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Burroughs v. Green

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 19, 2017




         Defendant Warden Kathleen Green moved to dismiss or for summary judgment in the above-captioned civil rights case. ECF No. 18. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No. 21. No hearing is required for disposition of the matters pending before the Court. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Because Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this suit, Defendant's motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be granted.


         Plaintiff Dameium Dwight Burroughs is an inmate committed to the custody of the Maryland Division of Correction and confined in Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) in Westover, Maryland. He alleges that on January 16, 2016, he was sleeping in his cell when he woke to the sound of someone pulling on the cell door. Compl. 8, ECF No. 1. Burroughs states that the door came open and several inmates ran into his cell and stabbed him twice in the head and “several times” in his side and back. Id. During the assault, Burroughs claims his television and his new state-issued clothes were stolen. Id.

         Burroughs alleges that he had informed correctional officers prior to this incident that it was possible to pull on the cell doors open without a key. Id. He claims that he had previously requested that the door be repaired. Id.

         Burroughs states that on the morning following the assault, members of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) saw that he was still on the tier and he “had to fight again.” Id.

         As relief Burroughs seeks compensation in the amount of $1, 500 and a transfer away from ECI to ensure his safety. Id.

         Burroughs supplemented the Complaint twice. First Supp. Compl., ECF No. 8; Second Supp. Compl., ECF No. 12. In the first supplemental filing, Burroughs states that his legal papers, which included copies of request slips to have his cell door repaired, were taken from his cell during a search ordered by Warden Green. First Supp. Compl. He further states that he had a color television and a PlayStation 2 stolen from his cell. Id. He admits he did not have “paperwork” for the PlayStation 2. Id.

         In his second supplemental filing, Burroughs filed a copy of a medical record dated January 17, 2016, which indicated that he was seen by Kimberly Malin, RN for “3 superficial abrasions on left abdomen and side” and “one puncture wound on head.” Second Supp. Compl. Attach. 1, at 1, ECF No. 12-2.[1] Malin observed that the wounds were healing and there was no evidence of infection. Id. In addition, Burroughs filed a copy of an appeal of the Department of Correction's response to an administrative complaint. Second Supp. Compl. Attach. 1, at 3. The appeal concerns the January 16th assault as well as the issue with the cell doors failing to lock. Id.

         Defendant Green asserts, in response to the Complaint, that Burroughs did not properly exhaust administrative remedies and that she is entitled to qualified immunity. Def.'s Mem., ECF No. 18. In addition, Green provides a sworn declaration and verified records that establish that a PlayStation and PlayStation controller on were confiscated from Burroughs on September 21, 2014 and returned to the rightful owner, another inmate. Switalski Decl. ¶ 4, Def.'s Mem. Ex. 1, at 1-3, ECF No. 18-2; Notice of Confiscation, Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1, at 55. At that time, Burroughs was given television on loan. Switalski Decl. ¶ 4; see also Notice of Registration, Def.'s Mem. Ex. 1, at 56. Personal property inventory sheets dated January 19, 2015 and January 17, 2016 documenting Burroughs's property do not reflect that Burroughs owned a television or a PlayStation 2. Switalski Decl. ¶ 4; Jan. 19, 2015 Personal Property Inventory, Def.'s Mem. Ex. 1, at 57; Jan 17, 2016 Personal Property Inventory, Def.'s Mem Ex. 1, at 58.

         With regard to Cornelius Kilson, the only inmate identified by Burroughs as being responsible for the assault, no records were found to show that inmate presented a threat to Burroughs prior to January 16, 2016. Switalski Decl. Burroughs had no other listed enemies who were housed at ECI prior to the assault. Id. On January 27, 2016, an inmate alert was added to Burroughs's base file records indicating that Kilson presented a threat to his safety. Id.

         Because Burroughs was housed in general population at the time of his assault, no surveillance video of the assault was captured as video surveillance equipment is not present on general population units at ECI. Switalski Decl. ¶ 3. On January 16, 2016, at the time of the assault on Burroughs, the housing tier log reflects that officers “were conducting rounds to monitor security.” Id. ¶ 6. There is no entry in the log indicating that an inmate-on-inmate assault (denoted as a 10-10) occurred. Id.

         The following morning, a log entry indicates there was an altercation between Burroughs and Kilson that occurred when correctional officers were electronically opening cell doors on the tier to allow inmates to go to breakfast. Switalski Decl. ¶ 5. The notice of infraction issued to Burroughs and written by Officer D. Schweitzer indicates that Burroughs ran across the tier to Kilson's cell (C-31) when he was released from his cell (C-46). Notice of Inmate Rule Violation, Def.'s Mem. Ex. 1, at 18. Burroughs went into Kilson's cell, throwing punches, and both men came out of the cell engaged in a fist fight. Id. Because both men continued to fight after ordered to stop, offers used pepper spray to break up the fight. Id. A use of force and serious incident report were later prepared as a result of the incident. Use of Force Report, Def.'s Mem. Ex. 1, at 23-53.

         On January 18, 2016, Burroughs was interviewed by Lieutenant Tanicka White, who investigated the use of force. Id. at 24. Burroughs told White that on January 16, 2016, during the 3-11 shift and while inmate sanitation workers were out of their cells before the shift change, “a sanitation worker walked down C tier and approached 5 different cell doors and yanked real hard and pulled them opened [sic] while they were secured and/or deadlocked.” Id. After the inmates in those five cells were released, one of them yanked on Burroughs's door and they rushed into his cell and beat and stabbed him. Id. Burroughs also told White that while he was being assaulted another inmate stole his television. Id. After the assault, the inmates fled, and Burroughs closed his door and cleaned his wounds. Id. He stated that the only one of his assailants he recognized was Kilson because he was the one holding the door. Id.

         Burroughs admitted that once his cell door was opened for breakfast, he rushed straight to Kilson's cell door and as soon as Kilson's door was opened they began to fight. Id. He further admitted that several direct orders were given for them to stop fighting, which were ignored, and told White that “this was not over because they stabbed him.” Id. ...

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