United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES A. HENSON, JR. Plaintiff
SGT JANET PUFFENBARGER, et al., Defendants
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Sgt. Janet Puffenbarger,
C.O. II Timothy Marchinke, C.O. II Dean Rounds, Jr., and C.O.
II Cody Gilpin. ECF 21. Plaintiff has responded. ECF 23 &
Upon review of the papers filed, the Court finds a hearing in
this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, the dispositive
motion will be construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment and
will be GRANTED.
case was instituted upon receipt of a civil rights Complaint
filed by Plaintiff James Henson, an inmate currently confined
at the North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”). ECF 1. Plaintiff states that on an
unspecified date in August of 2015, Puffenbarger, Marchinke
and Rounds verbally threatened him, using racial epithets. He
also claims that on September 15, 2015, Puffenbarger ordered
Rounds and Gilpin to handcuff Plaintiff behind his back and
then ordered Rounds to put Plaintiff in a chokehold. He
states Gilpin then lifted him off the ground, pushing his
handcuffed wrists upward and behind his back. Thereafter,
Puffenbarger, Rounds, and Gilpin maced Plaintiff and beat
him. Plaintiff states that he lost consciousness and was
revived with “smelling salt.” Puffenbarger
ordered Rounds and Gilpin to carry Plaintiff back to the tier
because he was in out and of consciousness. He states that he
defecated on himself and could not stand or walk as a result
of the assault. ECF 1, p. 3.
states that he filed an Administrative Remedy Request (ARP),
NBCI-1667-15 requesting to have the Defendants prosecuted for
threatening him and for the assault. ECF 1 & 16.
Plaintiff states contradictorily that he did not receive a
response from the Warden (ECF 1) and that his appeal of the
Warden's denial of his ARP was “blatantly destroyed
by Housing Unit #1 guards to further impede [his] legal
endeavor.” ECF 16, p. 2. He claims he was prevented
from exhausting his administrative remedies and also claims
he did not receive a response from the Commissioner of
Amended Complaint (ECF 15) and Second Amended Complaint. (ECF
16) contain litanies of Plaintiff's numerous complaints
concerning the entirety of his incarceration.The amendments
also refer to events occurring after the specific events
complained of in the instant complaint and will not be
considered here. Additionally, the amendments refer to
numerous previously filed cases to support his allegations of
regular and continuous problems with prison staff. Those
complaints, previously litigated, will not be considered
request for relief, Plaintiff seeks a temporary restraining
order, liens on Defendants' paychecks, removal of
Defendants from the institution, criminal prosecution of the
Defendants, that Defendants be placed on unpaid leave pending
the outcome of a criminal trial against them, termination of
Defendants' employment, physical therapy, a federal
investigation, protective custody, an Interstate Corrections
Compact transfer, compensatory and punitive damages. ECF 1,
15, & 16.
deny Plaintiff's allegations, averring that they neither
harassed him in August of 2015, nor used any force against
him on September 15, 2016. Specifically, CO II Marchinke and
CO II Dean Rounds, Jr., aver that they never threatened,
harassed, or intimidated plaintiff. ECF 21-3, ¶ 4; ECF
21-4, ¶ 4. Rounds further avers that he did not choke,
beat, use mace or in any way assault Plaintiff on September
15, 2015, nor did he see anyone else do so. ECF 21-4,
¶¶ 5 & 6. Puffenbarger denies ordering any
staff to go to Plaintiff's cell and threaten him. ECF
21-5, ¶ 4. She further avers that she did not threaten
Plaintiff nor did anyone else in her presence threaten
Plaintiff in August 2015. Id. She also denies
assaulting Plaintiff on September 15, 2015, as alleged and
denies ever ordering or directing any staff to assault
Plaintiff. Id., ¶¶ 5 & 6. Gilpin also
denies assaulting Plaintiff or being directed by Puffenbarger
to assault Plaintiff. ECF 21-6, ¶ 4.
Durst, Correctional Case Specialist II, Inmate Grievance
Office Coordinator, avers that he reviewed electronic and
base file records and there are no entries or any documented
incidents regarding Plaintiff occurring in August 2015 or on
September 15, 2015. ECF 21-7, ¶ 6; see also ECF
21-8, NBCI Daily Events Log for September 15, 2015.
Allegations of assaults involving inmates and staff are
investigated by the Internal Investigative Division
(“IID”). IID reviewed call logs, case history,
Plaintiff's prior case history, and Barrack Index Cards,
and found no record of the alleged incident. ECF 21-10.
medical records likewise fail to support his claim. On
September 14, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a sick call request
indicating he was on a hunger strike. A notation was made
that custody staff reported Plaintiff had refused all three
meals on that date. ECF 21-9, p. 4. Heather Ritchie, R.N.
went to see Plaintiff in the medical area of H.U. #1 on
September 15, 2015. Id., p. 3. Plaintiff was alert
and laying on the examination table but was not talking. His
vital signs were stable. No open areas or injuries were
observed. Ritchie noted that Plaintiff was not cooperating
with staff and was subsequently escorted back to his cell. A
chart update entered that same date indicated that Plaintiff
was accepting meal trays. Id., p. 2.
filed ARP NBCI #1667-15, alleging that on August 7, 2015,
Marchinke and Round came to his cell and Marchinke stated:
“One of these days, I'm going to break your fucking
neck nigger” and Officer Rounds kicked the cell door
five times and said, “Come cuff up motherfucker.”
ECF 21-12. The ARP was investigated and dismissed on August
18, 2015, as without merit. As part of the ARP investigation,
Marchinke and Rounds submitted reports denying they used
inappropriate language and threatened Plaintiff. Id.
Plaintiff filed another ARP in August of 2015, complaining
that the water was turned off in his cell on August 21, 2015.
ECF 21-11, p. 8. He filed no ARPs in September or October of
Motion to Dismiss
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's
complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178
F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). The dismissal for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted does not
require defendant to establish ''beyond
doubt'' that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.
See Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561 (2007). Once a claim has
been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any
set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint. Id. at 563. The court need not, however,
accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v.
Charles County Comm'rs,882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.
1989), legal conclusions couched as ...