United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants', Sgt. Treme
Stone, Lt. Pius Uwalor, Lt. Brandon Barnett, Officer Misbau
Raji, and Sgt. Iwill Mason (collectively,
“Defendants”), Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14) and
Plaintiff Michael Oakes's Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF
No. 39). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For
the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant in part and
deny in part Defendants' Motion and grant Oakes's
is a Maryland Division of Correction (“DOC”)
inmate currently incarcerated at Brockbridge Correctional
Facility. Defendants are corrections personnel employed by
the DOC who work at Jessup Correctional Institution
(“JCI”), Oakes' previous place of
incarceration. In exhibits attached to the Complaint, Oakes
alleges a use of force incident happened at 2:30 p.m. on
December 17, 2012, in B-Building, C-Wing. (Compl. at 4, ECF
No. 1-1). Oakes states Raji, without provocation,
threw him to the ground. (Id. at 4). Oakes pleads he
was taken to the medical department following this incident
because of the bruising, swelling, and bloody nose he
suffered. (Id. at 4-5). He alleges a second incident
occurred between 3 and 4:00 p.m. that same day, while he was
under escort from the medical department to a cell in lockup.
(Id. at 5). Oakes states an unknown officer grabbed
and twisted his wrists. (Id.). Barnett and Uwalor
then forced him to the ground and kicked him in the face,
back, head, and private area. (Id.). He alleges
Barnett then pulled up and threw him into a wall.
(Id. at 4-5). Oakes asserts this second incident was
videotaped by Stone and that he sustained a swollen face,
black eyes, scrapes, cuts and bruises, blood in his urine,
and partial loss of movement in his left wrist which
continued for several days. (Id.at 5-6, 9). Oakes
states generally that his personal property was damaged
during the second incident and that after he requested a copy
of the video, officers began “an intimidation
campaign” against him. (Id. at 44).
filed a complaint on June 20, 2014, raising 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claims for excessive use of force, failure to provide
medical care, and retaliation. (ECF No. 1). In addition to
unspecified money damages, Oakes asks that disciplinary
action be taken against Defendants. (Compl. at 3). He amended
his Complaint to provide Defendants' names on July 17,
2014. (ECF No. 5). The Court dismissed the Department of
Public Safety and the Inmate Grievance Office on August 7,
2015. (ECF No. 6).
November 5, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 14).
On November 24, 2014, Oakes filed a “Response to Motion
for Dismissal” opposing Defendants' Motion. (ECF
No. 16). On March 25, 2015, this Court denied Defendants'
Motion without prejudice and ordered counsel to file copies
of Vicon Net video recordings purportedly showing the
interaction between Barnett, Raji, and Oakes outside the day
room on the tier, as well as the interaction between Oakes
and several officers outside the medical department. (ECF No.
21). This supplemental material was filed on April 24, 2015.
(ECF No. 24). Oakes was provided the opportunity to review
the recordings. (Burton Decl. Ex. 1 at ¶¶ 2-4, ECF
No. 24-1; Richardson Decl. Ex. 2 at ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No.
24-2). Oakes filed a Supplemental Opposition Response (ECF
No. 25), and Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 28).
5, 2015, the Clerk received a Motion for Voluntary Dismissal
(ECF No. 29), which Defendants did not oppose. (ECF No. 30).
Oakes' Motion did not contain his Inmate Identification
Number and the signature on the Motion did not match his
signature on previous pleadings. (Staff Note of June 8,
2015). The Court then directed Oakes to clarify whether the
Motion for Voluntary Dismissal was, in fact, filed by him or
on his behalf. (ECF No. 31). Oakes indicated he did not file
the Motion (ECF No. 32), and on October 6, 2015, the Motion
was denied. (ECF No. 34). On May 4, 2016, Oakes notified the
Clerk that he was no longer housed at JCI. (ECF No. 38).
Standard of Review
case, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 22). A motion
styled as a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment implicates the Court's discretion under
Rule 12(d). See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v.
Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011),
aff'd sub nom. Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't,
Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012).
In the Court's discretion, it will not convert
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss into a Motion for Summary
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 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)) (internal
quotation marks omitted), aff'd sub nom.,
Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 F.App'x 165 (4th
pleadings, however, are liberally construed and held to a
less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d
720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the court must construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a
whole, and take the facts asserted therein as true. See
Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d
776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Oakes attaches several exhibits to his Complaint; indeed, all
of his allegations are found in his exhibits. At the 12(b)(6)
stage, the court may consider the documents attached to the
complaint. Abadian v. Lee, 117 F.Supp.2d 481, 485
(D.Md. 2000); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). When the
“bare allegations of the complaint” conflict with
any exhibits, however, whether attached or adopted by
reference, the exhibits prevail. RaceRedi Motorsports,
LLC v. Dart Mach., Ltd., 640 F.Supp.2d 660, 664
(D.Md. 2009) (citing Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial
Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1465 (4th Cir. 1991).
the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, a
state, its agencies and departments are immune from suits in
federal court brought by its citizens or the citizens of
another state, unless it consents. See Pennhurst State
School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100
(1984). While the State of Maryland has waived its sovereign
immunity for certain types of cases brought in state courts,
see Md. State Gov't Code Ann., § 12-202(a),
it has not waived its immunity under the Eleventh Amendment
to suit in federal court. To the extent that Oakes seeks
damages from Defendants in their official capacities,
Defendants correctly state that they are immune from such
damages. See Fed. Mar. Comm'n v. S.C. State Ports
Auth., 535 U.S. 743, 760 (2002); Brandon v.
Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-72 (1985).
argue that Oakes' claim against Defendant Raji and his
claims concerning denial of medical care should be dismissed
because none of these claims was fully exhausted through the
administrative process. “Motions to dismiss for failure
to exhaust administrative remedies are governed by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction.” Khoury v. Meserve, 268
F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D.Md. 2003). Accordingly, Defendants'
Motion will be treated as a motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction for the purpose of their
exhaustion argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1);
Jones v. Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th
Cir. 2009) (explaining ...