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Dirton v. Liller

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 7, 2017

BRUCE A. LILLER et al., Defendants



         The above-entitled civil rights complaint filed by Plaintiff Derrick Dirton concerns allegations that Dirton has been denied needed psychological services and medical care and that he has been subjected to excessive uses of force by unnamed correctional officers at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) where he is incarcerated. ECF I and 8. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment[1] in response to the complain.. ECF 26. Dirton was advised of his right to file an Opposition Response and of the consequences of failing to do so, but he has filed nothing further in this case. ECF 37. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion shall be construed as a Motion to Dismiss and shall be granted.

         Complaint[2] Allegations

         Dirton alleges that he suffers from severe mental health issues as well as a seizure disorder which causes him to suffer grand mal seizures, facial weakness, and right-sided motor weakness. ECF 1 at p. 2. He claims his mental health issues cause him to experience "psychotic misbehavior episodes" and, for that reason, he was transferred to Patuxent Institution in 2014 for purposes of receiving treatment. Id. He states that On December 21, 2015, he was "abrubtly and without warning or reason" transferred to NBCI from Patuxent despite his continued need for the services offered at Patuxent. Id. Dirton claims that on January 8, 2016, he was told by Psychology Associate Lauren A. Beitzel and Sgt. Janet Puffenbarger that he was transferred back to NBCI because of behavioral problems at Patuxent. Id.

         Dirton asserts that since his transfer to NBCI he has relapsed and has been subjected to "a perpetual pattern of abuse" and retaliatory misconduct. Id. He claims the abuse and retaliation includes withholding of his meals, stolen property, refusal of medication, falsified charges of rule violations, and denial of psychiatric treatment. Id. Dirton asserts he has filed "several complaints and letters" regarding these allegations but "several of his complaints" were stolen, never returned, or dismissed. Id.

         On January I1, 2016, Dirton filed a "complaint" after seeking help from Bruce Liller and Laura Booth-Moulden.[3] ECF I at p. 3. On January 20, 2016, Dirton states he filed "another appeal" regarding his administrative remedy procedure complaint ("ARP") designated "ARP NBCI-0100-16"" Id. He claims he never received a response to the appeal. The ARP concerns Dirton's transfer from Patuxent to NBCI and alleges that Dirton is being denied access to psychiatric services in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. ECF 1-2 at pp. 19 - 21. The ARP was dismissed for procedural reasons with the notation that case management decisions are not subject to the ARP process. Id. at p. 19. In the appeal to the Commissioner, Dirton asserted that the procedural dismissal was erroneous because case management has nothing to do with delivery of psychiatric services. ECF 1-2 at pp. 22- 23. Dirton never received a response from the Commissioner of Correction. ECF 1 at p. 3.

         Dirton claims he filed complaints with Defendant Holwager who is the "clinical director." ECF 1 at p. 3. Dirton claims he has been subjected to biased and prejudicial treatment at NBCI due to the multiple grievances as well as civil litigation he has filed. Id. Dirton references ARP NBCI-1391114 with regard to Holwager. ECF 1-2 at pp. 8 - II. In that ARP, Dirton claims he is on a hunger strike and has not been seen by either Holwager or Social Worker Wilson. Id. Dirton stated that he had "been going threw (sic) mental health things" during his hunger strike, but was not provided with mental health services. Id. at p. 9. He further claimed that Holwager and Wilson allowed custody staff "to control inmates" and that he had a mental break down due to the oppression he was subjected to. Id. Dirton stated in the ARP that Holwager and Wilson refuse to report abuse by officers and that they are unfit to be mental health workers. Id. at p. 10. The ARP was dismissed as frivolous. Id. at p. 8. It was noted that while Dirton claimed he needed to be transferred to a qualified mental health facility, he was advised he would not be transferred unless case management determined it was necessary. Id.

         Dirton asserts that he has attempted to receive proper psychological and medical care since 2014. ECF 1 at p. 3. A letter dated December 17, 2013, addressed to "Psychology Department Laura Booth" asserts that Dirton should be on medication for attention deficit disorder ("ADD") and states he also suffers from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD",, and schizophrenia. ECF 1-2 at p. 1. The only claim raised in the one-page letter is that Dirton should be taking adderol for ADD, the remainder of the letter simply states what each disorder involves. Id.

         Dirton claims, without describing specific instances, that he has been "beaten, mistreated, and falsely charged/convicted to punitive segregation out of malice retaliation"" ECF 1 at p. 3. He further states that Defendant Bishop ''has adamantly refused to address his subordinate"" including both security and psychology staff and claims he has been subjected to electric shock twenty times and that he has been maced. Id. Dirton adds that he has suffered multiple assaults and his family has made both the Commissioner of Correction and the Warden of NBCI aware of the "misfeasance of both psyche (sic) and custody staff but the Commissioner and Warden have failed to take action to correct it. Id. at p. 4. Dirton further claims that the Governor of Maryland and his staff as well as the director of Patuxent and the Director of Treatment Services were also informed of the alleged abuse he has suffered. Id.

         Dirton alleges that Captain Jason Harbaugh visited him while he was confined at Western Correctional Institution ("WCI") during a hunger strike he chose to engage in. ECF I at p. 4. He claims that Harbaugh harassed him and "offered innuendo" which harmed him psychologically because Harbaugh "participated in the death of prisoner Ifeanyi A. Iko." Id.

         Dirton alleges that the hunger strike he began on January 6, 2016, was in response to being denied his medication and mental health treatment. He claims the objective of the hunger strike was to obtain the treatment he needed, but instead he was subjected to further physical and psychological abuse leading to a suicide attempt. ECF 1 at p. 4.

         Dirton asserts he "has the mental capacity of a child" because of his brain injury and multiple diagnoses of mental illness. He asserts that his diminished abilities should excuse him from exhausting administrative remedies with regard to his claims, especially in light of the manner in which his claims are continuously dismissed. ECF 1 at pp. 4 - 5.

         In an "Amended Complaint, " Dirton asserts that correctional staff are retaliating against him for this lawsuit, but does not provide a narrative explaining how the officers are engaging in retaliation.[4] ECF 14. The Amended Complaint is supported by a Declaration under Oath from another inmate, Michael Jones. ECF 14-1. Jones avers that April 28, 2016, Dirton provided legal mail, along with paperwork authorizing expenditure of funds in his account to cover the cost of certified mail, to Sgt. Charles Bielanske. Id. at p. I. The following day, Dirton's mail was returned to him with a notation that Dirton was sending it out as an indigent inmate when in fact Dirton had provided a means to pay for the fees. Id. at p. 2. The mail was given to Bielanske again on May 6, 2016, and Dirton received the expenditure receipt ...

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