United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar United States District Judge.
response to the above-entitled civil rights complaint,
defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment.
ECF 49. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF 52 and 55. The
court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
stated below, defendants' motion, construed as a motion
for summary judgment,  shall be granted. Plaintiff's motions
for summary judgment (ECF 19) and for appointment of
counsel(ECF 53) shall be denied.
Steven Gabriel, who was, at all times relevant to the
complaint, incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional Institution
(RCI) and Western Correctional Institution (WCI),
claims that his personal safety was endangered by the named
defendants when they did not take action to protect him from
the violence of other inmates after he told them he was being
threatened. While incarcerated at RCI, plaintiff states he
was stabbed by another inmate and, as a result, he was
transferred to WCI. Upon his arrival at WCI on December 7,
2015, plaintiff claims he told Case Manager DeVore he had
enemies at WCI and asked for a transfer to another prison.
Plaintiff alleges that DeVore ignored the claim. ECF 1 at p.
claims that over the course of his incarceration he was
assaulted “at least 13 times” at the direction of
the Black Guerilla Family (“BGF”). ECF 10 at p.
3. He notes, in particular, assaults occurring in August of
2011 and on July 26, 2015. Id. Plaintiff asserts
that due to an incident at RCI, where drones were used to
smuggle contraband into the prison, many RCI inmates were
transferred to WCI where he was transferred. ECF 26-1. Thus,
his transfer to WCI did not effectively remove him from the
threat that existed to his safety at RCI, where he was
stabbed. Id. Plaintiff does not identify anyone in
particular who threatened him.
December 14, 2015, plaintiff claims that while he was walking
to the cafeteria at WCI, he was assaulted but fled his
assailant. He states he ran into Lt. Millin and told him
about the assault. Millin then put plaintiff on
administrative segregation where he remained until January 6,
2016, when he claims he was “released” without a
hearing. ECF 1 at p. 4.
asserts that on January 12, 2016, he informed correctional
officers R. Barnes and R. Hughes and Sgt. Broadwater that he
feared returning to general population. In response,
plaintiff states he was given a notice of infraction
(“ticket”) for violation of Rule 401 (prohibiting
inmates from refusing housing assignments). ECF 1 at p. 4.
Plaintiff adds that Barnes, Hughes, and Broadwater subjected
him to verbal abuse, including racial slurs, and assigned him
to a cell in the same housing unit he was in prior to being
placed on administrative segregation. ECF 10 at p. 5. As a
result of this action, plaintiff claims he suffered emotional
distress because he felt helpless and suicidal. Id.
also attempted to document his concerns regarding his safety
by filing administrative remedy procedure complaints
(“ARP”). He expressed concern that his assignment
to general population would not be safe for him because he
was being targeted by the BGF, but his ARPs were dismissed
because “case management decisions” regarding
housing are not a subject that may be raised in an ARP. ECF
1-1 at pp. 1 - 5.
the instant case was pending, plaintiff claimed that he was
denied writing and legal materials and hygiene items, despite
his indigency which entitled him to these items free of
charge. ECF 23 at p. 2. In response to plaintiff's
request to the prison library for legal materials, it was
noted that his privileges were suspended because he had an
overdue book. ECF 23-1 at pp. 1 - 2. Plaintiff claimed,
however, he had returned the books over two weeks before the
suspension of his privileges and opines that since inmate
workers handle the type of books returned
(“recreational novels”), a mistake was made. ECF
23 at p. 2. Plaintiff further asserts that overdue books were
not a legitimate reason to deny his requests for legal
materials. Id., see also ECF 28.
regard to defendants Sgt. T. Menges and Officer A.
Cartwright, plaintiff claims that his ARP complaints
regarding officers' misconduct and others submitted as
emergency requests were mishandled, inappropriately
dismissed, or simply never processed. ECF 23 at p. 3. Menges
and Cartwright are the ARP coordinators for WCI. Id.
He states that referral of his ARPs that concerned officer
misconduct should have been referred to the Internal
Investigations Unit (IIU) for handling, but were not.
Plaintiff claims that ARPs are not addressed by prison staff
because they believe it is the courts' job to handle the
claims and states that, had the ARPs been taken more
seriously, he might not have suffered so many injuries.
ARP dated February 29, 2016, plaintiff complained that he was
housed in a cell with no electricity, was denied commissary
and phone privileges, and had only limited access to his
personal property. ECF 23-1 at p. 3. Plaintiff further stated
in the ARP that he was being denied the privileges afforded
to administrative segregation inmates despite the fact that
his disciplinary segregation term had ended on February 25,
2016. Id. The procedural dismissal of the ARP
includes a handwritten notation from Menges stating,
“[i]nformation from courts advising case management to
keep you in your current housing location.”
Id. Plaintiff appealed this dismissal to the
Commissioner of Correction, noting that he had a copy of the
court order and it required his placement on administrative
segregation, not the denial of privileges. Id. at p.
