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Flores v. Western Correctional Institution Warden Graham

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 27, 2017

ANGEL FLORES, #362446, #3534316, Plaintiff,
v.
WESTERN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION WARDEN RICHARD J. GRAHAM, JR., ASS'T WARDEN DENISE GELSINGER, BRADLEY O. BUTLER, Security Chief, HALL, 4-12 Shift Lieutenant, SHIMKO, Intelligence Lieutenant, A. CARTWRIGHT II, Administrative Remedy Procedure Coordinator, HUMBERTSON, Administrative Segregation Manager COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, SECRETARY, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”), Warden Richard Graham, Assistant Warden Denise Gelsinger, Security Chief Bradley Butler, Lt. Allen Hall, Lt. Jeffrey C. Shimko, Salem Humbertson, CO II Alicia Cartwright, and the Secretary for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) (ECF No. 10). Plaintiff Angel Flores filed a cross-motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 14). The issues are fully briefed and the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is necessary.

         For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I BACKGROUND

         On February 7, 2016, Flores was attacked by another inmate while serving his prison sentence at the Western Correctional Institute. He was treated for injuries to his face, forehead, and neck and placed on administrative segregation pending investigation of the incident “Per 4-12 shift Lieutenant (?. Hall) and Intelligence Lieutenant (?. Shimko).” ECF No. 1 at 5.[1] Flores could not immediately identify his attacker, but video footage reviewed by Lt. Shimko and another prison official identified the attacker as James Morgan. See ECF No. 1-2 at 4; ECF No. 14-1 at 15. Flores's file was never updated to reflect the attack. See Compl., ECF No. 1 at 7. Flores was placed in administrative segregation following the attack. See Id. at 5; see also ECF No. 10-2 at 3.

         On February 22, 2016 and March 1, 2016, Flores filed Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP) requests seeking to be released from administrative segregation into the general population. ECF No. 10-2 at 6-7, 8-9. Specifically, Flores complained that he was entitled to be present at a hearing regarding his segregated status and that he had not been afforded such a hearing. He requested that an “ICC representative” attend his next administrative review. Id. at 9. Flores' ARPs were dismissed on the ground that housing determinations concern case management decisions that are not covered by the ARP process. Id. at 6, 8.[2]

         On May 4, 2016, Defendant Humbertson, the case manager for Flores' housing unit, met with Flores for a “monthly admin seg [sic] review.” At that meeting, Flores signed a body waiver wherein he acknowledged that he did “not have any known enemies at WCI and feel[s he] can be safely housed in general population at this time.”[3] ECF No. 10-2 at 5; see also Id. at 12. According to Flores, Defendant Humbertson told him that he would email the investigating officers (Defendants Hall and Shimko) and the warden, assistant warden, and security chief regarding Flores's pending return to the general prison population. Compl, ECF No. 1 at 5-6. Humbertson allegedly also said that if Flores did not “hear anything” by the following day, it could mean that his case was still under investigation. Id. at 5; see also ECF No. 10-2 at 12.

         Two weeks later, Flores was still in administrative segregation and had not received a reply from Defendants Hall or Shimko. As such, he filed another ARP on May 18, 2016, “ARP WCI-1114-16”, seeking to recant his body waiver. He noted no change in his housing status and no updates regarding the investigation of the February 7th attack. ARP WCI-1114-16, ECF No. 1-1. Flores requested to be assigned to a single cell and placed on recreation alone status until he received written assurance from Defendants Hall and Shimko that he was not at risk for further harm after the initial attack. Id. at 2-3. Defendant Cartwright dismissed this ARP the day after it was filed, again on the grounds that housing determinations are a matter of case management and cannot be properly challenged through the Administrative Remedy Procedure. Id. at 2. Defendant Humbertson claims that he never learned of Flores' desire to recant his body waiver. ECF No. 10-2 at 16.[4]

         On May 21, 2016, Flores was returned to the general prison population and, notably, was housed on the same tier as James Morgan, the inmate who had attacked him on February 7, 2016. Within an hour of Flores' return, Morgan and three other inmates stabbed Flores. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 6. Flores' injuries included a “large laceration about 10 inches long with multiple puncture wounds to the same area, ” bruises, and several stab wounds. See Medical Record, ECF No. 14-8 at 3.

         After the May 21st attack, four inmates (Grant Holley, James Morgan, Jerrod Ward, and Raymond Murray) were thereafter identified as Flores' “enemies” in the DPSCS database for security reasons. Winters Decl., ECF No. 10-2 at 2. No such similar notation had been made to Flores' file after the February 7th attack. Flores alleges, without citing a particular policy, that this omission is contrary to prison protocol. ECF No. 10-2 at 13. Sgt. Broadwater, however, told Flores that “someone didn't do their job” by failing to place a staff alert in Flores' inmate file regarding the February 7th attack. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 7. No information exists as to why Plaintiff was returned to general population or the reasons for the delay in his return. Winters Decl., ECF No. 10-2 at 1.

         On May 22, 2016, the day after the second attack, Defendant Shimko met with Flores for the first time. According to Flores, Shimko acknowledged at that meeting that Flores should not have been returned to the general prison population. Shimko further noted that he would have not allowed Flores' return to the general population had he known of the impending move from administrative segregation. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 7. Flores was again placed on administrative segregation pending investigation of the second attack.

         After the May 21st attack, Flores filed a series of ARPs and inmate grievances, asserting that the institution had failed to review properly his previous ARPs, especially the one recanting the body waiver. See ECF No. 1-2 at 1; see also ECF No. 10-2 at 10-11. These ARPs were, again, procedurally dismissed, See ECF No. 14-6 at 2, 8, noting that Flores signed the body waiver voluntarily, did not indicate that the ARP was an “emergency, ” and did not contact his case manager to request retraction of the body waiver. Id. at 8.

         Flores then wrote the Executive Director of the Inmate Grievance Office (“IGO”) to explain that he did not check the “emergency” box on the ARP because he considered himself safe while in administrative segregation, and that his primary purpose in filing the ARPs was to receive assurance that he was not in danger of further attack. See ECF No. 1-3 at 5; see also ECF No. 1-2 at 10. After Flores filed the IGO letter, he was transferred from WCI to Jessup Correctional Institution. The IGO therefore dismissed the letter as moot on August 12, 2016, describing Flores' concern as being that he was “improperly placed on Administrative Segregation.” ECF No. 14-4 at 1.

         Flores filed the instant action on August 24, 2016 after exhausting his administrative remedies and notifying the Maryland State Treasury of his intent to bring suit. See Compl., ECF No. 1; ECF No. 1-4 at 2. Flores alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Specifically, Flores asserts that the Defendants failed to afford him a hearing while he was on administrative segregation and subsequently failed to protect him from other violent inmates. He seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $160, 000 against each Defendant, jointly and severally, and punitive damages in the amount of $60, 000 against each Defendant. Id. at 4.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Defendants' motion is styled as a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, and they have attached additional materials to it. This implicates the court's authority under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to convert a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. See Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007); Kensington Vol. Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). When a defendant attaches documents to a motion to dismiss that are not “integral to the complaint, ” the Court cannot consider the documents unless it treats the motion as one for summary judgment. See CACI Int'l v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 566 F.3d 150, 154 (4th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Before doing so, “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Id. Flores has been put on notice by the Defendants styling the motion as one for summary judgment and attaching additional materials. In fact, Flores filed his own cross-motion for summary judgment, thereby acknowledging his awareness and acquiescence to the same. The Court, therefore, will treat the motions as ones for summary judgment. See Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998).

         Summary judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) which provides that “the court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no 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 judgment; the ...


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