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Henson v. Sawyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 23, 2016

JAMES A. HENSON, JR. Plaintiff
v.
LIEUTENANT SAWYER, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending is a Motion to Dismiss FILED BY Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc.[1]ECF 26.[2] Also pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment FILED BY Defendant Lieutenant Sawyer. ECF 37. Plaintiff has responded. ECF 44.[3]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, Defendants' dispositive motions will be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         The 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").[4] ECF 1. Plaintiff named as Defendants Lieutenant Sawyer, Subordinates in Housing Unit #2, and Wexford Health, Inc. ECF 1, p. 1. He alleges that Defendants have violated his constitutional rights by denying him chronic care medical treatment for high blood pressure, pain medication for his lower back and right shoulder, and treatment for "possible diabetes" for which he has a family history. He states that unnamed Defendants "continue to use force" to put him in a cell with known violent criminals in order to cause him serious bodily harm, torture, and "unpleasantness."[5] He alleges this is done in retaliation for his having filed grievances and lawsuits against influential Maryland state officials. He alleges that the conduct complained of has occurred from September, 2015 throughout 2016. He also alleges that Defendants conspired so transmit false oral and written statements with the intent to deceive. Id.

         Plaintiffs Complaint contains no specific allegations as to Defendant Sawyer. In a subsequent filing, however, Plaintiff alleges that Sawyer would not process any of Plaintiffs complaints and failed to train and supervise his subordinates. ECF 5, p. 4. As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, protective custody, a federal investigation, and an Interstate Corrections Compact Transfer. ECF 1, p. 3.

         Defendants indicate that Plaintiff was transferred from Housing Unit 1 at NBCI to Housing Unit 2 on November 5, 2015. ECF 37-3, p. 2; ECF 37-4, ¶ 3. Plaintiff was housed on Housing Unit 2, in a single cell, from November 5, 2015 to January 13, 2016. Id. Lieutenant Thomas. Sawyer was assigned to NBCI at that time and supervised the staff in Housing Unit 2. ECF 37-4, ¶¶ 1 & 2.

         A. Administrative Remedies

         During Plaintiffs assignment to Housing Unit 2, Sergeant Forney and Sergeant Thomas were also assigned to the unit. ECF 37-5. ¶ 3; ECF 37-6, ¶ 2. They were responsible for transmitting any grievance filed by an inmate on Housing Unit 2 to the Administrative Remedies Procedure ("ARP") Coordinator. ECF 37-5, ¶ 3. Correctional officers assigned to NBCI receive training on the ARP process including institutional directives concerning processing ARPs. Id. Forney and Thomas aver that they did not interfere with or hinder Plaintiff from filing ARPs. ECF 37-5, ¶3; ECF 37-6, ¶ 3. Sergeant lames was a relief sergeant for Housing Unit 2 and worked on the unit occasionally. ECF 37-7, ¶ 3. He also declares that he did not interfere with or hinder Plaintiff from filing ARPs. Id. Sawyer indicates that Plaintiff never complained to him that any of his grievances were not filed ECF 37-4, ¶ 4. Additionally Sawyer was not aware that any officer failed to follow the ARP process for Plaintiff. Id.

         Jared Zais is the ARP Coordinator for NBCI. ECF 37-8, ¶ 2. As ARP Coordinator Zais receives, acknowledges and directs the investigation of ARPs submitted to the Warden's Office by NBCI inmates. Zais records each complaint submitted by every inmate at NBCI. Id. Each ARP submitted is logged under the inmate's DOC number as well as under its own individual number and the ARP log can be accessed and the ARP retrieved using either number. Id. The ARP Coordinator also keeps records of appeals from adverse decisions. Id. Zais searched Plaintiffs ARP record. Plaintiff filed a complaint on January 4, 2016, while housed on Housing Unit 2, complaining that the finance office stole money from his account. Id., ¶ 3. No other ARPs were filed by Plaintiff during the relevant time period. Id. Plaintiffs ARP index lists 185 ARPs filed by Plaintiff from August 14, 2009 to July 17, 2016. Id.

