United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge
is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative,
for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 31. Plaintiff was advised of
his right to respond to the motion and of the consequences of
failing to do so, ECF No. 32, but has not opposed the motion.
The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Because a
genuine dispute exists as to the material facts,
Defendants' motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment, shall be denied.
Jonathan Anderson was at all relevant times an inmate
committed to the custody of the Maryland Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) and
confined at North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. At NBCI, the
practice of holding the feed-up slot open on a cell door is a
breach in security. See Passman Decl. 1. Allowing
the slot to remain open permits an inmate the opportunity to
“throw what is known as a ‘correctional cocktail,
' which is a [m]ixture of liquid and human
excrement.” Id. Attempts to prevent an officer
from closing the slot is a violation of institutional rules.
October 9, 2015, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Officer Cody
Gilpin came to Anderson's cell to deliver his lunch tray.
See Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. In his verified Complaint,
Anderson alleges that, as he was retrieving the lunch tray
from the cell food slot, Officer Gilpin closed the slot on
his right hand. Id. Despite the food slot being
partially closed, Anderson was able to maneuver his hand to
release the food tray and his hand. Id. He alleges
that Gilpin then smiled and stated, “I'll chop your
hand off.” Id. at 4. When the events of
October 9, 2015 later were investigated, Anderson reported
that Gilpin closed the door on the food tray, but he did not
mention that his hand was in the slot or that Gilpin made any
threats. See IID Rept. 9-10.
Anderson ate his lunch, Gilpin returned to his cell to
collect the tray, and Anderson asked to speak with Sergeant
Janet Puffenbarger. See IID Rept. 9; Compl. 4;
Passman Decl. 1. Anderson admitted that he “put his
right hand in the [food] slot to prohibit the slot from
closing.” IID Rept. 9; see Passman Decl. 1.
Officer Gilpin told Anderson that “the Sergeant was not
going to do anything for [him], ” and ordered him to
remove his hand from the slot, where Anderson was holding the
tray. Compl. 4. Anderson repeated his request to see a
supervisor and Gilpin walked away. Id.
after, Gilpin returned, accompanied by Officer Nathanial
Passman. Compl. 4; IID Rept. 9. Passman stated that Gilpin
had asked him to assist him in collecting Anderson's food
tray. Passman Decl. 1. According to Anderson, Passman
threatened to pepper spray him in the face if he did not
remove his hand from the tray in the slot and, before he
could respond to the command, Officer Passman “shut the
slot on [Anderson's] hand, ” causing injury. Compl.
4; IID Rept. 9.
recalled a different sequence of events. According to
Passman, when he arrived at Anderson's cell with Gilpin,
Anderson had “jammed the rubber tray in the feed slot,
using it to prevent the sliding slot door from
closing.” Passman Decl. 2; IID Rept. 10. Anderson was
still demanding to speak with Sergeant Puffenbarger, so
Passman informed Anderson he would have to be handcuffed in
order to see the sergeant. Passman Decl. 2. Anderson
responded with obscenities and insisted that Puffenbarger
come to his cell to talk to him. Id. Passman then
tried to remove the tray so that the slot could be closed, as
it was against institutional rules for an inmate to keep the
slot open; closing the slot would eliminate the potential
security threat. See Id. He “dislodge[d] the
tray by … forcefully clos[ing] the sliding
slot.” Id.; IID Rept. 10. Passman asserted
that Anderson's hand was not in the slot at that time;
however, Anderson then “abruptly stuck his hand out,
” in an attempt “to stop [Passman] from
completely securing it, ” causing the sliding slot to
hit Anderson's hand upon closing. Passman Decl. 2;
see IID Rept. 10; Information Report Form. Passman
stated that “[he] did not see his hand in time to
prevent the sliding slot from hitting it, nor did [he] do it
on purpose.” Passman Decl. 2; see IID Rept.
Gilpin reported that Anderson refused to remove his hand from
the food slot, and therefore, Sergeant Puffenbarger ordered
Anderson to be brought to her office. IID Rept. 11. When
Gilpin and Passman arrived at Anderson's cell, Anderson
refused to be handcuffed. Id. At some point, Passman
closed the food slot on Anderson's hand; however, Gilpin
did not observe how it happened. Id.
Complaint, Anderson claims that, as a result of Passman
closing the slot on his hand, he suffered a “severe
contusion” to his hand that required immediate medical
treatment. Compl. 4. He states that “there was blood
everywhere on the slot” and that he “had to
receive several stitches.” Id. Though he
requested immediate medical attention, treatment was not
provided until twenty-five minutes later. Id. at 5.
During the investigation of the event, however, Anderson did
not say that he immediately requested medical treatment.
Rather, Anderson reported that his hand was stuck in the food
slot for fifteen to twenty minutes, and it was not until
Officer Jamey Durst arrived at his cell to escort him to see
Sergeant Puffenbarger that the officers noticed his hand was
stuck and injured, and he then was taken to the medical unit
and received treatment. IID Rept. 9. He claims that he still
suffers with pain in his hand and that he cannot feel his
hand during cold weather. Compl. 4-5. As relief, Anderson
seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at
to Passman, when he saw that the door had struck
Anderson's hand, he immediately pulled the slot open.
Passman Decl. 2; IID Rept. 10. There was no bleeding at the
time, but medical attention was offered to Anderson, which he
declined. Passman Decl. 2; IID Rept. 10. Shortly after the
incident, however, Officer Jamey Durst went to Anderson's
cell and convinced him to have his hand looked at by medical
personnel. Passman Decl. 2; IID Rept. 10. At this
point, Passman “noticed that Mr. Anderson's hand
was bleeding and reported it to Sgt. Puffenb[a]rger.”
Passman Decl. 2.
result of the incident, Anderson received a Notice of Inmate
Rule Violation and a Notice of Inmate Disciplinary Hearing.
At an adjustment hearing held on October 13, 2015, Anderson
pled guilty to violating three rules,  “was
administrative[ly] sanctioned and received 60 days of
segregation.” IID Rept. 11.
October 19, 2015, Anderson submitted a Request for
Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”), claiming
that he was assaulted by Officer Gilpin and Officer Passman,
and would like to file formal charges. See IID Rept.
14. Based on the assault described in Anderson's ARP,
Sergeant Chris Burton of the Internal Investigative Division
(“IID”) conducted an investigation into
Anderson's claim. Id. at 8. During the
investigation, Burton interviewed Anderson, Officer Passman,
and Officer Gilpin. Id. at 9-12. He also reviewed
medical records surrounding the alleged assault and video
recording from Anderson's cell. Id.
reported that Anderson had “initially submitted a
written statement claiming that no assault occurred.”
See Id. at 10. Anderson stated that he “wrote
the statement because [the officers] promised him that he
could be moved off the tier and placed into a special
program.” Id. However, after a ...