is reminded that failure to provide this
information within the requisite time period may result in
dismissal of this claim without prejudice and without further
notice from the Court.
Medical Defendants' Motion is styled as a Motion to
Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative,
for Summary Judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Ordinarily, a
court "'is not to consider matters outside the
pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion
to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d
442. 450 (4th Cir. 2007). If the court does so.
""the motion must be treated as one for summary j
udgment under Rule 56, "' and "[a]U parties
must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the
material that is pertinent to the motion.''
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the movant expressly captions its
motion "in the alternative" as one for summary
judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the
court's consideration, however, the parties are deemed to
be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the
court "does not have an obligation to notify parties of
the obvious." Laughlin v. Metro. Washington Airports
Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).
district judge has "complete discretion to determine
whether or not to accept the submission of any material
beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the
motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it." 5C
CHARLES A. WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MiLLER. FEDERAL PRACTICE
AND Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.).
This discretion ''should be exercised with great
caution and attention to the parties' procedural
rights." Id. at 149. In general, courts are
guided by whether consideration of extraneous material
"is likely to facilitate the disposition of the action,
" and "whether discovery prior to the utilization
of the summary judgment procedure" is necessary.
Id. at 165, 167.
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 Indust.,
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 there is a genuine
issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The
Court should "view the evidence in the light most
favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in
[his] favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the
witnesses" credibility." Dennis v. Columbia
Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir.
2002). Because Houck is self-represented, his filings are
liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But the Court must also abide by its
"affirmative obligation ... to prevent factually
unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to
trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal
faults Defendants for failing to monitor his high blood
pressure on a daily basis. Additionally, he alleges he was
prescribed Risperdal which caused him gynecomastia
(enlargement of male breasts), nausea, fatigue, increased
appetite, constipation, abdominal discomfort, anxiety, and
Parkinson's disease. Houck asserts he complained of
these concerns to Dr. Barrera and requested to be taken off
the medication. ECF No. 8 at 2; ECF No. 14 at 1. Houck claims
that he will need breast reduction after he is released from
incarceration, and seeks $10 million to pay for his hospital