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Waddell v. Maryland Pre-Trail Division BCDC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 10, 2017

LEONARD WADDELL, #444570 Plaintiff,
v.
MARYLAND PRE-TRIAL DIVISION BCDC CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ERIC PULLEY CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WATKINS CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SMITH CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DYER Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         On October 28, 2015, the court received for filing Leonard Waddell's (“Waddell”), self-represented 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint. The complaint seeks compensatory damages for assaults that occurred at the hands of correctional officers on June 26, 2015 and July 13, 2015, while he was detained at the Baltimore City Detention Center. ECF No. 1. A motion to dismiss and or for summary judgment has been filed on behalf of the Department of Pretrial Detention and Services and the Baltimore City Detention Center (“BCDC”). ECF No. 18. That motion remains unopposed. Defendants Pulley, Smith, Dyer and Watkins have filed a motion to dismiss and/or for summary judgment (ECF No. 23)[1] as well as a legal memorandum (ECF No. 23-1)[2], and declarations and exhibits (ECF No. 23-2 to ECF No. 23-7). Waddell has filed an opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 26).[3] Defendants have filed a reply and opposition to Waddell's cross-motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 27. Waddell has also filed a reply to Defendants' opposition to his cross-motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 28. The matter is ready for disposition; no hearing is necessary.[4] See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).

         I. Background

         Waddell states that on the night of June 26, 2015, he was suffering from an ankle injury and was unable to obtain medical attention. He contends that Correctional Officer Watkins refused to get him medical attention, telling Waddell it was his “problem because I had got myself locked-up.” ECF No. 1, p. 4. Waddell claims that he began to yell and scream at Watkins to express his pain and this in turn angered Watkins. Waddell alleges that Watkins verbally abused and threatened him. He additionally claims that later that night while in his cell Watkins threw trashcans full of water, laden with urine, on him. Waddell asserts that he was not given clean sheets or the opportunity to dry and clean his cell. He claims that the threats lasted for a week and he continued to be deprived of medical attention. Id.

         Waddell also claims that on the afternoon of July 13, 2015, he was physically beaten by Correctional Officers Pulley, Smith, and Dyer. He alleges that Dyer came into his cell and struck and kicked him several times. Waddell further asserts that Correctional Officer Smith subsequently arrived and dragged him by his cuffed hands out of his cell onto the top tier. He contends that he received “blows” from both Dyer and Smith for several minutes. ECF No. 1, p. 5. Waddell claims that he was moved to the dayroom where he was beaten to the floor by Smith and Dyer. He alleges that Officer Pulley arrived and began punching him in the head. Waddell states he was escorted to the medical department where “it was shown” that he had wounds to his head, back, and elbows. He alleges that the officers filed a false incident report resulting in his being found guilty of in-house charges and being placed on segregation.[5] Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         Motion to Dismiss Filed by Department of Pretrial Detention and Services and the Baltimore City Detention Center.

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. See Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A plaintiff's complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n. 3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted).

         At this stage, the court must consider all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and must construe all factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). Because Waddell is self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating the complaint, the court need not accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), nor must it agree with legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not ‘show[n] ... that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, “[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will...be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment Filed by Defendant Correctional Officers

         Defendants Dyer, Pulley, Smith, and Watkins' motions are styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery County, 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). Ordinarily, a court “is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss.” Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, “the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, ” and “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).

         When the movant expressly captions its motion “in the alternative” as one for summary judgment, and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court “does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).

         A district judge has “complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider it.” 5 C WRIGHT & MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2011 Supp.). This discretion “should be exercised with great caution and attention to the parties' procedural rights.” Id. at 149. In general, courts are guided by whether consideration of extraneous material “is likely to facilitate the disposition of the action, ” and “whether discovery prior to the utilization of the summary judgment procedure” is necessary. Id. at 165, 167. The court is more than satisfied that given the exhibits presented here, it has ample information with which to address the motion as filed for summary judgment.

         Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), which provides in part:

The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         The Supreme Court has clarified that this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the motion. By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). In analyzing a summary judgment motion, the court should “view the evidence in the light most favorable to…the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002); see Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); FDIC v. Cashion, 720 F.3d 169, 173 (4th Cir. 2013).

         “The party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). But, the district court's “function” is not “to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Moreover, the trial court may not make credibility determinations on summary judgment. Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d ...


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