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Toran v. Leply

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 20, 2017

GREGORY TORAN Plaintiff
v.
OFFICER LEPLY and STATE OF MARYLAND Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Gregory Toran, a prisoner incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), filed a civil rights complaint raising both constitutional and state tort claims. ECF No. 1. Defendants responded to the complaint with a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. ECF No. 14. Toran has not filed a response in opposition although he was advised of his right to do so (ECF No. 15) and was granted additional time (ECF No. 17). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, [1] will be granted with respect to Toran's constitutional claims and supplemental jurisdiction will be declined with regard to the state tort claims raised.

         Background

          Plaintiff's Allegations

         On November 20, 2015, Toran was confined to a cell located in the disciplinary segregation unit of NBCI. ECF No. 1-1 at p. 3. Toran states in the unverified complaint that he had a “verbal confrontation with Officer Lepley[2] who slammed his hand in the feed up slot of his cell door and started calling him Niggas.” Id. Toran does not clarify whether the incident involving the feed up slot occurred before, during, or as a result of the verbal confrontation, nor does he explain what the verbal confrontation concerned.

         Toran claims that when his hand was slammed inside of the slot door, he yelled out for help and asked for medical assistance, that Lepley refused his request, but states that he was “eventually” seen by “the medical department” and was treated for three scratches to his left wrist and forearm. ECF No. 1-1 at pp. 3 - 4.

         As relief, Toran seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling one million dollars. Id. at p. 4.

         Defendants' Response

          Toran's claim that Lepley assaulted him was the subject of an investigation conducted by the Internal Investigation Division (IID) for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). The IID concluded that there was no evidence to support Toran's claim he was assaulted. ECF No. 14-3 at p. 14.

         In his declaration under oath, Lepley states that on November 20, 2015, at approximately 3:45 p.m., he was in Toran's housing unit where he was opening the slots in each cell door to allow for delivery of meal trays to the inmates in each cell, a process known as “feed-up.” ECF No. 14-4. When Lepley opened the slot on Toran's cell door to permit his food tray to be delivered, Toran pushed his arm through the slot in an attempt to prevent it from being closed. Id. Despite Toran's action, Lepley was able to get the door half-way closed without touching Toran's arm. Id. Lepley then walked away from Toran's cell and continued with his job on the rest of the tier. Prior to walking away, Lepley did not observe any injuries to Toran's arm. Id.

         Lepley returned to Toran's cell to collect the meal tray and it was then that Toran accused Lepley of assaulting him. Id. Toran showed Lepley two small scratches on his left arm, claiming they were the result of the alleged assault. Id. Lepley then informed the housing unit Sergeant about Toran's allegations. Id. Lepley denies assaulting Toran and denies ever making any racist remarks. Id.

         At approximately 8:53 p.m. on the same day of the alleged assault, Toran was seen by Dawn Hawk, R.N. ECF No. 14-3 at pp. 30 - 31. At that time, Toran claimed that his arm had been caught in the slot on his door and that it had been cut several times; he voiced no other complaints. Id. Hawk noted three scratches on the underside of Toran's left wrist and forearm that were scabbed over with no active bleeding, swelling, redness, or bruising. Id. The medical attention provided consisted of cleaning the areas noted. Id.

         Defendants submitted a copy of the surveillance camera footage from Toran's housing unit tier during the time the incident is alleged to have occurred. ECF No. 14-6. The camera angle together with the poor quality of the picture renders the video of little to no evidentiary value.

         Standard ...


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