United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM EDWARD LOWRY, a.k.a. William Edward Lowery Plaintiff
DR. KIM JONES FEARING, et al. Defendants
XINIS United States District Judge
a civil rights case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
by Plaintiff William Edward Lowry, a patient involuntarily
committed to the custody of the Maryland Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Pending before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment.
ECF No. 5. Lowry has filed his own motions for summary
judgment (ECF Nos. 4, 7), and oppositions to Defendants'
motion (ECF Nos. 9, 14, 17). Lowry has also filed a motion
for leave to file a surreply (ECF No. 21). The matters
pending before the Court have been adequately briefed by the
parties; no hearing is required (see Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons, Lowry's
motion for leave to file a surreply will be denied,
Defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment
will be granted, Lowry's motions for summary judgment
will be denied, and the complaint for monetary damages will
be dismissed. Defendants will, however, be required to brief
other matters further as set forth herein.
who is proceeding pro se, alleges that he is being
held improperly via involuntary commitment at Clifton T.
Perkins Hospital Center (“Perkins”), and seeks
one million dollars in damages as a result. In his complaint,
Lowry claims that his defense counsel had coerced him in an
underlying criminal case to enter an
Alford plea with the understanding that he would
be released in 50 days. ECF No. 1 at p. 3. Lowry further
claims that, at the end of the 50 days, the defendant
Assistant Attorney General Rhonda Edwards stated that if he
agreed to an additional 90 day delay, he would be released.
Id. Because the hearing was delayed, Lowry claims
his two expert witnesses who were prepared to testify at the
first scheduled hearing, were not present at the later
scheduled hearing. Id.
in an attempt to undermine the validity of his continued
commitment, Lowry claims that psychologist, Dr. Kim Jones
Fearing, provided no support for her opinion that Lowry poses
a danger to himself or others. Id. at p. 4. He
claims that Dr. Annette Hanson also offered an opinion that
Lowry was not competent to stand trial; and that Dr. Danielle
Robinson stated that Lowry was not competent to stand trial
after he received an additional 6 months of treatment.
Id. Lowry states that in February and March of 2014,
Dr. Elizabeth Holt, a court forensic psychologist, testified
that Lowry “was sane and should be released to
community.” ECF No. 1 at p. 5, see also ECF
No. 17-1 (sealed, evaluation of Lowry's competence). To
date, Lowry has not been released.
explain that Lowry, who has a long history of mental illness,
was committed to the custody of the DHMH after he was found
not criminally responsible (NCR) on a 2012 charge of
first-degree arson. Lowry had been released on bond for the
2012 case when he was charged with indecent exposure in 2014.
On April 30, 2014, Lowry was found not competent to stand
trial and committed to Perkins on May 9, 2014. ECF No. 5 at
Ex. 1 & 2. Lowry suffers from bipolar disorder with
psychotic features to include a “history of paranoia,
persecutory delusions, bizarre delusions, auditory
hallucinations as evidence[d] by observed responses to
internal stimuli, illogical and disorganized thinking,
irritability, intrusiveness, aggression, threats of violence,
impulsivity, lack of insight into illness and need for
medication, and poor judgment.” ECF No. 5 at Ex. 3.
Lowry has also been involuntarily hospitalized at Sheppard
Pratt Hospital in 1985; at Harford Memorial Hospital in 2001,
2005, and 2010; and at Spring Grove Hospital from April 2011
to July 2011. Id. at Ex. 3.
also clarify that Lowry was entitled to a “50 day
release hearing” before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 3-115,
but both counsel agreed to a postponement until October 23,
2014. At the October hearing, Perkins staff opposed
Lowry's release based on his continued denial that he
suffers from a mental illness, his lack of insight regarding
the need to take prescribed medications, and because
“following his NCR finding, he was discovered exposing
himself to children in a play area in a manner similar to a
situation in which he has been previously found.” ECF
No. 5 at Ex. 5. The ALJ concluded that Lowry was not eligible
for conditional release. Id. Lowry did not file
exceptions to the ALJ's decision and the Circuit Court
for Harford County adopted the ALJ's findings and
recommendations. Id. at Ex. 6.
began refusing his medications in July of 2015. When Lowry
stopped taking the prescribed medication, his condition
deteriorated with “more active symptoms.”
Id. at p. 3. His behavior when off medication is
described as follows:
He became more irritable, intrusive, oppositional and
hostile. He was paranoid of his psychiatrist and at one point
he admitted to having violent thoughts about harming his
treating psychiatrist. In August 2015 he penned a letter to
this effect. He also approached a patient who was known to be
extremely assaultive and told him that his father was
deceased (not true). This unsafe behavior exposed Mr. Lowry
to considerable risk for retaliatory violence.
result, three clinical review panels recommended that Lowry
should be forcibly medicated. See Md. Code Ann.,
Health-Gen. § 10-708 (governing clinical review panels),
see also ECF No. 5 at Ex. 3 (March 23, 2016 clinical
review panel), Ex. 7 (September 3, 2015 review panel), and
Ex. 8 (December 24, 2015 clinical review panel). Lowry
appealed all three of the recommendations to an ALJ who
upheld the decisions of each. Id. Lowry then
appealed the December 2015 decision of the ALJ to the Circuit
Court for Howard County. The appellate court affirmed the
administrative decision. ECF No. 5 at Ex. 9 (Order, In
the Matter of William Lowery, Case No. 13-C-16-1066333;
February 10, 2016). The medication Lowry is currently
prescribed is Haloperidol and Thyroxin. He takes this
medication voluntarily now,  but is still unable to assist his
attorney in his defense for his open criminal cases. ECF No.
5 at Ex. 10 (Psychiatry ITP Note of Kim Jones-Fearing, M.D.,
August 31, 2016), see also ECF No. 13 at Ex. 1, p. 2
(Affidavit of Michael Menard, R.N.).
Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss
reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc.
12(b)(6), the Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of
the complaint as true and construes the facts and reasonable
inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417
F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc.
v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993));
Ibarra v. United States,120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir.
1997). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires only a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248
F.3d 321, 325-26 ...