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Bennett v. Green

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 12, 2017

CHAUNCEY BENNETT, #259742, Plaintiff,


          James K. Bredar United States District Judge.

         Pending before the court are a motion to dismiss, or alternatively, for summary judgment filed by defendant Ford (ECF No. 8), Chauncey Bennett's opposition (ECF No. 13), and Ford's replies and supplement. ECF Nos. 15, 18, & 27. In addition, state defendants Drummond, Green, Moyer, and Webb have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, and Bennett has filed an opposition. ECF Nos. 23 & 25. Upon review of the pleadings filed, the court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, defendants' dispositive motions will be GRANTED.

         I. Complaint Allegations

         Plaintiff Chauncey Bennett, an inmate currently confined at Eastern Correctional Institution (“ECI”) in Westover, Maryland, filed this complaint alleging that defendants conspired to change his medical order for front handcuffing in January and February of 2015, without an examination. He claims that a physician changed the order back to front handcuffing eleven days later and alleges that the order was again changed to rear handcuffing a week later. ECF No. 1, p. 4. He contends that Physician's Assistant Ford has committed fraud and he has suffered severe pain in his back and wrist. Bennett contends that he has twice received physical therapy and requires more treatment. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, outside physical therapy, the restoration of front cuffing, and other miscellaneous relief.

         II. Defendants' Responses

         Medical defendant Ford indicates that on January 7, 2015, he saw Bennett and an order for double rear handcuffing order was entered. ECF No. 8-3. Bennett was again seen on January 27, 2015 by orthopedist Dr. Joan Smith, who observed that Bennett had made a request for front cuffing due to orthopedic pins and hardware in his wrists. She made a request for front cuffing on his behalf. ECF No. 8-4. Bennett was again seen on February 13, 2015 by Ford, who documented an issue with the front handcuffing of the inmate in a housing unit. Ford noted that a “switch back to double rear cuffing which will meet the medical needs of the patient and address security concerns and mutual safety for all parties.”[1] ECF No. 8-5. The front cuffing was discontinued and double rear cuffing was requested for one year. Id. Bennett was again seen by Ford on February 18, 2015, regarding an issue with Bennett's wrist and rear cuffing. Ford noted that Bennett had a history of an open reduction and internal fixation (“ORIF”) to his wrist, without deformity. Ford explained that the rear cuffing would not harm the right wrist, the back pain Bennett complained of would not prevent rear cuffing, and the double rear cuffing would also be helpful in preventing further issues with the shoulder of which Bennett complained. Ford noted that Bennett refused to allow his wrist to be examined. An order for double rear cuffing was entered and the note documenting this entry was co-signed by Dr. Joan Smith, the orthopedist. ECF No. 8-6. Ford argues that Bennett was examined by both Ford and the orthopedist who agreed that double rear cuffing would meet Bennett's needs and address security concerns. He asserts that Bennett did receive an accommodation in the form of rear double-cuffing In response, Bennett argues that Ford committed fraud as he disregarded Dr. Smith's order for front cuffing. He claims that the order was twice switched without conducting an examination. ECF No. 13.

         The State defendants assert that as Bennett is assigned to disciplinary segregation, Division of Correction (“DOC”) policy mandates that he be handcuffed whenever he is out of his cell. ECF No. 23-2. Further, DOC regulations direct that all inmates be handcuffed behind the back at all times during escort, although they may be handcuffed in the front, as determined by the warden or shift commander, on a case by case basis.

         The State defendants assert that Bennett was found guilty of assaulting another inmate on December 5, 2014, and was placed on disciplinary segregation on December 30, 2014, where he remained until June 2, 2015. They argue that he was on segregation during the time the incidents occurred. Defendant Drummond affirms she has never acted to interfere with Bennett's medical care and did not conspire with Ford or others to change Bennett's front cuffing medical order and she has no authority to give orders to ECI medical staff and no influence over medical decisions. ECF No. 23-3, Drummond Decl.

         III. Standard of Review

         Motion for Summary Judgment

         Because defendants have filed and relied on declarations and exhibits attached to their dispositive motions, their motions shall be treated as summary judgment motions. Summary judgment is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), which provides:

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 ...

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