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Washington v. Rounds

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 30, 2016

MARTIN WASHINGTON #3422165 Plaintiff,


          J. Frederick Motz, United States District Judge

         On February 4, 2016, Martin Washington, who is confined at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI",, filed this 42 U.S.C. S 1983 civil rights action for declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages against several correctional officers in their individual and official capacities. ECF NO.1. He claims that he was transferred to Maryland from Ohio confinement pursuant to the Interstate Corrections Compact ("ICC").


         Washington alleges that on July 27, 2015, he was subject to excessive force when an officer slammed the cell door metal food slot onto his left hand, fracturing it. He also contends that on October 12, 2015, a series of excessive force incidents occurred at the hands of officers. Washington claims that: (1) he was sprayed with a full can of mace inside his cell; (2) on his way to the medical department an officer squeezed his neck and arm "until [he] almost passed out;" (3) after being seen in the medical department he was placed in "the cage" and officers took turns punching him in the lower and upper body; (4) he was again grabbed by the neck and had his neck squeezed by an officer; (5) he was taken to the shower where officers rammed his head into the back wall; (6) officers punched him in the face and body; and (7) he was again choked by an officer. ECF NO.1. Washington asserts he was left in a cell for several hours without receiving a decontamination shower or medical care. He contends that during the afternoon of that same day he received stitches above his eyes.

         Finally, Washington claims that several defendants continue to deny him meals, institutional passes and recreation in response to his filing complaints against them and have, on more than one occasion, promised to kill him. He alleges that he has recently been finding foreign objects in his lunch meals. Id.

         Correctional Officers Rounds, Sr., Rounds, Jr., Murray, and Durst ("defendants") have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgmen,, construed as a motion for summary judgment.[1] ECF No. 22. Washington has filed an opposition and defendants have filed a reply. ECF Nos. 24, 25, & 28. For reasons that follow, the court will deny defendants' summary judgment motion.

         Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates through "particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declaration,, stipulations ..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833-34 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The existence of only a "scintilla of evidence" is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment.. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). Instead, the evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party opposing summary judgment.. Id.


         Washington alleges that he was subject to excessive force on a number of occasions in July and October of 2015, and sustained injuries to his hand, the mid-section of his body, his head and neck. Defendants provide a different factual background concerning the incidents. They affirm that Washington has a habit of placing his arm in his cell door's slot at "inappropriate times." ECF No. 22-2, 22-3, 22-4 & 22-5.[2] Defendants maintain that one of the reasons that Washington was housed in his particular cell in October of205,, was because it was more difficult to stick his hands and arms through that cell slot than most cell slots. They contend that it is possible for an inmate to seriously injure an officer by assaulting him through a cell door's slot. Id.

         Incident of July 27, 2015

         Defendants, referring to a notice of infraction written by Rounds, Jr., state that Correctional Officer Rounds, Jr. escorted Washington back to his cell after a shower. ECF No. 22-3. After Washington's cell door was secured, he was ordered to place his arms thorough the door's security slot so that his handcuffs could be removed. Id. He did so and his right cuff was removed without incident. Before his left cuff could be removed, however, Washington pulled both arms back inside his cell. Rounds, Jr. decided to advise the Officer-in-Charge ("OIC") of the situation and pushed the slot shut so he could do so. Rounds, Jr. claims that as he closed the slot, Washington stuck his left hand through the slot and the slot accidentally closed on his left arm. Id. The infraction notice indicates that the medical department was contacted to treat Washington, and Rounds, Jr. escorted Washington to the medical department where he was treated for an abrasion to his arm. ECF No. 22-3.

         Rounds, Jr. affirms that he was not disciplined following the July 27, 2015 incident and the Internal Investigative Division ("IID") of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS") did not investigate Rounds, Jr. following the event. According to the medical record provided by defendants, Washington's abrasion was cleaned, bacitracin was applied and a bandage was placed on the wound. ECF No. 22-6. He was provided with additional bacitracin and bandages. Washington was also instructed to place a sick-call slip the had any further problems. He voiced no further complaints and was returned to his cell. One week later, on August 4, 205,, Washington was examined by Nurse Moyer and complained of pain to his left thumb, which he claimed was injured when "his arm was caught in the slot." Id. Washington complained that he could not move his thumb without pain.

         Incident of October 12, 2015.

         According to the IID report, at 8:52 p.m. IID was notified of an incident that had occurred earlier that same day involving Washington. ECF No. 22-7. IID reported that Correctional Officers Durst, Rounds, Jr., Rounds, Sr., Peters and Mallow were accused of assaulting Washington. The IID conducted an interview of the five officers and Washington. Durst reported that Washington had stuck his arm in the cell door's security slot upon his return to the cell. When questioned if there was a problem, Washington indicated that he wanted to be moved to a different cell. He was informed that he would have to submit the request to the tier officer. Durst advised Washington that his request may not be granted because Washington was known to be a compulsive slot holder. Id.

         Correctional Officer Murray, the tier officer, arrived at the cell and informed Washington that his request for a cell change would not be satisfied that day. Durst asserted that Washington then lunged at him, and Murray sprayed Washington with a chemical agent. Washington was then escorted out of his cell by Durst and Peters. Durst claimed that medical personnel evaluated Washington and he was strip searched in the property room's strip cage. Following the strip search, Washington was taken to a decontamination shower where the chemical agent was rinsed off before he was further escorted without further incident to a contingency cell. ECF No. 22-7. Murray asserts that ...

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