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Hines v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 21, 2017

AARON NATHANIEL HINES, #425693 Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN RICKY FOXWELL Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          J. Frederick Motz, United States District Judge

         On February 1, 2017, the court received for filing a complaint for compensatory and punitive damages from Aaron Nathaniel Hines, a state inmate confined at the Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"), against Warden Ricky Foxwell. ECF No. 1. Hines claims that upon his July 21, 2016 release from segregation he was informed that he would be placed on a gang tier where he had previously been threatened. He alleges that after he made this threat known to prison staff, he was placed back on disciplinary segregation without receiving proper "disciplinary procedures." He contends that he was illegally held in confinement where his movements were restricted, he was subject to "conditions of weather, " and he was deprived of communications with loved ones. Hines names Ricky Foxwell as the sole defendant, claiming that as the Warden he is responsible for all events that occurred at the prison. Id., p. 3.

         Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment and Hines has filed an opposition thereto. Paper Nos. 10 & 12. The case may be determined without oral hearing. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md. 2016). For reasons to follow, defendant's responsive pleading, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted.

         Standard of Review Rule 56(a) of the federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. 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 court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.

         "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)). The court should "view the evidence in the light most favorable to....the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the witness' credibility." Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, 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, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, Ml U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)). "The party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of [its] pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Rivanna Trawlers Unlimited v. Thompson Trawlers, Inc., 840 F.2d 236, 240 (4th Cir. 1988).

         Because Hines is self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed. See Erickson 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, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).

         Discussion

         Facts

         Defendant states that on July 21, 2016, after Hines was informed of his new cell assignment, he informed Correctional Officer Hall that he was not going to the cell because he feared for his safety. On July 22, 2016, Hines was cited with a notice of infraction ("NOI") for refusing housing. On August 2, 2016, a hearing was held before Adjustment Hearing Officer ("AHO") Mack. Hines acknowledged receiving a copy of the NOI, but did not request witnesses, representation, or the submission of any evidence prior to the hearing. He testified at the hearing and a copy of the NOI was received into/evidence. In addition, a case manager testified that Hines was informed that he had to be more specific about who made threats against him. Hines was found to be in violation of Rules 400 and 401, for disobeying a direct order and refusing housing "without providing a valid reason for doing so, " and was sanctioned with forty-five days of segregation. On August 19, 2016, a copy of the Warden's review denying the appeal was served on Hines. ECF No. 10-2.

         Defendant presents the declaration of the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO") Executive Director to support the claim that Hines did not file a grievance regarding his July 2016 adjustment or segregation assignment. ECF No. 10-3, Neverdon Decl. Defendant argues that disciplinary segregation inmates have visitation privileges, access to mail and telephones. ECF No. 10-4.

         In his Opposition, Hines appears to claim that in his case no recommendation was made to place him on administrative segregation and the shift commander did not sign off on his segregation' assignment. He further asserts that he did exhaust his administrative remedies by "alerting staff during his rule violation hearing" and by filing a grievance with the IGO which concerned his safety and security level. ECF No. 12.

         Legal Analysis The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act ...


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