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Moore v. Warden (Name Unknown) of North Branch Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 7, 2017

ROBERT GARY MOORE Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN (NAME UNKNOWN) OF NORTH BRANCH CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION THE WHOLE MEDICAL STAFF THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF MEDICAL ENTITY Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES K. BREDAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On June 27, 2016, the court received for filing Robert Gary Moore's self-represented 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action. Moore seeks injunctive relief and damages from unidentified medical personnel and a prison administrator at the North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”). Pending are Wexford Health Sources, Inc.'s (Wexford”)[1] motion and supplemental motion to dismiss or in the alternative, for summary judgment, filed on behalf of defendant “The Person in Charge of Medical Entity.”[2] ECF Nos. 11 & 17. Defendant Warden Bishop has also filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment.[3] ECF No. 13. Moore has filed an opposition response and Wexford has filed a reply. ECF Nos. 19 & 20.

         The matter is ready for disposition; no hearing is deemed necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For reasons that follow, defendants' motions, construed as motions for summary judgment, ARE GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Moore alleges that he was subject to a due process violation and “medical neglect” because his grievances and sick-call claims regarding contaminated drinking water at NBCI (and his medical conditions arising from same) were ignored. He asserts that the main sewage pipe at NBCI ruptured and defendants should have known that he and other inmates were drinking “deadly water” after several prisoners had developed symptoms caused by deadly bacteria. Moore contends that he received no response to his administrative remedy procedure (“ARP”) grievance concerning contaminated drinking water. He states that he submitted an ARP in June of 2016, complaining of contaminated drinking water, and the ARP was destroyed. ECF No. 1, pp. 4-5. Moore further alleges that he was never seen for sick-call slips concerning breathing problems and pain submitted in June and August of 2015 and January of 2016. Id., p. 5.

         II. Standard of Review

         Defendants' motions are styled as motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dep't, Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). 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, 510 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 opportunity 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 judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court “does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).

         In contrast, a court may not convert a motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment sua sponte, unless it gives notice to the parties that it will do so. See Laughlin, 149 F.3d at 261 (stating that a district court “clearly has an obligation to notify parties regarding any court-instituted changes” in the posture of a motion, including conversion under Rule 12(d)); Finley Lines Joint Protective Bd. Unit 200 v. Norfolk So. Corp., 109 F.3d 993, 997 (4th Cir. 1997) (“[A] Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss supported by extraneous materials cannot be regarded as one for summary judgment until the district court acts to convert the motion by indicating that it will not exclude from its consideration of the motion the supporting extraneous materials.”); see also Fisher v. Md. Dept. of Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., Civ. No. JFM-10-0206, 2010 WL 2732334, at *3, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68772, at *8-10 (D. Md. July 8, 2010).

         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.

         Because defendants have filed and relied on declarations and exhibits attached to their dispositive motions, their motions shall be treated as a summary judgment motions.

         Summary judgment is governed by Rule 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 judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). In analyzing a summary judgment motion, 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 witnesses' credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., 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 ...


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