         Russel Neverdon, Sr., Executive Director of the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"), avers that Plaintiff filed eight grievances with the IGO from November 6, 2015 to July 25, 2016. ECF 37-9, ¶ 3. None of the grievances were filed while Plaintiff was housed on Housing Unit 2 at NBCI or concerned his inability to file grievances. Id.

         B. Medical Care

         As to Plaintiffs claim regarding denial of medical care. Sawyer avers that he has no personal involvement in the provision of medical care. ECF 37-4, ¶ 5. He has no authority to make decisions concerning inmates' medical care. Inmates may submit sick calls slips to the medical department at any time and medical staff determine if medical evaluation or treatment is needed and make the appropriate arrangements for the inmate to be seen. Id. If an appointment is made for an inmate on segregation, correctional staff are responsible for handcuffing the inmate and escorting him to the unit medical room or to the Medical Department. Id. Inmates housed on disciplinary segregation tiers who are prescribed medication receive their medication daily from medical staff at their cell. Sawyer avers that he did not interfere with, hinder, or delay medical treatment or care for Plaintiff. Moreover, he is unaware of any correctional officer doing so. Id.

         C. Use of Force

         Defendants deny that Plaintiff was involved in any use of force while housed in Housing Unit 2. Id., ¶ 6. Sawyer avers that he did not use excessive force against Plaintiff nor is he aware of any correction staff having used excessive force against Plaintiff. Id. Correction staff are trained on the use of force policy which prohibits excessive use of force to be used against inmates. Id. Additionally, Serious Incident Reports are created when an inmate is involved in an assault and also to document any injuries or assaults on staff. Id., %1. The serious incident report log indicates that Plaintiff was not involved in any serious incident reports while housed on Housing Unit 2. Id.

         D. Retaliation

         Sawyer avers that he did not make any false statements as to Plaintiff and did not retaliate against Plaintiff. Id., ¶ 8. Sawyer also indicates he is not aware of any other correctional staff retaliating against Plaintiff. Id.

         II. Non-dispositive Motions

         A. Motions to Strike

         After filing the initial Complaint, the Court received 25 letters from Plaintiff referencing 183 exhibits. See ECF 5-10, 12-13, 15-18, 22-24, 29-31, 33, 35-36, 41-43, 46, 48.

         Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and Lt Sawyer have filed Motions to Strike ECF 5-10, 12-13, 15-18, 22-24, 29-31, 33, 35-36. ECF 25 & 39. Defendants accurately observe that Plaintiffs handwritten filings are nearly indecipherable and do not pertain solely to the allegations in the initial Complaint. Additionally, Plaintiffs filings do not comply with Fed. R. Civ. Pro. Rule 15(a) or 15(d) regarding supplemental pleadings or amended complaints.

         Given Plaintiffs self-represented status, the Motions to Strike shall be denied. The documents filed by Plaintiff, which consist primarily of copies of inmate grievances, medical records, orders of this Court, documents filed in and by State courts, with Plaintiffs handwriting over top and around the pages, shall remain on the docket and have been reviewed by the Court. The filings shall not, however, be treated as supplemental or amended Complaints.

         To the extent Plaintiff claims in these filing a vast conspiracy against him, this conspiracy claim has been investigated and found unsubstantiated, resulting in the dismissal of the claim both administratively and judicially. See e.g. Henson v. Likin, Civil Action No. RWT-11-2719 (D. Md.); Henson v. Miller, Civil Action No. RWT-12-763 (D. Md.); Henson v. Lambert, Civil Action No. RWT-12-3271 (D. Md.); Henson v. Smith, et al, Civil Action No. RWT-13-2266 (D.Md.); Henson v. Bishop, RDB-14-2131 (D. Md.) (dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies but noting affidavits of all correctional staff that they had not: submitted false incident reports, encouraged the submission of falsified medical reports, or instructed anyone to house Plaintiff with violent, dangerous gang members.) Those claims will not be addressed again. To the extent Plaintiffs filings include claims not included in his initial filing, those claims are not properly before the Court and will not be addressed.

         B. Discovery

         Also pending are Plaintiffs Motion for an Order Compelling Discovery and Motion for Production of Documents. ECF 20 & 21. Plaintiff seeks an Order directing Defendant Sawyer to provide him the following documents:

1. Maryland State Police Forensic Expert Test in Case No. K-2009-2263, Anne ...

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