4. The Commissioner's office remanded the matter back to
the institution, noting that he did not concur with the
rationale for the procedural dismissal. Id. at p. 5
(memorandum dated March 9, 2016). Plaintiff states the
Commissioner ordered his removal from disciplinary
segregation as a result of the remand. ECF 26 at p. 1.
claims that Officer M. Davis retaliated against him for the
appeal of the ARP to the Commissioner that resulted in his
removal from disciplinary segregation and for filing the
instant case. ECF 26 at p. 1. Plaintiff claims that Davis
lied in order to keep him confined to disciplinary
segregation and issued a notice of infraction to plaintiff on
March 11, 2016. Id. The infraction charges plaintiff
with use of threatening language (Rule 104), interference
with the performance of staff duties (Rule 312), use of
disrespectful or vulgar language (Rule 405), and destruction
of State property (Rule 408). ECF 23-1 at p. 6. Davis's
narrative of the incident relates that he was returning
plaintiff's property to him and when he handed plaintiff
the inventory sheet, told him “if all of your
belongings are there, sign the sheet.” Id.
According to Davis, plaintiff signed the inventory sheet and
then claimed he was missing a pair of shoes. Id.
When Davis checked the paperwork, he saw that plaintiff was
not missing shoes and informed him that the paperwork did not
indicate that anything was missing. Id. Davis states
Inmate Gabriel then became very agitated and ripped up the
inventory sheet which destroyed state property. I immediately
gave him a direct order to stop ripping up the sheet but he
did not stop. Inmate Gabriel then stated, “I'm
tired of fucking with these bitches up here. I'm gonna
have to stab one of those mother fucking officers in Housing
Unit 5 for stealing my shoes and fucking with my
property.” I immediately removed myself from the tier
due to his agitated state.
was placed on “staff alert” status as a result of
his encounter with Davis which involved assignment to a cell
without bedding. ECF 26 at p. 2. Plaintiff claims this
assignment was unnecessary as he did not threaten Davis, nor
was any force involved as plaintiff remained handcuffed
during the incident. Id. at pp. 1 - 2. He claims
that the isolation cell was unsanitary because it had
“dried feces smeared across the walls and into the
steel mesh that covers the glass and window fixtures”
and contained mice and bugs. Id. at p. 2. Plaintiff
alleges he was confined to the cell for three full days
without a mattress or a bunk; was only permitted boxer shorts
and a t-shirt for clothing; and was denied legal mail,
writing materials, soap, toilet paper, showers, and hygiene
items. Id. During the time plaintiff was confined to
the isolation cell, he claims he did not receive his asthma
medication and states the temperature in the cell was
further explains that he was provided only a “paper
diet, ” meaning he was not permitted either plastic
utensils for eating or liquid beverages, and his food items
were wrapped in wax paper. Id. Plaintiff
characterizes the conditions under which he was confined as
punishment that was imposed without due process of law.
Id. In a later-filed supplemental pleading,
plaintiff states that during his confinement to the isolation
cell his “medications had to be increased twice.”
ECF 33-2 at p. 2. Plaintiff also states, however, that Lt.
Smith denied him the use of a prescribed inhaler for asthma
while confined to the cell. Id.
addition to the alleged retaliatory conduct, plaintiff claims
that Davis also “mussed” his head “into a
wall while handcuffed.” ECF 26 at p. 3. He further
alleges that Davis conducted a strip search on plaintiff in
the presence of a female nurse and repeatedly made him
“bend at the waist and spread my cheeks.”
Id. Plaintiff states that he did not receive the
notice of infraction written by Davis until he was removed
from staff alert status and that the experience caused him to
experience nightmares and paranoia. Id.
claim against Chief of Psychology Ronald S. Weber is based on
his allegation that Weber refused to provide needed services
to plaintiff because of this pending litigation. ECF 26 at p.
4. Plaintiff alleges he informed Weber of “serious
depression issues, ” including suicidal ideation, and
that he asked for a referral for therapy sessions and
evaluation for anti-depressant medication. Id. He
further states that he has “been diagnosed with
anxiety, bi-polar and depression in the past.”
Id. In the supplemental complaint dated April 10,
2016, plaintiff states that he “recently tried to hurt
[him]self” and that he had “just returned from
‘suicide watch.'” Id. He alleges his
mental status was adversely affected by his confinement to a
cell in disciplinary segregation for over 120 days where he
was confined alone. Id. Notwithstanding the symptoms
alleged, plaintiff claims Weber refused to provide him with
the services requested. Id. Plaintiff adds, in a
supplemental pleading, that Weber was informed that plaintiff
“could become a threat to [him]self, ” but he
remained confined in segregation. ECF 35 at p. 1. Plaintiff
admits he met with Weber “a few times, ” but
claims most of his requests were ignored or took 10 to 14
days to respond. Id. Plaintiff asserts that the few
times he met with Weber in his office do not qualify as
treatment because plaintiff was simply asked to explain his
request and told by Weber to work on his behavior before
plaintiff was dismissed from his office. Id.
further claims that while he was confined to disciplinary
segregation the use of chemical agents was a common
occurrence on the tier and it caused him to suffer asthma
attacks. ECF 35 at p. 2. Specifically, he states that on
April 10, 2016, during the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift at lunch
time, chemical agent was deployed in another cell, causing
him to choke and gag for approximately three hours.
