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Kelly v. Lease

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 31, 2017

ANTHONY Q. KELLY, #352736 Plaintiff,
v.
SHAYLA LEASE, Management Specialist DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On September 26, 2016, the Court received for filing inmate Anthony Kelly's self-represented 42 U.S.C. S 1983 civil rights action. The Complaint seeks damages from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS") and Shayla Lease, a North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI") Case Management Specialis.. Defendants have tiled a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20), as well asa legal memorandum (ECF No. 201), [1] and Declarations. ECF No. 20-2 and 20-3. Kelly has filed an Opposition and a Motion to Schedule Date for Bench Trial. ECF Nos. 22 & 23.

         The matter is ready for disposition. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Defendants' Motion, construed as a motion for summary judgmen,, IS GRANTED for reasons to follow.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Kelly, who is currently confined at the NBCI, alleges that on August II, 2016, he requested that Case Management Specialist Lease have his legal documents (a proof of service to accompany his mandamus petition) notarized so that it could be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. He maintains that Lease refused to notarize his legal documents due to Kelly's litigation against another NBCI Case Management Specialist. ECF No. I, p.3. Kelly contends that every time he tiles an administrative remedy procedure CARP") grievance, the prison official will state that it was not received or it has been misplaced. IcL p. 4.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Defendants' Motion is 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 Courfs 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. 201I). 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, 5I0 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 opportuntty 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 judgmen,, and submits matters outside the pleadings for the courfs consideraiion, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule I2(d) may occur; the court "does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious." Laughlin v. Me/ro. Wash. Airports Autk7 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 consideraiion 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. Given the exhibits presented here (which were also presented to Kelly), the Court has ample information with which to address the pleading as filed for summary judgmen..

         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 judgmen;: the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liber/y 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 nonmovan,, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colle/on Med. Or.. 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 oj the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015); Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French, 499 F.3d 345. 352 (4th Cir. 2007); Black &. Decker Corp. v. United States, 436 F.3d 431, 442 (4th Cir. 2006); Dennis, 290 F.3d at 644-45.

         Because Kelly is self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed. See Erichon v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But, the Court must also abide by the -affirmative obligation of the trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial/" Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt,999 F.2d 774, ...


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