Id. Plaintiff states he received no assistance
during the asthma attack, despite “scream[ing] out of
[his] cell door” to an unknown correctional officer,
requesting assistance or a respirator mask. Id. He
further states that he “used dangerous amounts of [his]
inhaler” before stabilizing. Id.
April 14, 2016, plaintiff states that another incident
involving use of chemical agents on the tier occurred during
the time when showers were being provided. ECF 35 at pp. 2 -
3. Plaintiff states he exited his cell for his shower wearing
a shirt tied around his face, covering his nose and mouth to
protect against exposure to the agent, but an unknown
correctional officer “snatched the thermal top from
[his] face.” Id. at p. 3. Plaintiff states the
presence of chemical agent was strong enough to affect people
in other parts of the building and that officers and inmate
workers in different wings were choking and coughing.
April 22, 2016, chemical agents were again deployed four
doors down from plaintiff's cell and plaintiff states he
was denied medical care and access to a paper respirator mask
worn by officers. ECF 35 at p. 3. He states that officers are
aware of his asthmatic condition because it is documented and
during the incident he was gagging and choking on his own
saliva. Id. When he asked Officers Cooter and Davis
for assistance, Davis responded that plaintiff should
“write it up, tell the damn courts to help you.”
Id. During this incident, plaintiff states he did
not have any medications or inhalers to assist him.
claims that additional retaliatory measures were taken
against him on May 9, 2016, when defendants removed him from
housing unit 4. ECF 38 at p. 1. Plaintiff maintains that this
court ordered defendants to keep him on housing unit 4, but
he was forced from administrative segregation and placed into
general population on housing unit 3. He states that housing
unit 3 is known as “gang land” among inmates
because the most troubled inmates at WCI are housed there and
it is designated as the housing unit for inmates who have
returned to general population following removal from
disciplinary segregation. While plaintiff was housed there,
he states he was assaulted and robbed by his cellmate,
causing a “noticeable gash under [plaintiff's] left
eye.” Id. Plaintiff's requests for medical
assistance and to have his property inventoried, to establish
that some was stolen, were denied by the housing unit tier
officers. Id. at p. 2. Plaintiff claims that
“during the altercation” his pants were torn,
video game system was knocked over, television screen was
broken, and “several property items” were stolen
at knife point. Id. Following this incident,
plaintiff was moved back to housing unit 5 where he claimed
to suffer continuous mistreatment in retaliation for the
instant case. Id.
February 19, 2016, this court partially granted
plaintiff's request for injunctive relief, directed
counsel to show cause why permanent injunctive relief should
not be granted, and directed counsel to insure that
plaintiff's assignment to administrative segregation
remained unchanged until otherwise ordered by this court. ECF
4. In their response to show cause, defendants acknowledge
that plaintiff was assaulted by an unknown assailant at RCI
on July 26, 2015, and state that plaintiff refused to provide
a statement regarding the identity of his assailant. ECF 9 at
Ex. 1, pp. 5 - 6. On July 29, 2015, an administrative
segregation review was conducted and a decision was reached
to maintain plaintiff in that housing assignment until he
could be transferred to another medium security prison.
Id. at p. 3.
November 30, 2015, plaintiff was transferred to WCI and met
with his case manager on December 2, 2015. At this initial
meeting, defendants allege plaintiff refused to sign any
paperwork because he “shouldn't be here.” ECF
9 at Ex. 1, p. 8. Plaintiff remained in general population
until December 14, 2015, when he was placed on administrative
segregation following his claim his life was in danger.
Id. at pp. 9 - 10. Because an investigation into
plaintiff's allegations could not substantiate his claim
that he was being targeted by a prison gang, it was
recommended that he be returned to general population.
Plaintiff either could not or would not identify any
particular person who presented a threat to him, nor could he
provide a plausible reason that would explain why the BGF had
a “hit” out on him.
has since been released from prison. See ECF 60
(notice of change of address). His request for injunctive
relief is therefore moot. A case becomes moot when the issues
presented are “no longer ‘live' or the
parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the
outcome.” City of Erie v. Pap's A.M., 529
U.S. 277, 287 (2000) (quoting Los Angeles County v.
Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631 (1979)). Where injunctive or
declaratory relief is requested in an inmate's complaint,
it is possible for events occurring subsequent to the filing
of the complaint to render the matter moot. See Williams
v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991) (transfer
of prisoner moots his Eighth Amendment claims for injunctive
and declaratory relief); see also Slade v. Hampton Rds.
Reg'l Jail, 407 F.3d 243, 248-49 (4th Cir. ...